Jack loves baseball. He didn't start playing until he was 10 years old, which as I have said, put him a little behind his peers in the LL structure. His first team was A baseball where the coaches pitch. Jack was the only 3rd grader, and his teammates were in 1st (mostly) and 2nd grades. Jack also happens to be big for his age, so this made for some awkward moments at uniform hand-out and watching someone so big struggle with running and throwing.
His first coach was Matt Brant, and he is a great guy, great coach (in fact, Matt is this year's 9-10 Honors Manager for SunCreek). I think this experience prompted him to sign up for summer ball, then fall ball, and he kept going, getting stronger as a player, growing into his body, and finally, attending camps and hitting clinics to really work on his skills. Plus, he made baseball friends and we began to meet some great families to spend time with over the summer.
So many people have commented to us that Jack is "the great success story: working hard and getting better, enjoying the game, a great teammate, coachable, etc." Last summer when he didn't make any post-season teams, he nonetheless worked out with the 9-10 Honors team and caught pitchers, helped with practice, in the summer heat, having a good time, then going home and checking their game schedule on the internet. He attended at least one game of every SunCreek LL Honors/All-Stars teams, cheered for SCLL, and talked baseball. Over the winter, he attended batting practice every Sunday, worked with Ben Petrick at Glencoe HS on hitting and catching, and dreamed of being on an Honors team.
Last night, Jack attended the SCLL Majors championship game (Pirates vs. Red Sox) and was, of course, early, helping out and shagging balls, hanging with his baseball buds. The Pirates coach, Lee Selby, who was also the Bend team coach, asked Jack to talk with him a minute. Coach Selby is also the SunCreek LL All-Stars Manager. He told Jack that he was #14 of 13 players to be named to the team. But he wanted Jack to be an alternate, and he would get to practice with them, get a hat, etc. Jack was thrilled.
Our league is not as populated as others in District 4, so after filling out our (1) 11-12 All-Star team -- this is the division you see on ESPN in August, (2) 11-10 Year Old All-Star team, (3) 9-10 All-Stars, and (4) 9-10 Honors -- Matt's team, there were only a few players left over for an 11-12 Honors team. So, John, who is the Manager of this team, started calling kids and alas, with a little help from some players from Raleigh Hills LL, there will be an 11-12 Honors team and Jack will be playing on that team, too.
(Are you still tracking with me? :) So Jack, is a starter for the 11-12 Honors team (with first game Saturday, June 24, 10am, Alpenrose, vs. Murrayhill) with John managing, and is an Alternate for the All-Star team, and will attend as many practices of theirs as possible, and full-time when the Honors Tournament is over.
He could hardly sleep last night -- he didn't want to go to bed. He just laid there looking at brackets and team names and wanted to play baseball TODAY! Luckily, he has a day off, the Diamondbacks Team Party is tonight, and tomorrow is two practices, uniforms, and pictures.
Little League can be a positive experience. Winning isn't everything -- getting better and having fun is all you can ask. And sometimes, you can work hard enough and be a good kid, and good things can happen. How do you thank all those coaches and parents who helped him along the way? I guess you can't really, so you just make sure you pass it on...