We spent the weekend in Seaside, Oregon
, a coastal town with an arcade, bumper cars, big corn dogs, lots of taffy, and several ballfields. Our son's team played in three "friendlies" with one local and two teams from out-of-town at Broadway Park, home of the Seaside Wildcats
. It was a relaxed affair, with the kids picking their positions and even coaching the bases -- capped off by a huge bonfire on the beach to end a perfect Father's Day weekend.
As we drove home from the coast, I began to reflect on the date: June 15. I realized that there would be lots of emotions on this day in the world of Little League. I was thinking back a few years when Jack didn't make the LL All-Star team, but was an alternate, and selected to play in the Honors tournament instead. Talk about mixed emotions...
I was thinking about how he still practiced with the AS team everyday, and even when two players left the team over the long 2+ weeks before the first game AND he still wasn't placed on the roster (coach said they would "have a better chance of winning with only 11 players") he still went out and practiced with them and sat at every one of their games (not on the bench, of course), heartbroken, but knowing that the practice time would only make him a better player.
That is our AS story -- a tough one to swallow for us, but Jack has moved on, and at age 14, is on the Westview Sr. Federal
team, the top in this age-group, batting fifth (he started out batting last at the beginning of the season) and working hard everyday at the sport he loves.
My reflection for the day for those families celebrating the beginning of tournament play or celebrating the end of the regular season of Little League is this: be glad for the several months that you just spent with your child(ren), encouraging, cheering on, teaching, talking life and sportsmanship. You (hopefully!) modeled for your kids volunteerism and community support. Youth sports do not take place on an island (even though it feels like that on a cold night in April when you are the only ones playing :) ) and the benefits will always outweigh hours playing video games or watching TV. You were part of something, and they can forever tell their children that they played Little League.
If you made the Tournament Team, congrats, and I'll be following the local teams and news on this blog during the summer. If you are done with baseball (for now), thank you and don't put that mitt away just yet -- enjoy a game of catch with your mom or dad just for the fun of it!
Happy (belated) Father's Day to all the dads out there!