Upland Sign

(6-15-17) – Living six hours away from my grandchildren I don’t get to see to many of their soccer, baseball or softball games. So I was really excited this past Tuesday to go watch my granddaughter play in her softball game.  I think she was excited that I was able to come and watch her play and looking forward to showing me what she could do.

Upland, Indiana is your typical Indiana small-town and is the home of Taylor University.  The park, baseball and softball fields are as nice as any I’ve ever seen. They were done first class, even had lights in place for the little league fields that both of my grandkids played on.

The start of the game was great for me as a grampy, my girl was in the line-up and in her first (and only) at bat she did great. Little did I know she wouldn’t bat the rest of the game and would only play two innings in the field.  In softball 10 players (four outfielders) play in the field, my granddaughter’s team had 12 players.  She would not be in the field for the final innings, the coach (and I understand it happens a lot) only replaces the outfielders…so several of the 9 year olds sit out multiple innings.  I was able to watch the coaches daughter play the entire game.

Sure, I’m a little prejudice, the outcome of the game saw my grandaughter’s team lose in the bottom of the final inning.  Of course the loss wasn’t anything that the coaches did during the game, it was the umpires who were making terrible calls, it was little embarrassing to hear some of the words coming out of the dugout from the adults in charge.  What should have been an enjoyable night for the kids, parents, fans and even the coaches turned out to be not fun at all.

After the game my granddaughter was feeling like she hadn’t done her part, but I  let her know what a great job she did and I was very proud of her (and I was).  One thing I didn’t say to her was that I thought the coach was the problem and downgrade them in front of her, to do that would make me a bigger part of the youth sports failure.  It sure would have been easy for me to share my thoughts with her to make me feel better, but for my granddaughter it would have been the  worse thing I could have done. She needs to respect authority and listen to those who coach her, even coaches that her grampy doesn’t agree with.

Life lessons can be learned from this experience by my granddaughter, because in life everything is not always going to be fair. How will this effect her and the other girls that sit out game after game? Will this be the last time she wants to play softball or any other sport in the future. In this world of technology there are so many more options for a 9 year to do, it would be a shame for any of those girls to not play again because of this experience.

These are the formative years for a 9 year old when they are learning the fundamentals of the game, hitting, fielding, trying different positions.  They also learn about being a teammate, so its very important for these youngsters to learn from the experience of playing in game situations and also while they are on the sidelines when they are not playing.  An atmosphere created by a coach is important in making that all work or it can create bad habits. My granddaughter is missing some of the good things of playing sports as a 9 year old.

It has been a tough season on her, she is old enough to see what is happening, but doesn’t quite understand all of it.

So what can we learn as adults from this experience?

  • When you as an adult decide to coach a 9 year old team do it for the right reasons.
  • Winning is a wonderful experience, but when it doesn’t go your way act like the adult not like the 9 year old. (they are watching you)
  • Treat every kid the same as if they were your child or grandchild.
  • Set the example, don’t be the example.
  • Respect the umpires, a lesson that we ALL need to learn.
  • Coaches understand parents, parents support coaches.

Just as anything in life, its not every coach that has issues like this, many work hard with kids to improve them as an athlete and a person.  To those coaches I say thank you for your time and efforts.  This is not just an Upland problem, it is a problem around the country.