Wednesday, April 23, 2008

swing batter, batter

Pook started t-ball just before turning five. He played for Marc that year. The next year we requested him and so many others did the same that he had to turn a few down. But Pook had a second good t-ball year. I worried that this year, in machine pitch ball, he wouldn't get on Marc's team. They had to try out this year and Marc had to create a balanced team. Luckily Pook is part of it again.

Coach Marc is a sports writer by profession and sends out detailed emails about each game. "He would register a dynamite diving glove stop on a screaming grounder into the hole between first and second to thwart another Wildcat scoring effort."

But his writing isn't why I was so eager to have Pook on Marc's team again. Marc, in my book, qualifies as The World's Best Coach. Another game report quote: "[Pook] would then position himself in the batters box and would battle his little heart out. Three solid swings later, the Illini rally would come to an unfortunate end. But it wouldn’t be for lack of trying on [Pook’s] part." Last night another player, PB, was having a tough time. His dad was offering advice from behind the fence, another coach or two were offering advice, and he was striking out. Coach Marc approached him. Instead of adding to the advice being handed to the poor kid by everyone else, Marc got near him and I heard, "Smile Philip. No. Bigger. This is Baseball, kid!" Did he hit the ball? No. But it didn't really matter anymore.

My Pook loves the game, but the move from t-ball to machine pitch has been hard. Marc has even invited him along with his own son to go to a machine pitch batting cage. He's gotten a lot of practice and does well when someone pitches to him. But until last night he hadn't had a hit in a game. Last night he hit for his first run/first RBI. As he does for one player at each game, Marc awarded him the game ball. I'm not sure who was most proud, Pook, Marc or CD and I. The scuffed up ball is up on the trophy shelf where it belongs.

"In the end, this coach couldn’t be more proud of this team. Sure the team’s record isn’t what we all would like it to be. But let’s keep in mind it’s a long season, and we’ve only begun to fight. While we are young, we are very good and we will continue to improve as long as our attitude remains positive which I know it will." And the boys are proud of their coach.


  1. This is my question -- how do I keep my boys interested in sports? My older child, although clearly talented athletically (fast runner, always in action, can throw, jump, run with the best of them) bores instantly of every endeavor. My younger child wants to copy his brother in everything. So there's a year of soccer and Number 1 Son decides no more, so Number 2 Son decides no more.

    Now we are deep in the midst of Karate -- which we started after a year of abject begging, so we thought the kids would stick with it (#1 is a gold belt, #2 is a yellow belt), but #1 says "no more" and #2, imitating big brother, suddenly is bored with it. My husband and I said "we're paid up for six months, we'll re-visit this after that," in hopes that they'll change their minds. But now we're in a power struggle with the boys griping whenever they have to go to karate.

    How do you keep the kids engaged? Or do you just give up and let TV and video games take over their lives?

  2. sorry, Suzanne-- I thought I'd replied this morning but it vanished.

    My thought is to add external motivation. So it won't just be a bribe, don't do any "if_then_". Instead, find a treat near the karate studio and sometimes stop on the way home. Hopefully they'll start associating the sport with fun. Don't ever do the treat other times, but intermittent positive reinforcement is pretty strong stuff!

  3. Thanks! We do stop for Slurpees at the nearby 7 Eleven or sometimes eat pizza afterward. We'll keep at it!