Monday, August 17, 2015

Sometimes You Get A Bad Hop

For those of you who played baseball or softball, or have children that do, you know the reality of the bad hop. It's inevitable. The bad hop can make a Major League shortstop look like a 5 year old playing t-ball.

Picture this scenario: You're 10 years old and you've decided that you're ready to play baseball. This is a big step for you because you're not 100% confident in your ability and you don't know if you'll be "successful" but you're feeling brave and ready to take that step...and while it is a risk to put yourself out there like that, the pay off COULD be worth it.

So now, you're in line and watching as each of the kids in front of you take a ground ball and throw it back to coach. You can do this.

It's your turn.

Here it comes.

You've got it lined up. You're doing all the things that Coach Daddy taught you to do. Glove in front. Drop your rear end. Throwing hand ready to cover as you scoop.

Then it happens...

The ball hits a rock (or something). Leaps over your glove. And plants itself firmly in the corner of your eye.

How many of you have had the "stitches" before?
The only thing that makes this scenario worse than it seems upon first read is that it was Coach Daddy who was hitting the ground balls. was me. Just let me know where I need to pick up my Father of the Year trophy.

I immediately called him in so I could check it out (and to give him an opportunity to dry his eyes and save face in front of his teammates). As he neared me and removed his hand I could already see how red it was and yes, the dreaded "stitches". We grabbed some ice out of someones water jug and had him sit and ice for a little while.

Now, as Coach Daddy, I knew what a risk he had take by even coming out to practice. I knew that he was not super confident going into it. I knew that he had his doubts about whether or not this was really "for him". I also knew that his baseball to the eye could potentially be a career ending injury for my first born.

As we transitioned to the next set of drills I see him emerge from the dugout. I was throwing soft toss to a group in the outfield. He came and stood next to the fence for a while and watched. I asked him, "Do you want to take some swings?" Then it happened, he said, "I guess".

If you've never met Jacob, you need to know, he's a GREAT kid. He's smart, funny, incredibly creative and artist, he loves to read, and he loves learning. He's inquisitive and strong willed (which can be challenging at times but is a characteristic that I'm really glad he has...this is the parental paradox). There is so much about him that makes me so proud every single day. But that moment...those two words. I'm not sure I've even been more proud of him.

Please understand, this has nothing to do with baseball.

This is about resilience.

This is about getting back up.

This is about being willing to take risk. And when it doesn't go the way you hoped, not throwing in the towel.

This is a life skill. One that some seem born with and others never seem to develop. It's also one that some may not be given the opportunity to develop.

Among other things, I am an educator. This is the time of year where we are helping all of our teachers get ready for a new school year. This is the time of year where everyone has that sense of "I've got a clean slate". New opportunities to impact lives and make a difference.

I want teachers to ask themselves, not just at the beginning of the school year but every single day before every single lesson or every single encounter with a student. "Do my kids feel safe to take risks in my classroom?" "Am I creating an atmosphere of bravery?"

Those are truly important questions. But, it doesn't stop there. How do we respond when they pull together all the bravery they can find inside themselves, they take that risk...and it doesn't go well?

What happens when they get a bad hop? Because, remember, you can do everything exactly right in your approach and preparation. Bad hops are no respecter of men (or women).

This is where teachers change the world. Teachers believe in students until they have the ability to believe in themselves. I am so grateful to those who have help Jacob develop this most important life skill.

The rest of the story: After Jacob finished taking soft toss in the outfield, we went in to the infield and he took about 15 ground balls at second base after practice. He is now officially signed up to play baseball and he's really excited to be joining his brother's team. He'll be in a Vipers uniform wearing #18 (because Mitch Moreland is his favorite player) this fall.

Oh, also, he's kind of hoping his "battle damage" (as he calls it) is still there on the first day of school. He may be fishing for sympathy from some of those 5th grade girls. #LadiesMan

Make The Next Play,
+Zach Snow