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i'm not as good as i once was

Being a mom of boys, I always anticipated the day when sports would take over our lives.  I didn't anticipate the decibels it would raise my voice to, or how much hair I could lose from yanking on it. I also didn't realize that I could love and hate something so fiercely... you know... other than my children.   I grew up in an athletic family, and sports have always been a part of my life, so I was totally fine with sports consuming us.  Being on the mom end of sports is a whole different animal than being a player, and I'm not going to sit here and lie to you and say that mama bear hasn't unleashed from time to time on an unsuspecting five year old.

There are a lot of opinions revolving around the idea of organized sports, and having been a coach I'll be the first to acknowledge that this world isn't for everyone.  I do think that there are important life lessons that come from being on a team, which is why I will always encourage my boys to play.  I also believe that the lessons can be for everyone involved... participant, parent, coach, etc.  If you haven't seen Will Ferrell in Kicking and Screaming, do us both a favor and go rent it.
"You just screamed through a construction cone to a group of six year olds that they were losers!"
"Well what did you want me to call them? Winners? Cause that would make me a liar."

I love the idea of teamwork.  In life we are constantly working in teams...school, work, families, you get it...and organized sports promote learning your role and supporting others in theirs.  Teamwork teaches us how to trust others.  If I'm a pitcher working my guts out to win a game by throwing strikes, my job is going to be way less stressful if I know I have a defense that is going to have my back if a batter connects with my fast ball.  I was blessed to play ball with the best pitchers around--that's right Haley, I'm lookin' at you girl--and nothing would have crushed me worse than letting her down.  I knew she was giving me everything she had as her teammate, and when I watched her throw during the state championship she took it to another level.  If she was giving me everything she had, I was going to do the same.  I know every girl on that diamond felt the same way.  No one should have to do everything alone, nor should anyone want to.  It's selfish to take everything on yourself and take away growth and service opportunities from others, and having to work as a team toward a common goal reinforces the concept of community.

Quitting is not an option.  Ever.  This is not to be confused with failing--failure provides learning opportunities and growth.  Organized sports require commitment, and sometimes it gets overwhelming.  Practices, games, meetings, texts... during the season it can consume you, if you let it.  If you sign up to play, you commit to a team.  You promise to be there, to work hard, and to contribute.  If you abandon ship midway through, you let your team down and put them in a tight spot.  I want my kids to be well rounded individuals--sports, instruments, academics, I'll push them to dabble in everything for a while.  I expect them to try everything, but refuse to force them to do anything.  In fourth grade my parents signed me up for basketball.  I was terrible.  Like, so terrible.  I don't do sports that involve any kind of net--I've accepted it, you should too.  I stuck it out for two seasons, and then we all agreed it was not for me--much to the relief of my team I'm sure.  Haulee, Katie, Stacey... thanks for still being my friends after that escapade.  True heroes.  If my kids give something a solid effort and put in the work required, but don't like it, we won't sign up next season.  That isn't quitting.  That is figuring out what you enjoy and what you're good at.

Patience is a virtue...and a definite line I skipped in heaven.  This is a lesson parents and coaches learn, I've discovered.  When Rhett started playing sports it was quickly evident that he was athletic.  He is one of the top players on every team, and he loves being there.  Larsen...well...Larsen likes butterflies. His first soccer game of the season we could hardly get him to stay on the field.  His dad was ready to kill him, and I was shocked.  Never did I dream that mine would be THAT kid.  The kid entered the five stages of grief whenever it was game time.  Bargaining, anger, depression--mostly mine--it was all there. He's gotten better as the season has gone on, but holy smokes did my patience go through the ringer for a few weeks.  There's a special place in heaven for 4U soccer coaches.

I can do hard things.  This might be one of my favorite lessons that come from organized sports.  In 9th grade I played third base for the school team.  My coach was tough--if you played softball in the 90's and early 2000's you know the name Christie Creamer.  She was arguably the best coach I ever had, but man did she scare the pants off me.  Practice ran like a military boot camp, even water breaks were completely organized.  One day, she was hitting us grounders--forehand and backhand practice which  was hardly my strong point.  It still gives me nightmares...like I'm pretty sure I'm getting hives.  I missed a couple backhands, and she was NOT happy--looking back I realize the frustration was NOT because I wasn't good... it was because she knew I could be better and I wasn't fulfilling my potential, and I love her for that.  She'd had it, and that's when it started.  She rocket fired grounders at me like a machine gun, one right after the other, and I had to field and throw, field and throw, field and throw.  Then she went faster.  Field and toss to the side, field and toss, field and toss.  This went on for what seemed like hours but was probably 10 minutes.  Balls got by me.  She yelled.  My body ached.  My eyes started to sting, and in that moment my teammates stepped up. 

"You got it!"

"Come on, Amber!"

"Left! Right! Left! Keep at it!"

Remember that whole team work thing we talked about? Exhibit A.  And then it was over.  She was finally out of softballs, and I collapsed on the ground.  It sounds like a nightmare, and for a minute, it was.  But almost immediately I felt stronger, proud, more passionate about the game.  That was a hard practice, and I survived.  I relived that moment over and over during my years of school and competitive ball.  If I could survive Creamer's grounders, I could do anything.  Except slap left handed... I'm way too slow for that. You gotta call Heidi, if that's what you need.

The Hodges are sports obsessed...like when we are expecting a baby and thinking up names, we do the sports announcer test.  "Rhett Hodges FOR THREE!"  I wish I was kidding.  Playing, watching, supporting...we do it all, and I'm a firm believer in the lessons sports teach.  Even as adults, Dewy and I continue to play ball.  We like to refer to ourselves as backyard all stars.  Once, my students tracked down one of my games.  If you ever need me to calm down and watch my mouth, bring my students to a game. Anyway...from here on out you can catch me at the park or the gym, screaming for my kids because I know whats coming at them for the next few years, and I'm so excited.  But mark my words, if I see your elbow fly higher than is necessary little seven year old, I will shamelessly harass you from the sidelines.







Comments

  1. Great post! I need to revisit this one often to remind myself that I can do hard things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've seen you do hard things numerous times! When I grow up, I want to be like you! ;)

      Delete
  2. Hey, we made the blog!! Best day ever!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought you might like that. I’ll never forget standing on the field and hearing “Go Mrs. Hodges!!” As you clowns walked in 🤣🤦🏼‍♀️

      Delete
  3. Sport's announcer test!! I am dead!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have no idea how serious those tests get 🤣🤷🏼‍♀️

      Delete

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