My softball playing girl came up to me and asked me two years ago if she could play tackle football, to which I voiced some concern that it might not be for her. That is when I heard my Dads voice in my head telling me “no” when I asked to play football and I decided to go and take her to signups. Other girls had come before her to my surprise and we were excited at the prospects. She was first pick for her team after coaches saw her in the drafts they held over a weekend. She played offensive and defensive lineman, though in her heart she was hoping for quarterback. All they saw was her size and her standout ability to be quick and agile and mow ‘em down. She was one of the key reasons they went undefeated to the championship game. Everyone cheered her name in the stands but none louder than me. She played again this year and though her team was mediocre she still was a standout. She has said that she wants to play in high school and I have no doubt that she will. She plays her last season of community football this fall and then it is onto Jr. high. Most girls want to lose weight for vanity reasons. Not mine. She has said she wants to trim down and get noticed for her throwing ability so she can be a quarterback.
So here it is baseball season and yes I said baseball, she has forgone softball to play with the boys. She is in her second year of Little League, because she has not come up in the ranks here she has to prove herself, so for now she plays on a triple A team, not a Majors team, but my bet is it won’t be long before they know who she is. Her first year her old travel team coach picked her up for American Little League and it was not a memorable season, he tried her at pitcher, but she was too wild and his coaching style did not bring out the best in her. He was more worried about getting his grandson playing time anyway. So this year her old football coach picked her up as we moved and she ended up in National Little League. He saw her at the last tryout and picked her when he saw that she threw as fast as a grown man. He knew he had a future pitching star in his midst. We have several good pitchers which is great we keep them guessing, but my girl is by far the fastest pitcher. At one of the first practices she threw the ball so hard it hit one of the coaches feet, the next day he told us she split his toenail and it fell off. She can be cocky and full of herself and practice after practice she began to have attitude. One of our assistant coaches who is used to coaching kids from the Chicago projects and not Central Cali Valley farmland kids has a gruff exterior. Immediately he irritated her by singling her out. After all, her coach made her team leader and she was the player to look up to. She was put first in the line to lead her teammates in a run. She came up to me and said, “I know why he put me first, it is because of my size.” I said, “Then run too fast for the boys to keep up.” He got to her so much one day when she was sick I told her let’s leave after being there for five minutes. I spoke with the head coach and told him I did not like the assistant coaches tactics. So he said things would change and they did but then she started having attitude. She hated it and started complaining that she was bored because they were working on fundamentals, and after one day when she was particularly embarrassing I went off on her.
I had this loud tirade that started as we left practice in our van, and ended 10 minutes later in our front yard. I told her that her behavior was unacceptable, that she had embarrassed me. That she was not a know it all when it came to baseball. She said she did not want to pitch, the position they were grooming her for, she didn’t want to play. I yelled about how much money I had spent on her, and the enchilada dinners and fundraisers I had so she could participate in these sports. The time I had given up, and I added how I did not do any of this for her two older sisters. She started to whine and cry. “Is it too much pressure, what is it?” I asked. She just shrugged. I told her that people were always going to judge her by her size, that they were going to have expectations of her. I told her I was not going to be there to intervene for every coach she did not like. I told her what a God given talent she had. I told her that she could be the fastest pitcher out there but if she didn’t want it someone else who was less talented would work harder to get it. I finished my tirade by saying, “If you quit this and let your team mates down don’t ever ask me for anything again! Sit here and think long and hard about what you want and let me know!”
Was I wrong? Probably, well yes, I was guilty of bad parent behavior, but I was right. The next day after apologizing to the assistant coach and getting one on one pitching practice she threw fast and accurate pitches. I will give him credit for helping her to develop her technical skills; she is a better hitter and definitely a better pitcher!
So here we are only two games in due to the rain, and my baseball playing girl has pitched a total of 4 of the 10 innings we have played thus far. We play five per game, in the first game she only allowed one hit which she threw out at first and then she allowed a few walks but struck everyone else out no runs were scored this day. Our last game she pitched the last inning and after beaning a poor kid she struck out the next three players and we won 5 to 1. We left the game in good spirits with grins on our faces and shared our high fives. Today I spoke to one of the parents whose son is on our team and she told me that after our game she stayed to watch the next one and people in the stands asked, “Who is that guy? Who is he? We need to test him for steroids because he throws so fast?” To which she smiled and said, “That’s no boy, that’s a girl and she is on my sons team!” I relished the story second hand. When I got home I told her “You are already becoming a legend!” Needless to say she is raring to go this weekend. So don’t ever count this girl out when she plays with the boys!