Ever since our first foray into Little league three years ago it has been more about vicariously living through the chosen son or as it were grandson, and so to a lowly female child whose father was not present to be a positive force in her life, my daughter was often times overlooked and underestimated. It was an old softball coach who picked her up her first year in Little League, a coach set in his ways and unwilling to see past his grandson. It was an ok year. Her second year she was picked up by an old football coach and this seemed like it was going to be a great year, he used her as pitcher and they won their first few games that she played until she moved up to majors where she was just a player filling a void left on the team. A team that came in last place too many times to count. The coach when asking me about her ability heard nothing I said and told me he had ever only seen two girls in his lifetime that were "good" enough to play baseball with the boys. Still he was stuck with her and it became another instance of the chosen grandson and son to be the star...and he was good, I will admit that much. Yet she still did not get the opportunity boys younger than her had. On one of the rare occasions that she was on the mound she struck out one of the leagues best hitters, no one can take that from her. After that it was a loosing season and more time on the bench than play. She wanted off the team and wanted to go back in the draft. When we were told her old triple A coach was possibly taking the team over so we waited. When he did take over this beleaguered loosing team, she was hopeful as he told her he would give her the opportunity to play more, to pitch more, and to shine. When he asked what position she played last season the most the token star player said "bench". With all of the promises that were made to both players and parents it really just was another repeat of last year.What we were not prepared for was that he took this team so he would have an opportunity to take his son off of another team and give him more playing time on this one essentially building an opportunity for him to build his sons stats.
At first it seemed as if she would get a fair shake until he started playing his son more often at pitcher. As she sat and watched lesser players get more opportunities it became evident to her and I that it was the same ole, same ole. Her attitude began to show, her frustration and anger lashed out in disrespect. When he called me about her I told him to bench her, she deserved it. Then I saw a side of this coach I had never seen before, he made a rude comment when she struck out, yet high fived the star player when he did the same..not wanting to bruise his fragile ego. He allowed this kid after missing a week of practice to come in and pitch in a must win game that we lost anyway. I confronted him about his comments and the fact that he favored players after he said he wouldn't, but if you look at the stats you will see his child led at bats with 46 while a player who didn't have the big ability others had batted 19 times this season. So much for the impartiality we were promised at the beginning of the season...something he cannot deny since its all in black and white on the stats. Since that confrontation our relationship, and his with my child has never been the same and never will be. I personally feel that Dads who coach should not be allowed to coach their sons or daughters, which would lessen the nepotism that runs rampant on Little League fields everywhere.
To my daughters credit, individual credit I might add, she became the first female to hit two out of the park home runs ever in Madera Little League history. Those were and are wonderful accomplishments and we were happy with that until he benched her at her last ever Little League game in the second inning because she failed to get a ball and apparently gave him attitude, yet his child and others on the team who were unsportsmanlike to another team mate got to play and finish out their season. My daughter sat crying on the bench. She was hoping for another home run.
I sat disgusted and did not watch the last of the game and when we left I told her that it didn't matter, this year was like every other, what man wants their son to be out shined by a girl I told her?
I came home and wrote to one of the people on the board who was one of my daughters biggest supporters and thanked them. They too were bewildered by what happened this year, especially since the teams standings really did not improve. I know its all about politics and good ole boy standards where girls are concerned in the game of baseball. Little League ball is way worse than high school, college and for that matter, professional ball in my opinion. Run by overzealous males whose beer guts have them unable to play anymore.What I do know, is, this has been a character builder for my daughter and in the future she will hopefully learn to control her emotions...know that the game is the game, and build on those principles she has learned from all of the great coaches who will and have crossed her path and even learn from the not so good coaches who will also unfortunately come life as she continues to play the sports she loves, baseball and tackle football.
Makenzee kissing her first home run ball
Her dad getting a rare glimpse of his daughter playing at her best