Thursday, June 10, 2010
Hard for me not to coach
I guess the coaching never leaves you.
Saturday, I was asked to keep the scorebook for our 16-year-old baseball team as we competed in a tournament in DeSoto County.
I found out what I already knew. It’s hard for me to be in the dugout and not coach.
Thank goodness head coach Jamie Rappa did not “fire me” after just one or two innings.
I’ve been a baseball nut for about 40 years.
When I was 12, I was getting 12 miles from my country home to the city – Hamilton, Ala. – for Dixie Youth baseball anyway I possibly could. Mother was often at work come practice time, but I would get there – be it by my small motorcycle through the backroads – or however.
That’s because I loved baseball and I loved being a part of the team, enjoying the summer with my friends and meeting new friends.
I stuck with the baseball through high school and as soon as I graduated, I began coaching the Hamilton Park and Recreation Department’s Dixie Youth league. I still have a cherished photo at home of that first team. That group will always be a special one.
I was fortunate enough to coach some all-star teams which represented my hometown of Hamilton.
I will never forget that first all-star game. To say I was more nervous than the 11- and 12-year-old players would be an understatement.
I called them together before the game to give them the starting lineup. I reached in my pocket and pulled out a dollar bill and tried to read off it. The lineup was in the other pocket. It definitely eased the tension but it was a bit embarrassing, too, as a first-time coach.
I’ve been coaching in the summers every year since, with the exception of maybe one or two.
I moved to Fulton and got drafted to help good friend Tommy Chamblee. Those were some of my fondest coaching years. I learned in those years that coaches can often play the role of parents, too.
Then later, in Aberdeen and Laurel and Holly Springs, I was coaching teams on which my own children played – baseball or softball or both. And that doesn’t include coaching basketball in the fall and winter; and in Laurel, I even tried coaching some soccer which I knew absolutely nothing about.
All my coaching experiences have been fun. The memories are special – win or lose. It has been more about the fun, the smiles, the laughter and the team unity.
Sunday afternoon, our 16-year-old team was still playing in DeSoto County, this time in the championship round. Coach Rappa had to leave early, and I got a bit more absorbed in the bookkeeping/coaching duties – probably too absorbed.
It will likely be my last weekend of such responsibilities this year, but I had a blast.
It’s hard – as someone who has played sports all his life – not to coach, from inside the fence or outside. It’s particularly difficult when you’re own children are involved.
Most of the time now at son Andy’s games, I take a chair to sit in, but it either stays vacant or I let someone else use it. That’s because I can’t sit still. I prefer walking and walking and walking.
Our team finished second last weekend. It will likely be the last year this group will be together. We’re creating more fond memories.
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