I found myself back at the starting line
It really bothers me that the best ideas I have happen by accident.
Twenty-four years ago a guy I didn’t know called and told me my nephew was on a t-ball team and he needed someone to help him coach. I was 20, a sophomore at Oklahoma State University and I had no girlfriend and nothing really to do that summer. It sounded like fun.
That started the best 10 years of my life – so far – as we spent many long nights and weekends teaching baseball and learning about life with a great a group of young men and their families.
A lot changed over the years. I graduated from college, got a job at a newspaper and even got to cover that same group of kids as they won the Oklahoma 5A State Championship in 2002.
Many of those boys are coaching their son’s t-ball teams now. That makes me feel old.
Somehow I found myself back at the starting line.
The head of our local league called and told me he needed one more coach for t-ball this year. I really didn’t want to at first, but how can you say no to a nice guy when other people have given up their time to coach your kids for five years.
It isn’t that I don’t want to coach Blake’s team. I would love that. Blake wouldn’t. I am a little more intense than Blake prefers for his coaches.
I have learned that again lately. Blake needs me to be his dad, not his coach.
Dawit thought it sounded like fun to have dad coach his team.
So I agreed and went through the draft process for the league with very little information. I knew a few of the kids that Dawit likes and I knew a few of the parents that I liked. After that, I just kind of used a dart board method – and I picked parents who listed email addresses because that is how I like to communicate.
It’s funny, some of the parents of this year’s players were probably playing t-ball when I coached it the first time. That also makes me feel old.
We had our first practice last night and I remembered what I loved about coaching. I love the smiles when a little boy learns how to throw a ball correctly and when they see a baseball fly off the tee when they swing correctly.
The most interesting thing Tuesday night was when I was lining up the kids to hit. Four of my 10 draftees were left-handed. How does that happen? My team cleaned out the left-handed gloves at the local Wal-Mart.
But the best thing about little lefties is being able to have them mirror your movements to learn new skills. With right-handed players, I have to do everything backwards to make it work. Once again, I proved that it is better to be lucky than good.
But more than teaching baseball, I love joking with them and making them laugh.
When I asked who had fun, they all shot their hands up. They all giggled when I asked if any of them were married.
This is going to be a fun summer. It may have been an accident but it was a good one.
Bush is the publisher of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org