Yesterday was opening date for Aptos Little League. I can’t believe it, but I am now in my fifth year of being a Little League parent. We started our oldest son Aiden with T-Ball when he wasn’t quite yet four years old. Our youngest son Evan started when he was four, and now he’s in his second season, still in T-Ball. Aiden is now in AA, and it’s starting to get real.
All these years, I’ve been an assistant coach on the teams Aiden has been on. It’s a little ironic, because I’ll be the first to tell anyone that I know diddly-squat about baseball. Oh, I know the basics – three strikes and you’re out, nine innings, yadda yadda. But when it comes to the mechanics of playing baseball – how to throw a ball, catch, hit – I’m pretty clueless. I can do all those things to some degree, but I was never in Little League. The finer points were never taught in my PE classes in school.
When the kids are really little, coaching didn’t involve a lot of those fine points. Mostly, it was me telling them not to eat the sand and play tag in the outfield. Now that we’re in AA, it’s starting to get serious, which is why this year on Aiden’s team, I’m now a bench coach. Is that even a real thing? I just googled it, and it turns out, it is – but I’m no second in command. My job is to keep the kids focused on the game when they’re seated on the bench, waiting for their turn at bat. There’s not too many fine points with that job, so I can handle it pretty well.
My kids don’t have the advantage of a dad who’s super into baseball. Yes, I play catch with them and pitch balls for them to hit now and again, but not as much as I should. Throwing, catching, batting – they’ve learned almost all of it at Little League practice and games.
And it is amazing to watch their progress. Neither of them came to Little League with a love of the game. We’ve been to AT&T Park a few times to watch the Giants play, and they’ve had fun – running around, eating ice cream and hot dogs and soaking up the energy – but they weren’t exactly intently focused on the game. Yet, there at Little League, you can see their skills mature, their confidence increase, and their enthusiasm grow with each day on the field. They’re learning about the value of practice, persistence, and teamwork – and it is a joy to behold.
But there’s more to it than joy. It’s a strong reminder to me that we can all get better at anything – with grit, determination, repetition. Whether it’s being a parent, Real estate broker, or Guardian in the Crucible, practice makes perfect. Or at least makes it better.
I’m really thankful to Little League for helping my kids with this important life lesson – and of course, also to the other parents and players who really enrich the sport and show what makes our such a special community.