My son's baseball season is finally over. Yes, the season that started in chilly late March finally ended this weekend with a lost in the sectional final for all-stars. As usual, my son had a very good season, helping gel together a team most people did not predict to finish second in the league. He batted fourth and had to pitch a lot, neither of which he has had to do before this year in his young baseball career.
Then, he was fortunate to be picked for All-Stars. This was about another three week journey of games and practices. His team played very well, just fell one game short. Losing is hard. Losing is not fun, but it builds character. He rolls his eyes when I tell him that, like any 10 year old would do.
What I realized while watching him play was I may never get to coach him again. See, he is joining an elite soccer team in the fall with established coaches. They play both fall and spring, and he was asked to join the team after a tryout earlier this spring. I will need to learn to walk to other side of the field when games start!
I do not think I am handling this realization well that I may have coached him for the last time.
I have been his coach since he started soccer, basketball and baseball. I have been there to teach him the little "game within the game" scenarios for several years and will miss that.
Then, it also struck me: What if I did not prepare him enough? What if I could have done more? I know there is still a lot about being an athlete he needs to learn, but I am hopeful I have given him enough of a foundation:
1. It is always about the team. Always. No one is more important than the team.
2. We win together. We lose together. No one person is blamed when things do not go our way. That includes umpires/referees/officials.
3. You play the game the right way. Always being fair. If you were out, tell the umpire. If you dribbled out of bounds, tell the referee.
4. Always give your best effort. Sometimes that will be enough to win, sometimes it won't, but don't ever sell yourself short.
5. Never publicly criticize, or "show-up", a teammate. If they made a mistake, follow it up with encouragement. Never criticism. He knows he made a mistake, he does not need you to point it out.
6. Have fun. Playing sports is fun. Playing them at the level my 10 year old can play them makes them even "funner". That's right, I just said that.
I do not know if there is an educational thread in this post, but it was something I needed to get off my chest for a couple of days now. I am glad I get to watch him play still, but I will miss the time we got to spend together being at practices and games. It will be tough to walk to the spectators' side of the field in a couple of weeks, but I think I am ready to pass the torch to his next set of coaches. They are getting one special kid and a heck of a player. Thank goodness he is like his mother.