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Georgia District 8 Little League

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Dec, 2022

The reason they play

My journey with Little League began in 2014 when my oldest son ran through the front door full of excitement and asked could he go with his neighbor friend to practice. Until this point, I had given little to no thought to the benefits of him playing youth sports but, I am forever grateful that he got the invite. My neighbor Tommy (pictured on the right) returned from practice and told me my kid would be a coach's dream to coach and I needed to sign him up to play. The season was already underway, and I would have to wait to take his advice until the following season. My journey with three kids went from Chattahoochee County Little League to Peach Little League, culminating at Pioneer Little League. 

Each destination taught me different things, none greater than my love for the sport, volunteering and seeing my kids grow. My oldest son, now in high school still learns from the sport of baseball as he continues to play. Not too long ago one of the greatest moments in his journey came in a critical game and moment. He was playing centerfield in a game that was running low on pitchers as the manager wanted to save his better pitchers for the following game. A two or three run lead was held going into the bottom of the 6th when the coach went to the mound and signaled for my son to come to the mound. He had faced this team and blew the ball by every one of their batters a few days before. It was his time to shine, and he knew it. The sequence that followed would arguably rattle any parent or player as I watched him walk four runs in, with no hits. The loss was squarely on his shoulders, and it shook the team as they knew he would win the game and he failed to do it.  

As a father watching from the sidelines, I remember that starry eyed kid asking to go with his friend to practice. My heart swelled with pride even with the loss because I knew in that moment one of the greatest lessons he would ever learn was happening in real time. I teared up as we drove home, and I was telling him how proud I was of what he had learned that night and the importance of facing his vulnerabilities and still accepting the challenge.  His greatest weakness that night was knowing he could win without the recognition of how frail that margin between winning and losing is. He was devasted. 

Over my 42 years of existence and 20 years of service in the Army, I have always remembered a lesson that I learned early on; we love our heroes because they can lose. The vulnerability that is felt in moments where the prospect of losing is too great often conquers the individual long before they ever toe the rubber in life. Those that do face their weaknesses and accept the challenge are often left feeling empty and distraught when they do lose and let's face it, we all are going to lose eventually. Kids learn to face this fear every time they run out on the field no matter how old or what level they are playing at. This lesson of recognizing that we are not letting our team down when we give our best and still come up short is a very real adult lesson. 

It is not apathy towards losing or saying, "its ok to lose", its recognition that losing is a very real possibility and one must be prepared for that eventual occurrence. It is a winning mindset that must be fostered in children when the outcome matters little to the rest of their lives save the lesson itself; the mindset to face your fears and accept the challenge.  In fact, these lessons become a part of their nature without them even realizing it. So, the next time you are on the field watching your child coughing up the win, smile because that lesson they are learning about life, is why they play the game. 


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