An upfront disclaimer: I am by no means a Yankees fan. Never have followed them that closely. And, yes, I realize their organization spends more money than the Kardashians. But if you’re a fan of baseball in general, it’s hard to turn a deaf ear to names like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Mariano Rivera. They demand respect for what they’ve meant to the game.
Read that graphic above again. Many people in my generation (but not my husband, DEFINITELY not him) would argue that Derek Jeter was, quite possibly, the best on the diamond.
I find it amazing and inspiring that a scrawny kid from Kalamazoo, Michigan, not only made his way to the Big Leagues, but also earned the spot of starting shortstop for the NY Yankees for 20 seasons.
According to The Life You Imagine: Life Lessons for Achieving Your Dreams, Derek grew up competing on teams that played on average a couple dozen games per year. The pitchers he faced in high school maxed out on fast balls clocking in at 85 MPH. His adjustment to the Big Leagues, subsequently, was understandably rocky at first.
Yet he learned how to set personal goals early in life (age 8 to be exact). And he was determined to reach them despite any odds stacked against him.
As I’m spreading the word about my movement to GiveTheGameBack to youth athletes in my community and beyond, I am reminded that persistence and allies fuel my determination to make a difference. Setbacks are just that…in sports and in life. They are not insurmountable unless you allow them to be.
Since January, I’ve met amazing people whom I otherwise would have never met. I’ve shared my own stories as well as those from the coaching community, my fellow parents in the stands, and even players themselves about what can be done to improve the state of youth athletics. I’ve even transformed those people who rally against fandumb into walking billboards by having them wear GiveTheGameBack t-shirts.
I want to personally thank everyone who has helped on this journey to get out of the way and let the kids play. I don’t see an immediate finish line in sight and believe it will be quite some time before we reverse some of the more disturbing trends of parental over-involvement (visit your local ball park or gym this weekend if you don’t believe me), but we’re at least taking strides in the right direction.
We can easily hang our heads and call it quits. But we won’t.
For the record, we’re Atlanta Braves fans here in the Woodard household and I’d argue that Chipper Jones in as close to perfection as they come. 🙂
Written by Heidi Woodard