Archives For Family

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I am on my second summer coaching my daughter and her teammates in fast pitch softball. Although summer is the season when the actual league and tournament games occur, there are several months of off-season practice that go into this commitment as well.

After spending so much concentrated time together, I can say with utmost certainty that I am learning as much about how to play the game as they are – because I am experiencing it all over again through the eyes of 9-, 10-, and 11-year-olds.

A sport (or really any endeavor) that involves 3/4 of the year HAS to be enjoyable for kids and adults alike in order to stick with it.

Parents tend to view the duration of their kid’s playing days as a sign of success – the longer their son or daughter competes from the time they are toddlers until the time they are young adults, the better.

For an athlete, the length of their playing days has everything to do with talent, drive, and (I’d argue most importantly) an innate love of the game. The older one becomes, the higher levels of competition they’ll inevitably face, the bigger the stage gets on which they’ll play, the harder it will be to mentally and physically stay in the game.

I’d argue then that the greatest sign of success is an athlete playing the game they love for as long as they can.

My family and I live in Nebraska in a suburb that is adjacent to Omaha, the state’s largest city. While Omaha doesn’t boast a professional baseball team, it does host the Omaha Storm Chasers – a minor league team and Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

These players who don the blue and gold jerseys are hardworking men who are pursuing their passion every time they step foot on the field. I’d imagine that game time is one of their most favorite times.

My daughter and her teammates are just starting to understand that the time you invest in practice really can pay off in games, little by little. There is no fanfare in taking batting practice or hitting off the tee indoors when it’s freezing outside. It’s rarely fun to take grounders or work on cut-off throws when the peak of summer temps are weighing you down.

I think every young athlete should be given the chance to watch an older athlete in order to dream about possibilities ahead. To remind them that hard work CAN pay off.

In order to help celebrate the franchise’s 50th season, I am looking forward to spending two nights with my daughter at the Omaha Storm Chasers’ family-friendly stadium, Werner Park. Tonight will be game 1, followed by game 2 on May 25. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than with my budding ball player.

I hope you enjoy reading about the memories we’ll be sharing together.

The Omaha Storm Chasers approached me and other mom bloggers to provide sponsored content to raise awareness of their organization. I would like to thank Marketing & Promotions Coordinator, Andrew Asbury, for giving me this opportunity.

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It’s JUST a Game

March 1, 2018

It’s JUST a game of dribbling, passing, shooting, boxing out, rebounding, fouling, pressing, losing, and winning.

It’s JUST a handful of months out of the calendar year devoted to lifting, conditioning, ball handling, and pushing oneself to achieve more than the day before.

It’s JUST a day here and a night there spanning several weeks gathered together with coaches and teammates sharing meals and laughs.

It’s JUST watching film, checking tweets and snaps, and scouting your competition.

It’s JUST putting yourself out there in front of fans who will both celebrate your successes and ruthlessly judge your every move, decision, and game stat.

It’s JUST a span of three days out of 365 total throughout the year.

It’s JUST something you can’t really describe until you experience it.

Here we are, baby. State basketball is right around the corner.

2018 bracket

c/o @OmahaHSHoops

I’ve written before about the Bellevue West Thunderbirds advancing to the big show. I’ve interviewed their head coach, Doug Woodard, who also happens to be my father-in-law.

Yes, in the grand scheme of life and with everything happening in our world, it’s easy to question how young adults playing a game can mean so much to so many.

Yet the older I get, the more I appreciate the unbridled joy of it all.

TBirds 2018

The 2018 Bellevue West TBirds celebrate their District Championship.

It is a privilege to be able to witness young people working towards and achieving a common goal together. Away from screens, virtual gaming, and online judgment.

This is not only their experience. It is shared by young fans looking up to them with wide eyes of admiration. It is shared by a community that rallies behind them in their chase for the ultimate title.

Nico 2018

Junior Nico Felici cutting down the net while young fans watch.

This is the time of year that you never truly know what can happen, which is equal parts exciting and terrifying.

This is the time of year that you see young athletes’ dreams within reach. When you cheer ferociously for your own team. When you nod your head in admiration for the talent they play against.

This is the time of year when older generations – myself included – live extra vicariously through their offspring.

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Myself, my oldest, and my husband post-District win.

Only eight teams remain in Nebraska’s NSAA Class A competition and, in one week from today, that group will begin the journey of survival on the hardwood.

Good luck to Millard South, Omaha Central, Bellevue West, Kearney, Lincoln Pius X, Creighton Prep, Lincoln East, and Omaha Bryan.

Written by Heidi Woodard

I keep stealing glances at you when you’re not looking.

You’re still too young to be mortified by your mother’s behavior and I am savoring every last second knowing that. Realizing your adolescence phase is right around the corner makes me want to cherish your little girl phase even more.

Jaycee supergirl

I realize that stopping you from growing up is not only impossible, but irresponsible as well. Part of my job as your mom is to let you go eventually.

I’m supposed to let you become more independent, more aloof, more at bay. And far less reliant on your dad and me.

I’m supposed to be your eternal compass, guiding you and your behavior in the right direction for your one, special life.

I’m supposed to be your parent first and your friend second.

And yet…

There is a large part of me who doesn’t want you to change at all from who you are at this very moment. Caught in between childhood and young adulthood.

Jaycee sleeping

I love that you are almost 9 years old.

It caught me by surprise to think about how this will be your last single-digit year birthday. Having experienced your brothers getting older before you has taught me that, as each year increases, so too does the space between us. Not in a bad way…just in a life moves on way.

My wish this year on your birthday, as I watch you blow out your candles, will be to not let the next 365 days fly by as quickly as the last 365 days did if I can help it. My other wish will be to let you know these things about your childhood self.

I love watching you ride like the wind on your Barbie scooter. I will miss it when that wobbly back wheel finally falls off.

Jaycee scooter

I love complaining about and then subsequently doing school science projects with you. Soon you will outpace my level of academic genius. Until then, even I can handle baking soda and vinegar reactions.

I will miss holding your hand when we walk, when we rehash our days, when we fall asleep.

I love your competitive drive. I love watching you play sports at a pace that doesn’t consume all of your energy or free time. I know, again from experience, it won’t always be this way.

Jaycee softball

I love how you sing with reckless abandon, making up notes and verses as you go. And how you don’t dance like no one is watching; rather, you perform as if everyone should be.

I love that you don’t yet have a cell phone stealing your attention away.

I love that you consider yourself beautiful just the way you are.

Jaycee field day

I will miss the mischievous look in your eye as I watch you climb to the top of every swing set, scale every rock wall, and balance atop fences.

 

Jaycee climbing2

I love that you still like to show up the boys with your natural born ability and aren’t worried about having to show off your body in an attempt to gain their attention.

Because I have lived through the transition of childhood into adolescence twice before with your brothers, I must tell you that this phase you are in is both fabulous and fleeting. Think of it like the weeping willow tree whose branches you swung on for so many years.

Since last spring when that tree was unexpectedly uprooted by the tornado that ripped through our tiny park, I have walked many times by the vast empty space that its majestic frame used to consume and the reality hits me.

You are my final trick-or-treater.

My final hide-and-seeker.

My final almost 9-year old.

I couldn’t be prouder of the young lady you are becoming. But please forgive me for wanting to hold on to now for just a little while longer.

Jaycee firework

Written by Heidi Woodard