“I hope Coach Kim remembers the stickers,” my daughter said as she spilled her thoughts from the back seat of the van on our way to school.
Glancing at her stoic expression from my rear view mirror as she gazed out the side window made me smile. It was not the first time, and I imagined it wouldn’t be the last, that she mentioned those stickers.
I wished her a Happy Monday, kissed her goodbye, and drove away with a full heart knowing we would reunite to talk about our days roughly eight hours later.
Not having much time to catch up on our daily happenings when I returned home from work and she from school, since I am notorious for always running late, we gathered our gloves and bottled water and found ourselves back in the same van with a different destination: the softball field. The same softball field where we’ve gathered every Monday night for over a month now with her softball friends.
Back when I was asked to coach my daughter and her teammates in their newly-formed 10U softball team, I was hesitant to agree. Who was I to be offering up coaching advice after stepping away from the game for so many years to raise my own kids? Who was I to be dealing with opposing coaches, league officials, parents, and other adults who may or may not be involved in the game for the right reasons?
Over the years, I watched my fair share of baseball, basketball, and football from the sidelines. I observed all the time and effort my husband gave (and continues to give) coaching our children in different sports and I wasn’t sure I had it in me to deal with ALL OF IT.
But then I thought…why not me? Why not now? I know I want this to be about the kids before anything else. I know I want to be involved in my daughter’s extra-curricular activities. So I recruited two outstanding assistant coaches and committed to the adventure.
I wrote my own mike-matheny-inspired-letter-to-the-parents and distributed it our first meeting together. Hands down the most important thing to me is open communication with the players and their parents. Second most important thing is motivation.
Which brings me back to those stickers my daughter’s been thinking about.
One of my assistant coaches is a former standout pitcher and current collegiate softball pitching coach. My other assistant coach is a former stud middle infielder and an even studlier grade school teacher now.
In our earliest lessons, they talked to the girls about the importance of snapping through their hips when they’re delivering pitches. Knowing the attention span and interest of their audience, they explained this concept further by saying, “If you place a sticker on your follow-through hip, your catcher should be able to clearly see it after you deliver the ball. If the catcher can’t see your sticker, you didn’t follow through enough.”
I’m positive my own daughter’s commitment to improving her pitching motion grew in direct proportion to the amount of time she patiently
obsessed over awaited the arrival of her glorious sticker.
Today, en route to practice, I’m thinking of all the things I could say to the team about technique, endurance, and hard work.
“I just hope it’s not Thomas the Train or anything,” her voice interrupts, breaking my concentration.
“What?” I respond.
“Or any character from that show,” she goes on. “The sticker. I just don’t want to wear Thomas the Train or anything like that.”
Am I grateful to have taken on this opportunity? You bet I am. It will remind me about what’s important in life. Growing, giggling, and getting better at something while having fun.
Written by Heidi Woodard