Saturday, June 27, 2009

We are the champions

As some of you may know, I've been quite involved in Little League baseball over the last several years. When my oldest son started playing Little League at age seven, I managed his team. That was the beginning of a nine-year coaching run with his teams. I also coached my youngest son's teams for four years and served on the board of directors of our local Little League for several years. I just love Little League baseball.

This year, a friend of mine--also a Little League nut--asked me if I wanted to coach a team in the Majors divsion (11- and 12-year-olds) with him. I agreed. Neither one of us had a kid playing. We just decided to do it for fun. For me, it was chance to get out and do something I enjoyed. A distraction, if you will, from the everyday craziness that is my life.

The season started in late April and our team, the Dodgers, lost their first four games. The kids were pretty bad in those four games and, to be perfectly honest, I think everyone thought we were in for a very long season. Starting off 0-4 was not what my friend and I--or the kids--had in mind. After our fourth loss, when we gathered together as a team to discuss the game, one of the kids actually muttered the words, "We suck." Definitely reminiscent of the Bad News Bears.

But something changed after those first four games. The kids started to play better baseball and jelled as a team. Their defense improved. Their hitting improved. And their overall attitude improved. In short, the season that started off looking like it was going to be a disaster suddenly became magical.

The Dodgers played 17 more games after those first four losses. We won 15 of them. We won 11 of the final 13 regular season games, including the last seven in a row. We finished the regular season with a record of 11-6, good enough for the regular season league championship. Then came the playoffs, which was a double-elmination tournament. The Dodgers played four games and won them all en route to the playoff championship, which was clinched in a dramatic, come-from-behind, last-inning, 4-3 victory. Eleven wins in a row to end the season. Regular season champs. Playoff champs. Wow. That 0-4 start was now a distant memory.

Coaching the Dodgers was a lot of fun for me. But more importantly, the kids had a lot of fun. I have to say, it was incredibly rewarding to get cards and e-mails from parents thanking my friend and I for volunteering our time even though we didn't have kids on the team.

I won't lie. The winning was definitely nice. But giving back to the kids and the community was the real reward this season. And yes, my friend and I hope to do it again next year.

No comments:

Post a Comment