Friday, June 4, 2010

Small Ball

When I was in school I played many sports. I loved it. I still do. They all had a different aspect that I truly loved, but the one sport that evaded my passion was softball. I think mostly because it wasn't a game that I ever really learned to play. It probably didn't help that I grew up being the only girl with several brothers who loved to play this game. They used to let me play after I nagged and whined and threatened to tell my dad if they didn't let me play too. This didn't work out so well for me since they changed the rules up and instead of tagging me out, the goal became hitting me with the ball to make me cry so I would just go away. Brothers. You know how they are.

Anyway, fast forward my life to high school when I played many sports and shared this love with many friends. When my friends went on to play softball without me I had to make a choice. Learn to play, be left behind, or go and support what they loved to do. It was a little late in the game for learning, and I definitely didn't want to get left behind, so I decided on the third option and man did I love it.

I didn't completely understand the game then and by no means do I claim to now, but I have learned a lot since that time. This game is fascinating to me. "Small ball" as my friends called it. I always thought of it as so boring, but the more I have learned and reflected the more I have changed my mind. First like every game each player has a position, and there is a reason they play it. They have strengths and talents that match the position they are assigned to. For example, my girl Seej (pictured below of course!) usually plays third base because she has a good arm. Who knew that my girly girl would have one of the best arms on the team? I love that she can throw the ball so far. It can be a bit deceiving to the other team, but that just makes it even better! And another thing. This is the only sport I know of where the girls on the bench chant and cheer for their teammates through these sort of songs that they scream in unison. They yell things about being aggressive while clapping their hands, and stomping their feet. How cool is that. I still have that chant stuck in my head from high school (B-E AGG-RESSIVE, aggressive, be be aggressive), and that was a long time ago!

Next there is a whole language that goes with this game. Once in a while Seej plays shortstop. One of her responsibilities in this position is to remind the rest of the team what the situation is. You know, 2 outs, runner on first, etc... In all the time I watched my friends I never caught this detail before. What an important role. On top of that there are all of the signs and signals that are given between the coaches and players. This is something that has always caught my attention. This whole secret language of what will happen next. I played volleyball myself and we had a bit of that going on as well, but the coach and batter are in the spotlight when this secret communication is taking place. The crowd, and the other team are all watching on as they discuss from a distance the plan that is about to be put into action. This is powerful to me. They have built a relationship of trust, and the coach believes that his student can succeed. I love this.

So, imagine my thoughts when Seej decided that she wanted to learn to play last year. Technically I know nothing about this game. In fact, I once had a friend who asked me to be a substitute on a team for her one year. I told her no way, but she assured me that I was a sub, and that unless someone was injured there was a full proof plan in place for me to remain on the bench. Well, guess what happened? That's right, several minutes into the game one of the players tore her rotator cuff. Ugh! I had no choice at that point but to go into the game and pretend like I knew what I was doing. I'm not the best actor though, and as I took right field one by one each girl who came up to bat pointed her bat directly at me prior to hitting the ball my way. Needless to say I didn't stay in the game long. They replaced me with the injured girl who played first base. She caught the ball with her good arm, and removed her mitt to use the same hand to throw the ball back while icing her throbbing torn shoulder. Yep. I wanted to die of embarrassment. That put an abrupt end to my softball days. So with Seej, all the help I can provide her is from the insight I gain while watching others coach her. She is good though, and I am so proud of her. I love to watch her play. I hope that she will continue on with this sport. I hope she will learn the secret languages, yell the chants, and learn more about becoming a part of a team. Teams equal friendships, and friendships can teach you about things you aren't an expert in. Just like my friends once taught me about "small ball". I'm so glad they did!


terri said...[Reply to comment]

You are right. "Small Ball" is the bomb! Way to go Seej! Cute uniforms, too. P.S. It wouldn't be fair if you were amazing at everything.

Josh and Kandice said...[Reply to comment]

I love these pics! It was great getting to know you a little on the photo walk today! Your daughter was a great model for us! We will now be friends!:)

Bobbidee said...[Reply to comment]

Those are really fun pics! So happy for Seej too, it is fun to play a sport you like!

Shan said...[Reply to comment]

Hey..I am glad she took up the "small ball" game.. It is awesome! She looks so cute too! Fun! I have so many good memories playing!

Penelope said...[Reply to comment]

Cute pictures! It looks like she loves the game. And I totally agree with Terri, above about being amazing at everything! :)

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