From the dugout I see her. I see her natural ability, and I see her walk with ease onto the field as if that patch of dirt is her second home. I see her sense of comfort there, and as I do I find myself wanting to support her desire to play this game because her love for it is evident. I see her walk onto the mound with confidence. I see her face change, and I see it in her eyes. I see her feel good about who she is, and I see her desire to do well. I see the certainty in her body language, and I see how comfortable she is as she slips her mitt on her hand. I see her quiet confidence, and I see her focus before she throws the ball. I see her face when the taunting from the opposing team begins, and I see the fire in her eyes to prove that they will not shake her.
From the dugout I hear her talk. I hear her encourage her teammates, and I hear her gratefully say thank you for the support that they provide. I hear her laugh, and I hear friendships in the making. I hear the crunch of sunflower seeds, and I hear the chatter of the girls. I hear the hollow sound of the bats dropping to the ground, and I hear the positive words that the girls say to one another as they prepare to take their place in the batter's box. I hear the announcer call her name, and when the time finally arrives I hear her bat crack against the ball before she is off and running toward first base. I hear the coach yelling instructions for her to head for home, and I hear the high fives that follow.
From the dugout I feel the heat. I feel the sun pounding on my back, and I feel my heart beat faster as the intensity of the game settles on her shoulders when we get deep into the count. I feel myself wanting to stand by her side on the mound so that I can whisper in her ear that I believe in her and her talent. I feel a smile break across my face when I see her remain consistent, when I see her stay tough, and when I see her be true to who she is. I feel my hands clapping together for her and her friends when they run from the field because I have watched them do well, work hard, and have fun. I feel my hand on her back as I tell her good work, and I feel the connection we have as she looks into my eyes.
From the dugout I have gratitude. For a game that is helping her to find out who she really is. For ten other little girls who believe in her as much as she does. For coaches who take so much of their own time to help her develop her talent. For their genuine love for her, and for the difference that they have made in her life. For the opportunity to watch her transform with my own eyes. To watch her, to hear her, to feel the game, and to be there by her side through every single play. The world is beautiful when I experience it from the dugout.