“But my coach was proud of me,” my daughter said. These words stung a little bit. They stung, because they meant she didn’t think I was proud of her. And that hurt, and I’m sure it hurt her.
I’m not a good sports mom. I didn’t really play team sports growing up. I ran cross country, and I played tennis for a season in high school, but I wasn’t really that good.
My older daughter played softball, and I got a little too involved with the games. I was Team Mom, and on occasion you could see me get really mad at the coach. So maybe one time I had to leave a game, because I was so heated. The coach should have said something to the umpire after a bad call. The coach was my husband. After that, he didn’t want to be coach anymore.
We got really lucky with coaches for this year’s softball team. I didn’t realize it until I saw other coaches with their 8U softball teams. I vividly remember the first game of the season. We played a team where the coach would yell at their players all the time. He was awful.
One sweet girl was up to bat, swung a couple of times and missed. She finally made contact, and the ball could have been mistaken as foul. So she wasn’t sure what to do. There was a lot of yelling coming from everywhere. People yelling run, other people (from our team) yelling to get the ball and throw it to first base. Ultimately the girl was out.
What I really remember was the first base coach on the other team yell, from first base to the girl who was still at home plate, “Why are you just standing there?!!!! You have to run after you hit the ball!! That is so dumb!!”
My heart broke for that girl. She looked like she wanted to cry. This is 8U. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders. The first game of the season. I’m not sure if it was one of our coaches or a parent who yelled at him to lay off of her. He mumbled an apology and didn’t change his ways.
Fast forward to our last game of the season yesterday. We had to play this team again. The coach was the same. Yelling at his players, yelling at our team, and even yelling at the parents. I looked for that little girl from the first game, hoping she would blast the ball over the fence. I didn’t see her. Another parent told me she quit the team after that first game and never played with that team again.
How sad. That little girl may never know the joy of playing softball or any team sport at all because some over zealous jerk felt the need to project his own insecurities onto a little kid’s softball game. These kids are watching.
I am not always blameless. I can get caught up in games. Caught up in the moment. I can hear myself yell at my daughter, “I told you to run!” After a game, I think my daughter knew I was going to say something about a mistake she made, even though she had scored 3 runs. When I went to open my mouth, that’s when she turned to me and said, “But my coach was proud of me.”
She knew because her two coaches always say how proud they are of their girls. They focus on the positives. They speak up for them in games, yet keep the kids out of it. They don’t yell. If they have some advice, they’ll walk over and tell them in private. They are good coaches, and I’m thankful for them.
It’s a good reminder for me to chill out. Let kids be kids. Let them play the game. Let them know you love them and are proud of them every step of the way. I’m not perfect, yet somehow there’s a part of me that wants or expects my children to be. That’s not fair.
If your children come home and tell you how proud their coach is of them, be grateful. Tell your coach how much you appreciate them. Because that’s a good one.
Sometimes an occasional, “Awwww, come on, ump!” may come out of my mouth, because my girl’s gonna know her mama may be crazy, but she’s always got her back. And baby girl, I’m always proud of you.