There are so many kids all around the world how have one sport. One sport that no matter what they will always love will always remember, and will always have memories of. There are also many kids around the world who love this sport so much and they would do anything to play, but sometimes they’re just never given that opportunity.
For me, my sport was softball. Ever since I was seven years old I had a burning passion for it. It was the only thing that I spent my summer doing because all of my friends played in a summer league in my small town.
Pitching was something I absolutely loved to do. If I wasn’t pitching, then I was playing shortstop. Every day I had the chance when my dad was home I would make him go out in the front yard with me and just constantly work on my pitching. I was determined, I was full of fire, and I was let down majorly ever since I can remember. I worked hard, really hard. You can ask my parents. But no matter how hard I worked, it was never good enough. There was always someone better than me. But this fact never discouraged me and it only caused me to work harder.
As I started getting older, I started to realize that I was only used when there was nobody else. I was literally the last option. I never really gained much experience on the field, and because of that I would freeze up, or I would get frustrated. It honestly didn’t matter how good I did or not, to them, I was just a backup, somebody to use because they had nobody else. I just couldn't help but feel like everybody felt sorry for me, or that there were people who laughed at me. I felt like the other parents felt sorry for me because I just came in when we were ahead by a lot or when we were playing a B-game. I was embarrassed a lot of the time even saying I played softball, or talking about the sport to the baseball boys who started, or anybody for that matter. I just felt like a failure.
My ninth grade year my high school team had made it to regionals. I was put into pitch and I was so excited, I came in and did exactly what I had to do. And you want to know the only thing I remember hearing? “Alright, she got us out of that inning, put so and so back in”. It was like I did so good, I was so excited but it still wasn’t good enough, and this put me right back to feeling like a failure. Thankfully my mom and dad were there to tell me how amazing I did and encouraged me still.
See, the thing with sports is that it teaches children valuable lessons. It teaches them hard work and determination. Along with others like teamwork, friendship, etc. But when you don’t know how to show a child those things by giving them experience, if they continue the sport, they have nothing. Why would they put in all of this hard work and be so determined to do all of these things to become better when it never matters?
For me, switch-hitting was a thing my last year I played. Coach liked to pull it so much, and he tried getting everybody to do it. But I just decided I wasn’t going to mess with it, I just switched batting sides. I went from a righty to a lefty. I worked so hard on that too, because it’s a whole new thing, switching sides like that and strengthening muscles you usually don’t use. The coach that helped me do it helped my find my love and passion for the game again right when I thought I had lost it. But then reality would hit every softball practice I attended and I was never worked with fundamentally. I was just a second stringer who never got any experience and sat on the fence while others got their practice in. And then just like that in the snap of a finger, my love was gone.
Even though I had gone through all of that trouble, none of it mattered. Because I was never given a chance. Not in high school ball, not in little league, traveling teams, nothing. Maybe I actually just wasn’t good enough, that’s fine. But I loved the game, and I was never given a fair shot.
So to people who coach, please take the time to talk with kids. Make them feel like you actually care about them and know they exist. Play them because they deserve to play, not just because you need to play them due to having nobody else. Give them advice, give them life lessons, help them work on their skills to better themselves because that will help way more than you ever know. Don’t make them feel unimportant. It happened to me my whole life and because of that, my love for the game is gone. Love them, encourage them, and always reassure them because kids starting out in sports need that. If they don’t get it then they end up like I was in high school… feeling like a failure and never good enough for anything.