Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Thus endeth the season

C's softball season ended last night with a rousing double header victory.

Her team of 7/8-year old, coach pitched, 11" Incrediball hitting local girls completed their season with a resounding 7 and 1 record.

The solitary loss came at the beginning of the game rotation. That one loss, however, was redeemed in spades last Monday night as our girls pulled off a solid trouncing of their old nemesis. It was a sweet victory.

As Assistant Coach, I was duly proud of the solid game play and improved skills demonstrated by just about every member of the 9-girl team.

Above all, they all seemed to be having fun, which was supposed to be the entire point of the exercise.

We rotated the girls so they got to play every position they wanted, even though some had definite strengths in certain positions, the Head Coach and I felt that fairness would lead to a higher level of enjoyment of the game, and win or lose, that was the intended goal of the league from the get go.

Amidst all the drama of parents wanting their kids to win, kids wanting to get a hit or make a play, coaches trying to squeeze every last ounce of performance from their players, and frogs trying to avoid being squished beneath the cleated feet of two teams of softball players, a modern day family drama unfolded before my eyes.

You recall "Jayme" with the two Moms. Well, Jayme was seriously distracted for the first few innings of our first game of the evening with news that her Dad was driving up from Texas to watch her play. Every other word out of her mouth involved her Dad, the last time she saw her Dad, what she was planning to do with her Dad, how she hoped he showed up soon, and how proud he'd be if she played really well.

The level of distraction grew even worse after he arrived, as every move she made, was followed by a glance his way to see if he was indeed watching every move she made.

The pressure on this little girl to perform for her Dad whom she hadn't seen for 2-months must have been extremely heightened, as her game play was sub-par to her normal level.

A particularly disastrous turn at bat occurred when Jayme overheard her older sister giggling with joy at the onset of being tickled by their Father. You could see the agony of sibling jealously seeping to the surface with each swing of her bat. Combined with her offspring'd desire to "get a hit" for her frequently absent father's attention, and you can well predict the disappointing outing she had at home plate.

Between inning changes when the other girls were downing gatorade, getting face spritzes from battery powered spray bottle fans, and suiting up for either offensive or defensive play, Jayme would be out trying to noodle into her Dad's lap out in the bleachers.

Eventually, because if was a double header and the girls got to play twice as much as during a single game, Jayme got a few hits, scored some runs, and made a decent outfield play.

A celebratory season ending pizza party at the local Pizza Hut followed, with many player's family members in tow, including Jayme's neo-nuclear extended family - minus one Mom for whatever reason. Jayme's Dad encouraged her to sit with the other girls , perhaps aware of the importance for her to bond with her teammates in a social setting.

She protested at first, but eventually ended up downing air baked pepperoni pies, sipping Dr. Pepper from paper cups, and watching an animated flick on the big screens situated around the hut with the rest of the blue jersey'd girl's of the team.

Much later, as I was tucking C into bed for a well deserved nighty-night, she told me that she was glad that Jayme's Dad came to the game, cuz "it was all she was talking about so it must have been important to her."

Kid's are darn observant.

She then told me she thought it was "pretty neat that I helped coach the team" and that was that.

All the thanks an inept asst. father/coach of his daughter's small town pee-wee softball team could want.

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