I coach little league. I tie shoes. I straighten hats. I answer the most ridiculous questions.
I coach little league. I instruct the uninstructable. I coach kindergartners and first-graders to keep their hands to themselves. I say things like, “Sit down, E! Stand up, T!, and Wake up, C!”
I stop the construction of makeshift sand castles at shortstop. I break up wrestling matches among teammates in left field. I demand no more singing of “I’m Sexy and I Know It” on the bench. I coach little league and I love it!
Coaching little league is five percent baseball and ninety-five percent World Ethics 101. Getting a six-year old to hit a baseball is easy. Getting that same little leaguer to sit on a bench for forty-five seconds straight is damn near impossible.
Coaching little league is like being a press secretary. There’s a rapid fire of unanswerable questions at all times. And if you don’t pay attention you just might make the news with a wrong answer.
Little Leaguer: Coach, do you like my haircut?
Me: Get back in the batter’s box.
LL: Is the game almost over?
Me: Nah, it’s the first inning. Take your glove off of your head.
LL: I’m hungry.
Me: Eat some grass.
LL: Can I play first base?
Me: No. You can play third base or sit the bench.
LL: I wanna sit on the bench.
Me: It’s your turn to bat.
LL: When is Christmas?
Me: After the season.
LL: I have to go to the bathroom.
Me: Go find your father.
LL: Can you help me with my cup in my pants?
Me: Go find your mother.
LL: Can I keep this ball?
Me: No, we’re stilling playing with that ball. It’s the first inning.
LL: I’m hungry.
Me: Here, have some almonds.
LL: But Coach, I think I’m allerg…
Me: Be quiet, eat up and play ball.
I coach my son’s little league team with a friend from the neighborhood. We live in a small community and we already knew most of the boys on our team before the season started. Most of the boys are neighbors and classmates. These other boys are our new friends.
The beauty about living in a small community is interacting with other families. It’s about being part of people’s lives and watching the growth of children, yours and others. One year a neighborhood mother is helping my son with Early Intervention Speech Therapy. The next year I’m helping her son hit a baseball and watching his eyes light up when he reaches first base. It doesn’t matter if you lose 25-21 in the box score, because you still walk away a winner.
Sure, I love watching my own son hit the ball up the middle and slide awkwardly into second base. That’s a reward in itself. But I also love watching the smallest kid on the team get the big hit, and I love watching the biggest kid on the team make a small play.
I originally shied away from coaching because I never wanted to be That Guy. You know That Guy, right? That Guy yells at his kid and yours to CATCH THE FRIGGIN BALL! That Guy yells at umpires and puts together highlight film of his seven-year-old to send to colleges in hopes for an early scholarship. That Guy never realized his own big league dream and he’s taking it out on your little leaguer.
I used to write local sports for a newspaper and I came across That Guy every week. So much so, it made me think twice about my own role in my son’s sport’s life. But when my friend asked to help him coach the team I jumped at the chance. And I think I’ve succeeded so far in not being That Guy.
I expect that our boys listen. I expect that they try and challenge themselves. I expect that they take the opportunity to succeed and cheer them on if they don’t. I expect that they enjoy themselves.
I expect that they respect each other. I expect that they get better. But mostly, I expect that they go to the bathroom before they show up to the field. I’m not joking. It’s like a Flomax commercial out there. These little leaguers are running around the diamond with the overactive bladders of sixty-year old men.
But so far nobody has pee’d on third base. So far nobody has bled on home plate. So far we haven’t been in the E.R. or in the newspaper. There’s been a lot whining and a little crying, but mostly it’s from the sidelines. And lastly, we’ve had no quitters. This is how I measure success as a little league coach. After twelve games we are still undefeated in my opinion.
I am a little league coach…and I need a drink.
I am Kevin Harris, a father of four and husband to one very understanding woman. And yes, we know exactly what’s causing all these pregnancies! My home life makes me smile and I like to share that laughter with others. Hopefully, you can find a bit of your home life reflecting in my pathetic blog. Like it. Seriously, you know you want to. Just click the damn thumb already. For more of my writing I suggest you visit my favorites page….http://mypatheticblog.tumblr.com/tagged/favorites