Slice of Life: To Coach or Not To Coach

Slice of Life(This is part of the Slice of Life project at Two Writing Teachers)

Yesterday, I brought my middle son to the Little League baseball evaluations, which often resemble a football combine where coaches walk around with clipboards, jotting down notes as the prospective ballplayers do their best to his the ball, pitch the ball and catch the ball after a winter of not even knowing where their gloves are (yeah, we had a bit of a scramble to find a glove).

My older son is all set. When you get to the “A” level, you stay on the same team, so there is no need to impress anyone. My middle son is right on the cusp — old enough to make the leap to “A” but young enough to stay in “B” for another year. He wants to go up to “A” and I think he is ready (mostly), and if he does go up to the “A” league, he will be on his older brother’s team.

It would be the first and maybe last time the two of them will be on a sports team together, given their age difference. They are always in two different levels, it seems, because they are just far enough apart in age.

My son did fantastic at the evaluations, if you don’t mind me saying.

His pitching was fast and on target, and his form was pretty amazing. He bashed some balls high and far. He caught grounders that came rocketing towards him. A few coaches asked if he was moving up. They were jotting notes down on their list about him. I nodded, but reminded them that he would be “taken” by his brother’s team (there is no way we are going to have two kids on two different teams). A few sighed at that reality.

Of course, it all depends on the draft, where coaches sit around and pick kids for teams. Those kids on the age bubble, like my son, will go last, and only if there are spaces on teams. But if my son is to move up (and it seems likely, as I mentioned), then we know where is going.

Meanwhile, as I was hovering like the dad that I am, I was stopped by the head coach of my older son’s “A” team.

“There you are,” he said. This coach is a serious coach, the coach of the high school varsity baseball team, and his daughter is on my older son’s team. He knows baseball, inside and out, and he has high expectations for the players on the team.

So, I thought: “Uh oh.”

He looked at me. “I need an assistant coach. Could you do it?”

Now, on one hand, that’s a cool thing to be asked, right? But honestly, I don’t know baseball all that well. Not the ins and outs of it. I’ve been an assistant down in lower levels, where my job has been to cheer kids on (that, I can do) and tell them to run the bases, hard, when someone hits the ball. This, however, is a whole other level. Last year, this same coach handed me the scorebook early in the year and asked me to keep track of the game, and I fumbled it to the point where he took it back and did it himself, while also coaching.

I told him I had think about it and consult with my wife.

“I want to be upfront,” I told him. “I don’t really know baseball. You’re asking me to help, and I appreciate it, but I want to be clear about it. My baseball knowledge is very limited.” (I wanted to add, my baseball background is playing Little League, pick-up ball in my neighborhood as a kid and drinking beer at Fenway Park, but I didn’t.)

“That’s OK,” he answered, “I just need a warm body.”

Did he mean that? Or what? So, I think I may do it, if only because I can spend time with both of my sons on the baseball field in spring and maybe, I can bring some fun into the mix. And did I mention I can cheer up a storm? Yeah, I’m good at that.

Peace (in the decision),

  1. This brings back memories! My husband coached our daughters basketball and softball teams. Those try outs and drafts really put me over the edge. Good luck with your decision. It is good to have balance on the coaching side – someone who raises the bar and someone who helps the kids believe they can reach it.

  2. Wow, for the guy who has lots of free time. But seriously, it’s a win/win. More to write about, more subjects for digital stories, more challenges for a lifelong learner. How hard baseball be for a guy who loves to figure out the in’s and outs of a new tech tool? Right?

  3. I am blown away by the idea of a combine/draft for Little League! I had no idea it could be that intense at that level! It sounds like both your boys are fantastic ball players and what a wonderful opportunity for you to be able to spend more time with them as they do something they love. Who cares if you don’t know much about baseball? It’s a chance for you to be in the “learning mode” like your students and gain more knowledge in a subject area. I bet they asked you because of your dedication to kids, your ability to organize and your enthusiasm. That said – make the choice that is right for you!

  4. Kevin,
    I love the way you tell both the “inner-story” and the “outer-story” in this Slice. It makes it robust and keeps me hanging on your words until the end.

    I’ll look forward to hearing what you decide to do.


  5. I’m really enjoying your Slice of Life stories…

    Our son is 18 now, and past the age when either of us can volunteer to coach his team.
    I’d love to have those years back again, even though we did take advantage of the opportunity and coached and got involved when he was younger. But the time passes so quickly, and before you know it, the chance is gone, and the child is grown… sigh.
    Enjoy the moments while they are there, cause they’re over in a heartbeat.


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