Child's Play by Floyd Lewis - Time Travel
By Softball West
I'm looking over my suitcase, to insure that I have packed everything needed for the trip. Tomorrow I board my flight to Hawaii to watch my daughter's college team play softball. As I close the case, I begin to think about her progression through various levels of softball, realizing this senior season will most likely be her last year playing. This progression followed a continual path of increased competition level, as well as continual progression in the methods of travel and preparation for attending the games.
Yes, as you move from one phase of softball competition to the next, the way you get there, and what you take with you, advances at each level. Following is my summary of these various phases. You will find your current phase somewhere on this list, and I provide it as a public service, to assist you in your future planning, so something doesn't jump up and bite you out of the blue.
PHASE ONE: This is the early stage of Recreation Softball. It usually starts between the ages of 8 and 10, and involves you signing up your child to play in the local recreation league. The only method of transportation needed for this phase is the vehicle you currently own. The only addition needed is a small ice chest, but only because you have found out that for game ten on the schedule you have to provide the team snacks, and you need something to keep the drinks you are bringing cold.
Your time investment is minimal as games are short, and you can remain fairly comfortable sitting in the bleachers for that small period of time. You get to hang with the parents of the other players, many of whom you already know, and you spend more time talking to them about what's going on at school and in your community than you do about the game itself. Of course you do see every at bat your daughter has, and every ball she fields or pitches.
PHASE TWO: This is the Recreation All Star Team stage, and usually happens between the ages of 10 and 12. Your daughter has been selected to be on the local recreation league's All Star team, which sounds great to you, but being new, you really don't know what to expect. After your first experience at something called a "tournament," you realize that changes are needed for you to be a real all-star parent.
You quickly find out that being at a tournament means that you will be at the field for extended periods of time. Therefore, you invest in a larger ice chest, because you need snacks during and after the games. You also need a folding chair with an umbrella that attaches to it, to keep the sun off. Although these games are played within driving distance, you need to upgrade to a station wagon or minivan to accommodate to the extra equipment and larger ice chest.
PHASE THREE: This is the first venture into travel softball. This can happen anywhere between the ages of 10 to 13. It doesn't take long to find out that at this stage of softball, you might have to spend the entire day at the field. Therefore, you need a much larger ice chest with wheels, as now you need not just snacks, but a lunch during the day.
The station wagon/minivan you purchased last year no longer suffices. You need an SUV or motor home to get all of your stuff to the games or stay in, as you are gone from home for the entire weekend. The motor home is nice, because once this "softball thing" is over the family can take some nice vacations in it. Whatever the vehicle, the extra room is needed to provide sleeping space for your daughter to and from the tournaments.
The folding chairs and umbrella no longer hack it, so you purchase collapsible beach chairs in their own carrying cases and an EZ-Up for shade. You want to be comfortable for the long days at the ballpark. You should buy stock in a sunscreen company at this phase.
PHASE FOUR: This is when your daughter has shown the skill level needed to compete at the highest level of competitive softball. This phase usually happens between the ages of 13 and 16. You still get to use the SUV/motor home on occasion, but now you find it much more likely that you will be flying to the location of the tournaments your daughter will be playing in. You hang on to the motor home, because when she stops playing softball, you will finally get to use it for an actual family vacation.
You now become adept at handling your travel plans on the Internet, booking flights, hotels and rental cars online. All of your money goes toward these trips (and hitting/pitching lessons and team fees.)
PHASE FIVE: This is the college phase of softball. Not many make it, but it is awesome if your daughter gets her education and plays softball at the same time. Since she may be at a school over 1,500 miles away, it soon becomes apparent that you will no longer be able to attend all of her games. You are experienced in booking travel plans online, so the few weekends you can make events are easily handled. You pick and choose the best opportunities to make the trip, to maximize games you can see.
PHASE SIX: This is life after softball. The motor home is too old and broken down to take anywhere. You've mortgaged the home to the hilt, so you sell the motor home in hopes of being able to do something as a couple. And yet you look back on the past eleven years, and realize that you have had a great time.
I hope to catch you at a game soon. As always, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org_and so the ball rolls.