Child's Play – By Floyd Lewis - Do you really want my advice
By Softball West
Then here it is. I have a friend that I've known for many years. Since we now live hundreds of miles apart, I don't see him and his family much, but he does call me from time to time. And every time he calls I start to cringe. It's not that I dislike him; I love him, his wife and his two daughters. You see, he never calls to see how we are doing; he always calls because he needs my advice on something.
His youngest daughter plays travel ball, and since my daughter also played travel ball, high school softball and in college, his conversation always starts the same; "Since you've been through all this, I could really use your advice." And we talk for an hour discussing his problems and how I think he should handle them. I'm always very polite in giving him my opinion, but it's very obvious that he never gets my message.
Therefore I'm going to use my column to be very blunt in providing him with the "advice" he is seeking. While he may read this and become upset with me, most likely if he does read it, he'll think I'm talking about someone else, that it couldn't possibly be about him. But this message needs to be communicated to him and to the many other parents of travel ball players, so listen up.
First of all, I appreciate the fact that you make such sacrifices for your daughter. Travel ball consumes much of our resources and time. But the cause of all the problems and drama you are experiencing is, you. It's not the coach, it's not the team, its you. When you called to discuss the "problems" with your daughter's travel ball team, I stated that perhaps this was not the team for your daughter. But as a member of the team, you should accept the coach's decisions and fulfill your obligations to the team.
So what did you do? You packed up your family two days into ASA Nationals and left the team, flying home early. Is that being a team player? I told you that as a parent, I never got caught up in any of those things, because it would not have done me, the team, nor my daughter, any good. I suggested that you not let it bother you and permit your daughter to find her place on this team. So you go out and quit this team to try and find "something" better.
No matter how many times you have told me, "Yeah, we don't get caught up in all that, but….," you end up in another situation where you need my advice. Your most recent call had to do with problems your daughter was having with her high school coach. She feels like the coach is ignoring her and not being friendly, so you think perhaps it would be best if she didn't play high school softball.
So again, in my polite way, I tell you to butt out of it, and have your daughter meet with the coach and explain how she feels. Immediately you respond that you think that you and your daughter should meet with the coach.
Can't you see where this is headed; to escalation of the drama, and not resolving it? You've become that type of parent that coaches and the parents of other players on the team dislike; a meddling, pushy, backstabbing, trouble-making parent. And your actions are rubbing off on your daughter, as she looks for "things" to complain about to get you involved and you jump at the chance, because you've always been there when "things didn't go well." You, your family and especially your daughter have created an environment where you are not able to enjoy the experience of playing this great game, because there is always something that needs to be changed, or fixed.
If you read this and never call me again, I'll understand. But I sincerely hope that you do read this, realize where your actions are leading and accept my advice. Let your daughter play the game. Take your ice chest and lounge chairs, sit in left field, and enjoy every pitch, every at bat and every inning that she plays. Because before you know it, she'll be done playing this game, and all of your drama will not have done anything except cause you to miss out on what can and should be a wonderful experience.
THE NEW YOUTH COACHES
I may be wrong in this, but is there a new breed of youth softball coaches coming along? For the most part, our youth softball travel coaches have traditionally come from recreation leagues, when these coaches take their daughters and a few other players from the league and start a new travel team, or join an existing organization. If you look at most of the established travel ball coaches, from 12 and under through Gold programs, a great majority of them have started from these roots, but each year, we see a few of them dropping out of the sport. Within the past six years or so, I have witnessed a new type of coach entering the youth softball scene. These are not recreation league coaches, but rather ex-college softball players. Only a few of these have made their way into the Gold coaching ranks, but there is little doubt that many more of these ladies that grew up in the travel program are now coming back to help our young players. I think it is a great opportunity for youth players to have role models to look up to; players who have actually been in their cleats and can give sound advice. Most of them have also been exposed to several coaches and have hopefully retained the positive elements of those that they most respected when they were players.
I had such a great time at the Palm Springs Classic college softball tournament, mostly due to the fact that I was able to see so many friends that I rarely see. From old teammates and their parents that my daughter use to play with, to past coaches and folks that I've met during my time in this sport * * * * One such person was Larry Mays, he of multi national winning Gordon's Panthers fame who retired his program a few years back. Nice to see him again * * * * As always, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org * * * * and so the ball rolls.