The Quality of Our Game

 

As an instructor you see various children with all types of skill levels. Parents have their reasons for seeking instruction. Some have identified a gift or special talent and want to support their children the best they can, even if this means personal and/or financial sacrifices. Some unfortunately live through their children. And when this happens nothing positive happens for both for the child and parent. Some are looking for a spark of interest to literally get the child off the couch. Some kids are coming off a near career ending injury and need a safe and new approach to the game. Some are seeking a savior – a previous coach or instructor has destroyed their self-esteem. Whatever the case, whenever a parent calls, you know their expectations are great and you are more than a special tutor. You are entering the life of a child and the child will someday be a woman who once played softball.

I am not sure many softball coaches and instructors realize the impact they have on their students and their community. The more we build this game at all levels the more young women we encourage to reach their full potential on and off the field. And, without sounding too controversial, those of us who played and coached have a broader understanding of our roles. I am not sure many people understand what a college scholarship means? How many of our instructors understand and truly support Title IX? (let alone lived it.) Yes there are the students, who are working towards their dream of playing in college, but there are those who are young enough who just love to play and want to be a part of the game. We now have this opportunity. It is our duty to give all students equal attention and training. Winning is completed by notion of strength. But sport is defined by teamwork, inspiration, etiquette, character, and quality, depth of knowledge, respect, and self-respect. My friend Sheila had the opportunity to coach both genders in basketball she said the biggest difference is, “self-confidence.” She said you have to constantly tell the boys, “No you are not that good. Pass the ball!” Girls you have to constantly build their confidence with, “yes you are that good. Take the shot!” Do those who have never played have this understanding? Can these same instructors understand both the impact of scholarship and personal excellence? Winning coaches are strong in character and heart, not only technique and strategy.

I have several students who have come to me because they have been thrown away by other instructors. Maybe they were in a class with the “superstar”, maybe they had a hard time understanding verbal instruction, maybe they didn’t have the ideal body type…in the instructor’s mind these were the ones who could not get the college scholarship and were not worth their time. I think it was the instructor who was not a talented teacher! Whatever the reason, they were tossed aside and their confidence destroyed. Mind you the instructor still took their money, but never took the time to invest in the child like the families invested in them – future scholarship or not. I have an immense amount of contempt for instructors who use their students as trophies. As if the top players wouldn’t be successful without them! And they have the right to determine the others as nothing! Don’t they understand they made these kids feel like nothing? Don’t these people know the negative impact they can have on their lives and the quality of our game? I repeat… The Quality of Our Game.

This game is more and deserves better. I guess I am a softball purist. As I write this there is an interview with John Wooden on the local news channel. As a young coach I read his books and watched all of his interviews. A hometown hero! He was asked how he wanted his basketball legacy to be remembered. He quickly responded, “I hope I am not remembered for the teams I coached, but for the man I was.”

SoftballOne, Inc
3810 N ST RD 267, Brownsburg, IN 46112
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Serving the Avon, Brownsburg, Indianapolis, Zionsville and Anderson fastpitch communities, SoftballOne provides fundamental softball training to youth and college players.

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