Those of us who have been involved in youth sports for a good while now sometimes forget the wonder – and the anxiety – of a kid’s first year of playing. And of a parent’s first year of watching or coaching that first year.
I remember my older son playing t-ball that first year in a YMCA league. He played in the infield dirt as much as he played second base. Of course, there were a good half-dozen kids in their white team shirts guarding the infield on the off chance that a batter actually hit a ball hard enough to squirt through the defense.
From the sidelines (I wasn’t a coach on that team) I kept trying to get his attention and tell him to, for heaven’s sake, STAND UP and watch the ball. He enjoyed playing baseball but his attention span that first year was, well, limited.
Watching your son or daughter during that first season can create a spectrum of emotions. Which is why I enjoyed this article and think you will too. It brings back a lot of the memories and feelings of that season – and that time in the lives of my son, who would be embarrassed if I brought it up in conversation today.
He never did like the game as much as my second son, who played his first season with an intensity far different from the first. He kept track of wins and losses, even though nobody really was keeping score. He knew which team (each wore a different color t-shirt) he’d played against when he’d gotten this hit or thrown out that runner.
A very different first season. And maybe part of the reason was because his dad wasn’t quite so nervous, having been through it already. I could relax and enjoy the games, offer pointers on batting stance and fielding grounders without feeling I might upset the fragile psychic ecosystem of coaches and players at that age.
Like a first child, a first season in youth sports is a blur of emotions, and you think you’re the first parent to go through it in quite the way you do. Truth is, most first seasons are the same for every parent. And if you let yourself enjoy it, chance are your child will too.