I want to take time out to congratulate my daughter Monique and her Wilson Commencement Academy Wildcats teammates on winning the Section 5-City High school Softball championship for here in Rochester, New York. She’s currently a Junior reserve Right-fielder on her Varsity team. It was a great game that ended early by mercy rule as they won by 15 runs, with an inning and a half left to play. There are some exceptional athletes on her team, some have received Division 1 scholarship offers to various schools, some haven’t as of yet and some probably never will. Either way, they always play as a team and are supportive of each other. When you watch them play there is life in the group, they respect what each other brings to the table and no one player is more important than the other. There’s an innocence in youth sports when we allow kids to play simply for the love of playing… either with their friends, for the competition or to try and make a career out of it. When adults get involved… it all starts to get sort of tainted and the innocence starts to get lost.
Yesterday I watched a group of young ladies jumping up and down grasping a huge trophy, passing it to one another, taking pictures with it and then it happened. One parent decided that they needed to point out that their daughter reached a personal statistical milestone for the season during the game and they were holding the ball that she did it with. We were all suppose to stop taking pictures, celebrating with each other, high-fiving each other, rolling around on the ground with each other to listen to how, in that moment, one person was more important than the collective team. Thankfully, all the parents continued to snap pictures, the girls kept cheering and rolling around on the ground celebrating… including this parent’s own daughter. The parent was left clutching a ball that only meant something to them. To her credit, this young lady is a heck of an athlete and I love watching her play and she will go on to greater things if she can remain focused and not be jaded by her parent’s efforts to make her more important than her teammates. Being a life-long athlete myself, I’ve always seen the parents who selfishly try to “fix” their own past failures by living through their children. I will say right here and right now, no matter what stats I put up as a baseball player through my life, no matter who scouted me or recruited me… my daughter has forever surpassed me as a the better family athlete. And honestly, I’m perfectly okay with that. She’s a “Champion” and she earned it… with her teammates and through her own effort and I couldn’t be more proud of her.
Parent’s… we’ve had our time and unfortunately many of us are not retired major leaguers or headed for the Hall of Fame for any organized activity… except parenting. The next time you’re at your child’s game, think about how you felt when your dad yelled at the ref when a bad call was made against you or when your coach asked you to please tell your dad to calm down at games. Being that kid is not a good feeling. Let the kids be kids and let the game be the game. It would be great if we could represent our children the way that we ask them to represent us when they’re not around us.