This spring, Aidan is playing a pre-T-ball, fun-only, fundamentals version of baseball called Kinderball. I somehow got myself talked into being the assistant coach for his team, the Royal Blue Gators. The head coach is my old college roommate, whose 4-year-old is also playing; I figured I could learn a thing or two and have some fun while supporting my son.
I had no idea how nervous I would be for our first practice tonight. I spent all day thinking about it, fretting about it, wanting to back out of it, and talking about it with coworkers. Some suggested I just go and have fun; others thought it funny to suggest I go into the season yelling and spitting at the kids, ordering push-ups and laps around the field. I wasn't really encouraged by either option, but I decided to stick to my word and give it a go.
On the way to the park where the practice would be held, my roommate Barry called and informed me he would be late because of a meeting at work. Could I handle it? Sure, I said. No problem. As soon as the call ended, my real thoughts emerged: Oh no! 'Sure'? Am I kidding myself? I haven't touched a baseball since I was ten! I don't know any of the kids; I hardly know where this park is! What skills do I teach? I don't have a ball, a glove, a bat, or even the right shoes! And on and on. We were even running a bit late ourselves, so, no I can't do this. But, I have to do this. Definitely can't back out now. I can do this! I think...
We ended up getting to the park right on time. Barry's wife, Rachel, was the only other parent there, so one pressure was immediately lifted. I talked with her briefly about what they had done last year. From somewhere, buried deep in my subconscious teacher-training memory probably, ideas began to percolate into my noggin. We can play a name game! We can roll a ball back and forth and say our names. This will help me get to know the kids and introduce them to a basic principal of the game. It'll be great!
It was great! By the time Barry arrived, I had all the kids' names learned and associated correctly with their cute little faces. Most of them were smiling and at least somewhat engaged. Coach Barry ran us through some drills for catching ground balls until it began to get chilly. We closed early with some important information for the parents and called it a day.
I loved watching all the kids struggle with and then succeed at catching the ball, especially Aidan. He had his batting helmet on the entire evening, despite not even touching a bat. He was smiling and laughing while chasing baseballs and every once in a while paying attention to Coach Dad. It was a good first practice! I'm looking forward to next week's. I can honestly say that I had a lot of fun.
I can also honestly say that I will be sore tomorrow—three- and four-year-olds have much more energy than I do!