"Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game."
--A., softball player
Two years ago, my younger daughter, Antonia, came home from school and said, “I want to play softball.”
We aren’t a family of athletes. We dance, sing, read, write, and make art. I was at a loss.
I said, “OK. Let me check into it.”
She said, “Izzy said it starts tomorrow.”
Her friend Izzy was the inspiration for her desire to play. And I thank her for it, to this day.
There are many reasons kids benefit from playing team sports—exercise, goal setting, working with a group. For adolescents, team sports can lead to success later in life:
"A study conducted by the Women's Sports Foundation found that adolescents that were regularly involved in teen sports were less likely to engage in sexual activity until later in life than those who were not in team sports. Also, teens on sport teams were found to be less likely to use drugs than their non-playing counterparts, and were less likely to be involved in abusive relationships. In addition, the students involved in sports had a higher chance of graduating high school and college."
|The Rockies and the Orioles, before the G.Y.A.A. Title Game.|
Scientific benefits aside, my girls love it! And I do, too, for there are many “parenting moments” that arise during softball season--opportunities to celebrate their wins, support them in their losses, and point out progress they’ve made after every game. Also, softball has a way of making great memories.
Last year both Sophia's and Antonia's teams made it to the G.Y.A.A. finals. Both girls had their first of many experiences grabbing the ball from the air and getting an “out.” And, Antonia had her first of many hits made during game-play.
Sophia could consistently hit during practice but failed to make contact with the ball during any of her games. . . . Until the last play of her final game, the one for the G.Y.A.A. Title:
Bottom of the last inning. Score tied, 2-2. Two outs. Sophia was up at bat.
I was scared for her and upset for her knowing that she so desperately wanted to make contact with the ball during a game just once. How could it come down to this--her final up at her final game was her final chance? And winning the conference final depended upon her successful hit?
Her coach shouted from first base, “You can do it, Sophia! Stay low. Keep your eye on the ball. You can do it!”
He clapped his hands with encouragement, I stood up, and my stomach jumped to my throat. Pitch, swing, and CRACK. She made contact, the ball went sailing between first and second, Sophia took off running, and the second baseman jumped to her left, threw up her arm…OUT!
At the most crucial moment of the title game, she made contact with the ball, and yet, her team lost. If that isn’t a lesson in the paradox of life, I don’t know what is.
Antonia's season was also a success. In addition to accomplishing her athletic goals, I watched her come out of her shell. A girl once slow to say, “Hello,” to anyone outside of her family or close-knit group of friends now has no problem lifting her hand to wave, and saying, “Hello,” as she enters a room full of new people.
Softball sign-ups are today. Like last year, I am certain I will be astonished as I watch Sophia and Antonia grow physically, mentally, and emotionally stronger. And I am certain to be grateful for memories captured—a testament to their journey.
|Linking up with Galit and Alison for April's Memories Captured|