When I was a young Little League Softball® player, I anxiously awaited every spring because that meant a new season, a new team, a new uniform, new cleats. Gosh, growing up in Pennsylvania, some of those days we had to wear snow suits while walking in the opening day parade, but the anticipation of the next few months to follow and walking with new and old friends blurred out any chill. While those days seem so distant while living my current life as a working wife and mother to a 6-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter, I can easily remember my childhood as a Little Leaguer®.
From the time I was six, I was privileged to have the opportunity to play in our community’s local league, Tee Ball through Big League Softball. I grew up in a baseball-loving family, my dad coached my team for years. I was an ok player, never a superstar, so my excitement for the new season wasn't about showcasing my talent, it was about the opportunity to see my friends outside of school, into the summer. It was also about cheering on my team together from the dugout, enjoying a post-game concession stand snow cone, watching and cheering on my friends playing in other games, and helping my dad keep the scorebook while he coached my twin brothers’ team. I'm pretty sure I could share memories for days, but while it is important to remember my Little League® past, I’m more excited about my current day anticipations.
Now, I look forward to hopefully being a Little League mom. My husband grew up as a Little Leaguer, and we are blessed to have the Little League Baseball® World Series just a few miles away, which we take our family to every summer.. So, it's pretty much a given that we will encourage our kids to play. My son was old enough last year to participate in Tee Ball, but we couldn't convince him it was a good idea until sign ups had passed. That turned out to be a good thing because his hesitation has been replaced by excitement. Now he's ready, and talks about it often, and I feel my heart set to burst! There already have been other extracurricular activities he's expressed in -- martial arts, pee wee league basketball -- and I know there will be others, but nothing gets me more excited than providing him, and my daughter, with the same Little League opportunity I had in my youth.
I can't wait to don their team colors and sit in the bleachers and eat hot dogs from the concession stand, while cheering for them. I am committed to volunteering at my local league to help it run smoothly so every player and family can benefit from the experience. But, I look forward to being a Little League mom for an even bigger reason, and it's not because I want bragging rights, or them to win every game, or play for a packed Lamade Stadium, or because I'm going to practice tirelessly with my daughter so she can get a college scholarship, or hope my son gets drafted by the Yankees, (or if you ask him or my husband, the Orioles, a topic which we'll just let lay inside parentheses). I do not want them to be overly concerned with winning the big games, or pitching the perfect game or hitting a walk-off home run.. What I’m most excited about is for them is to have those dreams that I had as a little girl, and the pure joy on those faces of kids I see my friends post on Facebook from communities throughout the world. I want them to learn the on and off the field lessons that come with being a Little Leaguer: winning and losing as a team, the importance of learning from failure or not making the starting lineup, being there to support teammates, how not to get a brain freeze from those snow cones, learning the ins and outs of the game while watching their friends from other teams, making friends from other schools. These are lessons I know I can't always teach. I'm not knocking any other youth sports organization, and I'm hoping both of my kids have other interests as well. It’s just the Little League experience is different, and I cannot deny how it makes my mommy-heart feel when I think of my children participating in an organization where they pledge:
This pledge spans much further than sports. That is why I'm excited to be Little League mom. I know my kids will be a part of something that has my back, as I'm trying to raise them right.