As a coach of a Little League® team filled with young players, you quickly find out what your role is. For me, it meant being seen as the ‘fun coach’. They even gave me a nickname: The Disney Coach.
I recently wrapped up my first season as coach of the Kaufman’s Funeral Home Tee Ball team. The kids are mostly 4- and 5-year-olds, so as you can probably imagine, my fellow coaches and I usually had our hands full. But more than anything else, we just had a lot of fun.
The games were always filled with excitement, not all of it baseball-related. At this level, the most acrobatic feats from the players usually involve doing somersaults in the outfield. It’s also not unusual to see a bit of wrestling: of the ball, of other players, of whatever they can get their hands on. But very rarely are the kids anything less than engaged and entertained.
As a rookie head coach it can be pretty intimidating having to be in charge of so many young kids. Fortunately, I had a great group of assistant coaches who helped me keep the train on the tracks, and I’m grateful for all their help.
There were a few reasons why I decided to take up coaching. For one, it’s often difficult to find enough volunteers who want to coach and have the time. I also felt that this particular age group was a good fit for me; I felt that Tee Ball would provide me the best opportunity to work with the kids and not have to worry about the final score.
Working with kids in this age group is great because you can leave aside the technical aspects of the game and just focus on keeping the kids interested and engaged. They’re still learning some of the fundamentals, but they’re also able to just enjoy themselves and have fun with their friends.
This also serves as a benefit to the parents, most of whom are trying to provide an opportunity for their kids to interact with others and develop social skills, without worrying so much about on-field success.
And that’s important, because the main goal should be to find out if this is something that they want to continue to do, and not just because they’re good at it. There aren’t any parents out there thinking their kids are going to go to Major League Baseball right away.
Coaching Tee Ball brought a lot of joy to me on a regular basis. Seeing the kids smile, laugh, and play together is such a wonderful thing. I loved watching them catch their first pop fly or hit the ball for the first time, their smiles light up. You can feel their excitement.
I’m sad that this season is over, but I can’t wait to get back into it next season. It’s without a doubt one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had!