BaileyTis the season.  I wish all of you a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  Yes, Happy Holidays!  For me this is the time of year to spend with family and friends, relaxing, playing cards, enjoying holiday dinners, college football bowl games and recharging my batteries.  This year will especially be nice with my oldest daughter Lindsay and her dog Bailey visiting from her home in Texas.  Hayley will be home on break from Ball State with her newly adopted kitty Sylla.  Brooke lives and works nearby and will likely be requested to do their hair.  

That's what I'll be doing.  But, you may be thinking:  What about the camp coming up?  What about the lesson?  She can't miss that scrimmage!  She needs to do her tee work!  She has to be at practice!  Does any of that sound familiar?  

And there's no better time than the holidays for your daughter to be...just your daughter.


syllaMy travel club has workouts on December 20th & 27th, but my high school workouts are off from December 17th through January 5th.  That's one of the differences between the two.  The social players need more breaks than the serious ones.  Often those couple of travel workouts are missing many players who are enjoying their family gatherings for the holidays.  That said, they all need breaks as I've mentioned plenty of times before.  And there's no better time than the holidays for your daughter to be...just your daughter.

We Can't Miss That!

Let's go through those questions you might have asked yourself.  Camps - Unless your daughter was personally invited to a camp, she can skip it.  As far as you're concerned, it's a Cash Cow that funds the college's program.  Lessons - Simple. Don't schedule them during the holidays. Seriously, one or two lessons won't make or break her.

Scrimmage - Would it be nice to play?  Sure.  There won't be any college coaches watching, so missing the game won't set her back.  The same goes for Practices.  For both of these if you have nothing else going on and she's eager to play, then go for it.  But, don't miss dinner at Grandma's for them.

I literally was getting no mental break from the 60-70 hour work schedule.

Tee Work and/or Other Individual Workouts -  Missing a couple hundred swings, pitches or crunches during the holidays won't seal her fate and destroy her game.  The real games don't even start until late winter or early spring (depending on what part of the country you're in)....and here in Michigan we're lucky to get games in before spring break (Mid-April).  She'll have time to get back at it.  For my travel team they will be expected to attend those 2 workouts over the holidays if they do not interfere with their family plans.

Charlie & AangAll of this is especially true for the athlete who does not participate in other sports during the fall or winter.  Seldom did I ever tell my daughters that they needed to take a break and just be a kid.  Brooke was pretty good at that.  Hayley became better at it over the years especially after ending her travel soccer days at the end of 8th grade.  If she wanted me to help her with tee work, she asked (etc.).  When she comes home, softball will not be discussed unless she brings it up and wants to talk about it.  And then I will simply just listen.  

It reminds me of earlier in my career when I was a retail manager.  I would bring my work home, whether venting about corporate headquarters, supply chain issues or dealing with lunatic customers.  After years of doing so I came to realize that when I left my job for the day I needed to leave everything about it there as well.  I literally was getting no mental break from the 60-70 hour work schedule.  And when I did this cold turkey, it was extremely rejuvenating.

We all have busy lives and sometimes we forget about how lucky we are.

Please don't misunderstand me with all of this talk about taking it easy, relaxing and taking breaks.  If your daughter is dedicated, focused and works hard while she's not taking these brief timeouts, then she'll benefit tremendously from these breaks.  It's only when she's constantly taking days off, ending self-workouts early and skipping lessons that it will negatively affect her development, performance and consistency in her game.  This would be like cheating on your healthy diet by eating fast food 3 days a week, while expecting to lose weight and feel good.  Insanity.

In the satirical article Your Daughter Moves to the Dark Side: Help for Dads, I wrote, "Your daughter will always be your daughter, but the days that she's your softball player will eventually end."  I hope that all you moms and dads out there can truly appreciate this and enjoy the holiday season with your daughters....not your softball players.  Do the things YOU can't do because of your commitment to your daughter's softball.  And encourage her to do the same.

Brooke & DieselCharity, Philanthropy & Gratitude

I am grateful for all of you supporting the Softball Journey website. We all have busy lives and sometimes we forget about how lucky we are.  Take a moment to reflect upon all that you have in your lives and forget about what you don't have or want.  Smile, make somebody laugh and be grateful for your family and friends. 

This time of year we Americans really pour out our hearts and kindness to help the less fortunate and needy.  Many of us have our own special things we do or causes we give to.  And there are numerous ways that such people are helped throughout the year.  However, there are no such government programs to help stray/homeless animals. 

Bailey, Sylla, Charlie, Aang & Diesel were all rescued.  Brooke's cat Diesel was found in a barn in northern Michigan.  Bailey was at the Humane Society in Austin, TX.  Sylla was adopted at a Pet Smart in Muncie, IN. Charlie was found outside an apartment complex on the west side of Michigan.  Aang was adopted at Pet Smart through PAWS in Flint, MI.  These animals are family now and have brought so much joy to our lives. 

In hard economic times like America is experiencing these days, many animals are neglected, turned loose or taken to shelters.  I am asking each of you to consider these animals this holiday season while you're thinking about helping those in need. 

I wish you all the best!

Greg Cruthers