Negative news sells.  Hence the expression, “If it bleeds, it leads.”  Stories of outrageous behavior grab and hold our attention.  We’ve been classically conditioned all of our lives to react this way.  Visit any of the major news websites at any point in time and read the top 5 headlines.  99% of it is nothing but the bad and the ugly.  Well, this article is about the good.

2015 stix moms

2015 stix dugoutOur 16u team is pretty competitive with a 28-11-1 record.  Although we have not won a tourney yet, we have finished near the top of the final standings a few times.  Has our season been successful?  Yes.  In my opinion it has been very much so.  Would we like to do a little better?  Yes, we’d like to win a tourney.  We have one remaining:  The ASA Northern Nationals in Novi, MI.  Maybe we’ll put it all together and make a run?  We shall see.

Many of our players are being actively recruited by colleges big and small.  As coaches who had daughters go through this process, we try to do everything we can to help these girls realize their dreams.  Sometimes we’re pretty tough on them, pushing them to their limits. Other times we try to help them relax when they seem to be feeling the pressures that come with competition and the recruiting process (see video).  Coaching is like that.  It’s not an exact science.  Each girl responds differently to the approaches we use.  We just try to find a happy medium where we can all be our best.  Regardless of the outcomes, we do have fun.

A travel season is from August to August.  That’s a long time for a group of players, parents and coaches to be together and get along.  I dare say that no team’s whole year is ever nothing but sunshine and unicorns.  There are always going to be those who aren’t buying what the coaches are selling in some form or another.  This season, however, has been pretty much awesome for us.  We couldn’t ask for a team that has gelled the way ours has or a group of parents who have supported their daughters, team and coaches more than they have this year!  And that includes the extended family members as well.

2015 stix dads“You know we’ve been here all day and you haven’t eaten.  Here’s a Jimmy Johns sub.  You need to eat.”  “Do you need water?”  “Can I get you anything?”  “I’ve got some granola bars, do you want one?”  “Do you want a coffee?”   “Come over to the campground.  We’re having a cookout.  Do you want anything to drink?”  “Do you need any sunscreen?”  “I’m going to the store.  Do you need anything?”  “C’mon we’re going to play Euchre at the hotel.”  “Thank you for everything you do.  We appreciate you.”   These are just a few of the things we hear all season long from our parents.

2015 stix umbrellaWhen the sun is shining bright or the rain is about to fall, miraculously a portable canopy or tarp appears over the bench area.  When a player is injured, a swarm of moms appear to help her on the bench with somebody’s dad fetching a bag of ice.  The same is true when a coach takes (another) foul ball to the head during the game.  Couldn’t find a hotel room one night….no worries…several offers to stay with families at the campground or to help find a room.  Parents helping each other out in all the ways mentioned above….well that is just the norm this year.  And we’ve also seen some of the most wonderful acts of kindness and compassion towards one another.

2015 stix coachesIn times when lunacy and chaos rule the headlines, I believe that the vast majority of softball parents are a lot like ours.  I see evidence of this when I watch and/or talk with parents of our opponents.  I see parents setting great examples of sportsmanship with the opposing team's parents, players and coaches.  Over the years when my daughter played travel ball we enjoyed some great groups of parents.  All it takes is a year when it’s not so great to appreciate the times that it is.  Quite simply, this has been a fabulous season.  Our team’s parents are awesome and we are truly grateful!