I went on a bit of a tweet-tear this morning, might be easier to read in this form:
Youth sports is a machine now. It’s a money making engine. And it’s not just baseball; many of you parents do it for soccer, cheer, dance, lacrosse, swimming, basketball, etc.
I am fully aware that my family feeds into it.
There is a place for recreational sports, it doesn’t have to be ‘select’ or nothing.
My Saturday morning consisted of hosting Opening Day ceremonies for our local Rec program and it was amazing. The joy on the faces was contagious.
Parade of teams; first pitches; new uniforms; home run derby’s; T-ball kids running to the wrong base; and parents that were just excited to see little Johnny try something out.
Parents of young ones, if I have any advice, don’t look past those days.
Will there be a day that you need to move Johnny into something more competitive? Possibly. But I promise you, it’s entirely okay to allow them to play for fun.
Please don’t take the fun away. Not for an upgraded jersey or a $5 ring (or worse, your own bragging rights).
Let them dream of playing in the big leagues. Are their chances high? No. Do fractional statistics about their chances of playing SS for a living on the Yankees matter to a 10-year old? Nope. Encourage them to dream big.
Utilize team sports to teach lessons. Teamwork. Encouraging others. Dusting yourself (and others) off when you fail. Overcoming struggles and losses. Celebrating little and big wins. Building (and re-building) confidence.
I’ve seen it and said it 1 million times:
Parents ruin youth sports.
Don’t be that parent.
My rules for being a good sports (or other extra-curricular) parent:
1. Cheer for your player and their teammates.
Now, I admit that I break rule number 1. I don’t have it all figured out but I’m working on it. When I’m a grandparent, I’ll nail it.
When the game is over. Tell them you love them and that you enjoyed watching them play. Mean it.
They’re going to strike out. They’re going to make errors. They’re going to *insert every mistake you can think of for your preferred sport*.
Tell them you’re proud of them.
Some of the best lessons my boys have learned have come from things that have happened in the participation of activities with others. I’m thankful for those lessons, some of which I can’t teach on my own.
However, there are a couple I can teach; your mileage may vary…
Lessons that I have on my plate to teach them:
1. Love God
2. Know that God loves you.
3. Love your neighbor.
4. Know that your family loves you.
If I can get them to understand those, the rest has a good chance of working itself out.
If I ever make it my goal of teaching them that their worth is based on their performance, I failed. (And trust me, I have)
“I love you and I enjoyed watching you play.” – dad
If you can do that, you’re gonna nail being a sports parent.
My apologies, this tweet storm probably would have been a little more suited for an email or a blog post.
I guess the moral of the story is this: baseball is fun. Go play catch with your kid (or do whatever else it is that they love to do).
This past Saturday, the boys and I did a little re-arranging of their playroom. Adding a second bookshelf and a larger TV. While it took a little longer than if I had tackled on my own, I encouraged and appreciated their help with the project. Hopefully it gives them a little more ownership of it. Ended up taking about 3.5 hours, here it is (in its’ non-level glory) in :25 seconds.
I started coaching baseball to introduce my boys to the greatness that is America’s pastime and to be able to connect to them through something that we could participate in together. Little did I know how much other good could come from it. Through baseball we’ve been able to minister to others, form new/lasting relationships, test our own faith, learn (more) patience, hone our parenting skills, learn to communicate better, and to navigate the murky waters of organizational politics; I’m sure there’s plenty more.
I’ve also had the ability to connect with a bunch of boys who at 4-8 years old may or may not be sure about themselves, their abilities, their desire for playing a team sport, or even have much confidence in general. We’ve won titles and had seasons where we came in somewhere close to last place and yet every season we walk off with our heads held high and smiles on our faces.
I’ve coached with some great guys – guys who I’d go to battle for every day. I’ve coached with some crazies as well; they’ve all taught me something.
Many times you don’t realize what you’ve learned until you take a moment to step away and examine; while I’m not ready to step away from baseball yet, our situation will probably change a little going forward. This fall will most likely be the first time our baseball family we call the Grapevine Horn Frogs will not field a team in something like 6 or 7 seasons. Most of us already new it but I hadn’t really taken the time to process it properly yet. It’s very bittersweet.
My goal has always been to teach respect, good character, and integrity to some young folks (and sometimes their parents) through the game of baseball. Little did I know what all I might learn from them.
This weekend I was rewarded with a gift much more fulfilling than a gift card or a night out on the town. My Frog family got together without my knowledge and put together a small token of their appreciation for me, they did a great job. Feel free to take 5 minutes and enjoy a few of the knuckleheads I’ve had the pleasure of being around the last 4 years.
I yelled at you today and of course, I shouldn’t have. You didn’t deserve it. 6-year-olds surely don’t. I’ll admit, I was frustrated with you but you were only the straw; I’m not exactly sure where the build up began but sadly the pressure released on you.
I love you. I have high expectations of you. And to be honest, they’re unrealistically high expectations. You’re advanced in so many areas that I often fail to remember that you only have six years or so under your belt. Wisdom doesn’t come overnight yet I often lay that burden on you like it should.
One of the most important things to me is that you turn out to be a better man than I am. That you make better decisions, that you relate better to people, that you set better examples. When I watch you stumble, I see patterns of my life which could potentially be where some of the unleashing stems from. I potentially get upset because I see you only mimicking my bad behavior.
Without turning this on you, here’s a few of areas that I’d love to get better about teaching you but for you to learn them, I know I have to model them.
I realize it takes a lot of nerve to ask for your patience with me as I get better with these things on a day where I potentially made you feel lower than low. I’m a work in progress.
I’m sure by now, you’ve seen me in action – I’m a classic one-upper. Many of my interactions with people in life go on while a good majority of my brain is working through what to say next. I’m a weak listener and I dish advice like a street-prophet. Even if I haven’t been there or seen that, I’ve got a story to match it. I’m prideful, vengeful, inwardly focused, and outwardly cynical. I’m like a mixed cocktail of the characteristics that most people avoid all stirred up into one.
Help me and join me in working each day to become less self-centered. Winning is fun but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. You know what matters? Building your brother up instead of tearing him down or repeatedly putting him in second place. Likewise, your mother has constantly traversed the waters of a husband that has all too often put his own interests first for almost 15 years. They both deserve better of us.
When I – and hopefully you by watching my modeled behavior – quit worrying about how we’re perceived, most of the following areas we need to work on should automatically resolve themselves… (more…)
*For those tl;dr folks, there’s some pictures down below.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of being in my house, you know that we’re a little cozy and limited on space. Most days I like it that way, helps me to keep my material possession desires in check. We’ve had the boys in the same room for a while now but were just working off of two Ikea Malm twin beds in different corners of the room. It was functional but not necessarily practical. Discussions of bunk beds were had on several occasions but neither myself or my wife could come to agreement on what those would actually be.
I’m not actually sure what the final straw was that made me really decide to make a change but sometime a month and a half or so ago, I finally decided it was time. Instead of going the standard Rooms-to-Go/Ikea/pressed laminate or particle board route, I wanted to do something a little more custom for them and after a bit of just Google-ing ideas, I felt like I found the right solution. Once again, discussions were had due to past examples of my “handi-work,” but I finally won over the person in charge of the house and she agreed to let me move forward.
It was a random Sunday evening when I sent my business partner Ryan a text message to let him know we were closing up shop on the following Monday; once he found out why, it didn’t take much to convince him. He was at the house around 8 or 9 that next morning and we quickly loaded up for the closest big box hardware store here in town.
We spent an entire day (with multiple Lowe’s trips), 30 some-odd pieces of standard 2″ x 4″ x 8′, lots of screws/bolts/anchors, and about 50′ of nylon rope to end up hanging two custom, twin-sized beds from the wall in our boys’ room. They’re quite heavy, more than I anticipated. They’re each anchored 5 or 6 times into wall studs and the ropes are anchored as well. My wife was pleasantly surprised when she got home to see that we both accomplished the task and they turned out decently as well. She still had concerns about them purely hanging so I added the steel pipe, corner stands under the free-hanging corner to ease her (and my) concerns.
In addition, I created some birch wood rails that slide under the edge of each mattress so they don’t come tumbling down in the middle of the night. The color of the birch matches the color of the 2 x 4’s pretty well. Finally, I created a solid, yet removable ladder to get up and down from the top bunk. It’s made out of some of the leftover 2 x 4’s from the project and is a nice replacement to the metal folding ladder I offered them for the first few days.
The boys love them and have been put on a scheduled rotation of who gets the top bunk, changing out each time we wash their sheets. It’s created more play space for them in their room and allowed us to free up the other bedroom in our house purely for guests and/or a nice open space for us to make the boys go play when they’re being a little too noisy!
Since I don’t normally get to work with my hands, it was a nice change of pace. I was able to create something custom for my family, keep the cost well below what we might have paid for a nice set of bunk beds, and possibly even restored a little confidence in my wife that might allow me to try another project down the road.
I’m sure there’s much more to say about the craftsmanship, the process, the tools, the legacy, etc but I’ll leave that for another day or possibly another writer.
Here’s a few shots of the finished pieces. If you want more details about our process or the plans for the beds, hit me up.