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GAIL WHITE Little League coaches, be sure to cover all the bases



Published: Fri, April 5, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



To Every Little League Baseball coach,

You have my son on your team this year. He is a wonderful boy and is so excited to play baseball.

He is out practicing every day after school and is already talking about how many home runs he is going to hit and how many bases he is going to steal.

He says he is going to be a professional baseball player when he grows up. He plans on hitting more home runs than Mark McGwire.

As his mother, I tend to believe his aptitude lies in math but I certainly don't discourage his superstar ambitions.

He is a boy full of fun and vigor. We have taught him to listen when others are speaking and obey directions.

Yet sometimes, when he is excited, he forgets those lessons. I trust you will reprimand him when his mind wanders.

Trying his best: Since he was very young, we have encouraged him to do his best and try his very hardest.

He often gets discouraged because, though he does his best, he is not the best. And sometimes when he tries his hardest, he still makes mistakes.

He is worried that you will not understand his shortcomings and your patience will wear thin with his errors.

I have tried to tell him that you understand he is not perfect. Little League is about making mistakes and learning from them -- developing a love of the game. But, when it comes to baseball, Mom's words don't seem to have the impact that yours will.

Fun: I thank you for volunteering your time this season. You will spend countless hours with these boys. At times, I am sure, it will be tedious and your patience will be short -- especially when you think of all the tasks left undone at home.

Undoubtedly, it will also be exhausting dealing with each child's wandering mind and mischievous ideas. It is certainly not an undertaking for the faint-hearted. I am sure you will be firm but fun.

Fun. That is what my son is looking for this season. He is excited about winning, and I am sure that will be your goal. But his true ambition is to have fun playing this sport with his friends.

I look forward to seeing how your work with these boys will improve their skills. When they are afraid to bat, your encouragement will help them overcome. When they drop a flyball, your belief in them will make the difference next time.

I also look forward to watching these boys go from individual players to a team. Your direction will have a great impact on that process.

Cheering after a great hit or a superb catch will mean as much as consoling after a strikeout or error.

The memories you will be a part of with these boys this season will last a lifetime.

Victories: Yet, I suspect, the memories won't be about the number of wins and losses. No, the lasting memories will be about victories of a different kind.

There will be personal victories of first hits, stolen bases and reach-for-the-stars catches.

And team victories involving not giving up when the score is down and not showing off when the points are high.

As a coach, you are a mentor.

You are not merely a mentor to teach children how to succeed at the game of baseball.

You will be a mentor who will teach these young, impressionable minds the lessons of discipline and practice and the rewards that come from hard work.

They will learn from your lessons on how to handle success as well as failure with dignity and respect.

They will learn these lessons from you by how you act more than what you say. And they will carry these lessons with them throughout their life.

I wish your team a successful season.

But, win or lose, I thank you for your involvement in my son's life this baseball season. I know that he will never forget you.

From,

Every Little League Baseball Mom

gwhite@vindy.com




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