Sunday, September 1, 2002
Coach respondsto mother's letter
I would like to respond to Rose McClune's letter concerning the Canfield Baseball Club.
The coaches do try to emphasize having fun and improving the skill level of the players. However, by age 12, it is also about competing and striving to win. As in life, individuals must learn to deal with adversity. They can't just have things given to them to make them feel good.
If a little leaguer wants to play more, he must strive to improve his skills on his own and with a parent. You can't depend on coaches to give individual instructions when they have to coach a team.
When my own son was 12, we would hit nerf balls in the basement all winter. In the spring, we would play catch every day. If the fields were dry, we would practice hitting and fielding for two hours on weekends.
As far as coaches, the club is always looking for volunteers. Coaching involves a lot of hard work, time and responsibility. Each coach does his best to get players in a game. However, each is human. I wonder if Mrs. McClune approached a coach to see what her son could do to improve or if she or her spouse offered to become involved in assisting at practices.
If Mrs. McClune and her son have done all these things, maybe it is time to move to a different sport. As her son is going to be in Pony League next year, he is no longer guaranteed playing time.
While all baseball clubs want the players to learn and have fun, after a certain age it is also about competing to win. Life's lessons come in many shapes and sizes.
Memories of the game
The 1967 "Ice Bowl" between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys was the first football game I watched on television. I was 8 years old. Thirty-four years later I sat and watched "Remember the Titans" with my 8-year-old son. He was as excited watching the movie as I was watching the "Ice Bowl". The torch has passed. My purpose in writing is to rekindle fond memories of days gone by for those who have played the game.
The other day I was cleaning my computer screen at the office. As soon as I got a whiff of the new spray cleaner, it reminded me instantly of the smell from the pre-tape ankle spray my high school team used back in the 1970s. Isn't it amazing how a simple smell can bring back a memory about something?
I stopped at the drug store a few days later and while waiting for a prescription, I saw a small assortment of mouth guards on the shelf. They looked much more complex than the basic clear guards I had used. I was curious and looked on the back to see if you still had to boil them to get them to fit. It's nice to know some things haven't changed. I always looked forward to the "boiling day" because I knew full contact practice was coming up next.
Rather than spending time on each area, I thought I would share some brief comments on the sights, sounds and emotions we have all shared. Dew on the grass of early morning practices, smells of grass and dirt, whistles, coaches yelling and teaching, smelly practice net jerseys, two and three a day practices, sprints, up-downs, monkey rolls, "the sled", grunts, freshman tackling dummies, crackling of equipment, bruises and welts, the salty taste of sweat and blood, uniform handout day, towel fights and more welts, exhaustion, strength, intimidation, full throttle hits, pleasing your coaches, euphoria, penalties and yellow flags, not pleasing your coaches, let downs and extra laps, great friendships, timing, long/short bus rides, "the Balm" pain cream, jock straps and "the Balm", long scrimmages, cleat sounds on concrete and asphalt, salt tablets and water hoses, burnouts in the parking lot after practice, headaches with Mr. Mistys, wearing game jerseys at the Canfield Fair and Fridays on campus, eating a lot and feeling good about it, cheerleaders, crowds, pep rallies and skits, homecomings and bonfires, the smell of fall and leaves, cool/crisp air, walking behind the band to the field, school fight songs, running through "the hoop", crackling voice over the P/A system, half-time strategy, fourth quarter with zero time on the clock, wins and losses, Saturday films, turning in equipment, banquets and awards, celebration.
Another football season is upon us. For those of us who were fortunate enough to play football in high school or college or both, we are one more season removed from those "glory days". Each of us has unique memories of coaches, players, opponents, plays and games. We learned lessons that have been with us throughout our lives and careers. We share a common bond that only those who played the game can know.
I thank God for giving us the opportunity to experience sport and play. We need it throughout our lives. Although the body is not what it used to be, I still can enjoy watching and being a part of the football tradition each fall.