Growing up, I was always a football guy. I played other sports, including baseball, all throughout my youth, but I lived and breathed football. It was the one that I truly understood all over the field. When I was in high school, I wanted to become a coach. In fact, one of the reasons I became a teacher was that I wanted to coach high school football. Alas, I still have yet to teach a single day in a high school, and I've had no opportunities to coach athletics.
But when my boys started playing baseball, I started toying with the idea of coaching them. After my oldest passed through t-ball, I thought, "There's nothing to this t-ball thing. I'll coach the next time around." Two years later, my second son started t-ball and I volunteered to coach his team. I didn't really expect to go much farther than that in baseball coaching, though. My days as a player ended when I was 13, right after my 7th grade year. At that age, with the competition I'd faced and the coaching I'd received, I hadn't really learned much strategy to coaching or practice drills or anything that gave me enough confidence to go and teach others to compete.
My oldest son started his Little League years with two outstanding coaches in three years. These were guys who taught the game well, hyped the kids up, and gave them a great experience playing ball. I learned a bit about coaching Little League from them, but I still lacked the confidence to volunteer myself as a head coach. I wanted to help out and get involved, but as the assistant. I resolved to offer to help the moment a coach asked for an assistant, but no one ever needed help.
There was one major drawback to winning the championship, however. Both the Pinto and Pony Leagues had their final at the same time. So while I was coaching my oldest as he won his league, I missed my younger son winning his city championship. It was a good night at the ballpark for us. Two boys, two teams, two leagues, two champions.
I was told that my younger boy made a catch in right field and then gunned the runner out at home to end the top of the final inning and preserve a 4-4 tie. His team walked it off in the bottom half of the inning. Wish I had been there to see that!
I made these cards for each player on my team. I designed a uniform back with each player's stats. This is my own kid's stats. I know, just over the Mendoza line. Unfortunately for him, he hits like his old man. But at least he walks a lot! Next week we play our state tournament. At the conclusion of the tournament, I'm going to give each player their own card and a small lot of Texas Rangers with it. I'm also going to have the boys vote for a team MVP. The chosen MVP gets this:
I'm not sure who the players will choose. Luke, our ace pitcher? Kien, our versatile center fielder/3rd baseman/pitcher who seems to hit nothing but doubles (except for the game when he hit everything else and came up just a home run short of a cycle)? Jaxon, our shortstop with the most power on the team? If I were choosing, I would vote for Jordan. He made some outstanding plays at first, handling line drives and wild throws that saved several games for us. I don't know how much his peers recognized it, but his defense and leadership were difference-makers on the team.
In the past few months, I've made custom cards for my colleagues and work and my Little League team. I realize that probably nobody who has received a card from me cares as much as I do, but that doesn't bother me at all. I've had a blast making them.