Listing at the beginning -Purpose of the piece? My daughter? all kids? Is it about the routines.
The anticipation. The preparation for the upcoming weekend. The hotel reservations, google maps, coolers packed- fruit, protein, sweets. The 2 jerseys- 1 purple, 1 white, washed and folded neatly. # belts rest next to them- white, purple and black along with socks in the same colors all topped off with matching bows. It is a tournament weekend.
Softball is a way of lift for many girls and their families. Sometimes the grind starts on Wednesday and ends on Sunday- you never know. Sundays are the championships, albeit exhausting, Sunday departures are the goal. 5 to 7 weekends in our short beautiful Michigan summers. Outside eyes would question the time. Many certainly have an opinion about the cost, but this is an opportunity for girls to make memories. The growing of a girl.
Time spent in a city far away against a team you might or might not know can lead to many layers of emotions. Right away we want to qualify “ This is a good team. This is a bad team.” However we make it, we begin to justify our win or our loss.
The games: every inning, every batter is a challenge. So many moving parts. The pitch is thrown, 9 girls await the contact or no contact. And the ball? Outfield? Runners on? The moving parts are endless and endless possibilities make each action part of an interminable flow chart with no “result” in sight.
Emotions are there at each game. They all work as a part of the uniform and if not cleaned and pressed properly, they can become_______________. The exuberance of a hard hit that starts a rally, cheering heard in the dugout and in the stands as the girl rounds third and heads home. The collective sigh as as the third strike thunks into the catcher’s mit. The score can determine the mood. Tey can go from “ We got this” to downcast eyes and dirt shuffling toes, shoulders slumped.
A game is played in 7 innings. 7 chances to out earn the other team. Whichever team is ahead in the end gets the “Dub” (teenspeak for W or Win.) The critical part here is that there IS 7 innings. After a very productive offensive showing, girls on top of the world- high fives and a little pep in their step as they un to their positions. The next inning, too few runs, too many errors feels like the momentum is slowing, the skills are tempered and possibility of a “dub” is slipping away.
Even keel- a nautical term meaning balanced on the waterline also means to have a calm even disposition. This is rarely seen at a softball game.
Competitive sports are not for everyone. To understand that we can not all grow Olympic Athletes, but we can five our daughters many opportunities to have adversity and then come back from it- those mistakes and hard times make us all stronger. One dropped ball, strike out juxtaposed with one home run or one diving catch.
Most of the game, though is not the extremes. It is the consistent everyday routines of catching and throwing. Making contact and running to first base. This is what we learn from softball, it is not the extremes it is the routines that move us forward. If my daughter can learn to get through the ups and downs, celebrate those “big plays, “ I know in the end she will have great memories and enjoy the ride.