Greetings....I am sitting at the desk, listening to some oldies (John Mayer), reminiscing about the good old days.... John Mayer is singing..."I want to run through the halls of my high school...." Yikes, I would have gotten 5 demerits and a Saturday detention. No running for me...just a quick pace between classes. Although my good old days were pretty darn good, my thoughts roam to Buddy's freshman year in high school. Those were NOT the good old days and here is why....
Buddy is a bright person. He has the tools to succeed in most settings. However, the level of academic competition at this high school was intense. Although he wanted it, I don't think that he was prepared for the challenges that were ahead of him.
He struggled in the classroom and could not figure out the system. We had to take him for some academic assistance a few times until the advice that he was given clicked. The headmaster felt that he would be better off at another school, but Buddy would not hear of it. He was so determined to succeed that he put his head down and studied, studied and studied. Sadly, the initial grades did not reflect the amount of work that he put into it, but once he figured out a method of retaining the content, his grades sequentially moved from the basement to the first, second and third floors. He never made the penthouse, but he did have honors one semester (another cake and dinner celebration). In other words, he held his own and had a great deal to be proud of as he overcame yet another challenge.
Now Buddy knows the rules about academic eligibility. These are pretty important for the high school athlete. Stay ahead of the curve by being proactive. This is the only way to succeed.
In January, the baseball coach announced that he would start 6 am (not 6 pm...that would have been more humane) work outs twice a week for the prospects and players. Since Buddy had the goal of making the team, he wanted to attend the sessions. This meant that he would have to rise at 5 am and get a ride to his school 30 minutes away and be ready by 6. His dad (quite the trooper) got up twice a week and took him on the long drive to training. Buddy was a regular at these sessions. The coach would then cook eggs and the kids went to class. I never drove because I had to put Tink onto the bus.
In February, the team held try outs. Buddy and his dad (again) were nervous about his ability to make the JV. They sweated this one out....and lo and behold, Buddy (and ten others) made the varsity. This angered so many of the upper class men, that they decided to quit the team. So, here is Buddy, a shy, introverted guy on a varsity team that had a great deal of dissension. Eventually, some of the kids returned to play, but the negative tone had been set. One upper class man told Buddy that when he was on the mound he was not going to field any balls that were hit to him out of spite. This guy held true to this threat as I watched a number of weakly hit balls go by him that my 70 year old mother could have fielded. So the season begins....
Buddy did get into a few games. The first game that he pitched in was against a top team. Not knowing why he was the "sacrificial lamb" for this game, he was lit up (that means...lots of runs, walks, hit batters and a very high score). He was almost destroyed by this outing. As a freshman, he had a great deal of talent, but he did not have the mental toughness that comes with cumulative positive experiences. After that initial game, Buddy was installed in a few others as bullpen relief. He did extremely well as his confidence bloomed. By the end of the season, he was feeling pretty good about himself, although the team dynamics were toxic. The upperclassmen never eased up on the freshmen. Many parents were negative too. No one spoke to me as a parent. I was basically by myself at each game unless dad or Tink came. Even though Buddy did not play each game, I still went to support him and the team. I felt ostracized in a way as I sat or stood by myself. Overall, this was fine. There was gossip and trash talk about some team members and the coaches. I did not want to participate in this type of chatter. Let's keep conversation civil. No one is a professional athlete out there, and the goal was to have "fun"...right?
More later about the "fun" enjoyed with each season.