Wednesday, February 9, 2011

HIgh School Highs and Lows

Good Morning. The ice is slowly dissipating from the driveway and it is not as slick. I did fall last week, but not on the icy driveway. I slid on the steps inside the snow...just me being very clumsy. Fortunately I landed on the fleshiest part of my body. With all of the padding, I bounced back up.

Anyway, back to our favorite topic.....Baseball Buddy. It is now sophomore year and the coach has been "replaced" by a coach who had "left" another high school. This is a real sports rotation....With any high school program, there are politics. There are "inside" deals and favoritism. Generally, the best players are the starters. However, this may not always the case. If a player is not in good graces with the coach (es), then he or she will sit on the bench. It does not matter how good the player is. The coach makes the calls.

The new coach was announced during the fall and he had a brief gathering to meet the players. After the meeting, Buddy went to speak to the coach on his own and introduce himself. He shared his impression of the coach with us, which had been favorable. With that said....let's move forward three years to Buddy's last home game as a senior. The coach always prepares a short speech about the graduating player. When it was Buddy's turn, the coach shared with the team and families his impression of meeting Buddy for the first time. This is a paraphrase....."when I met Buddy, he stopped me after a meeting. I wanted desperately to go home, but this kid stood in front of me and says that he is a good player and is going to play Division I baseball..." After the families and players chuckled, the coach continued..."I turned to the assistant coach and said...'who is this psycho?' From that point on, we called him psycho behind his back." The audience again laughed and I stood dumbfounded. Did I hear him correctly?  Did he just call my hard working, driven boy a 'psycho'? Is he calling a kid who made All Conference and All State and broke a number of pitching records a psycho? Is he calling my son a psycho???? Is he kidding? Someone had better hold me back....'cause I was hot!
Blog space and good manners will not allow me to continue my train of thought on the 'psycho business' but believe me, if looks could maim, the coach would be using a walker today.

So, I am going to reflect on the term psycho in sports. I feel that I had enough experience as a former D-1 athlete to comment on this, so here it order to move to the top of any sport, a person must display a passion for training and their goals. Further, a person may be born with athleticism, but it is up to the individual's commitment and hard work to make it to the top of their sport. There are sacrifices that must be made such as missing parties, gatherings, events, and sleep. An athlete must practice and train and tinker with their mechanics. To achieve their goal, they eat and sleep the sport and do not deviate from their ultimate goal. In Buddy's case, it was D-1 baseball. The neighbors would comment on Buddy as he threw buckets of balls against a screen on the driveway. He would swing at balls on a tee. He took extra batting practice and went to the batting cages. After dinner, he would pitch to his dad in the backyard. Buddy would also be the first person on the field before practice or a game either running, stretching, or swinging the bat. The coaches often arrived on the field after he did. So, is this a psycho or someone who is working hard to achieve a goal? Is this someone that you want on your team? Is he a leader or psycho?

Sorry to have deviated from the rest of sophomore year, but this senior year comment reflected the type of relationship that Buddy had with the coach for the three years. When Buddy finally got into games to pitch, he was on a very short "leash". If he loaded the bases or walked a few players, the coach would scream...'get him the @#$$% out of there'...and he would be pulled out of the game by the pitching coach. Interestingly, he never allowed Buddy to pitch out of troubles. From a confidence perspective, Buddy would dread making any kind of mistake, because he knew that he would be taken out and then humiliated. His confidence was at an all time low. This reflected in his personality at home. When he had a good practice or game, he was happy. When they lost or he had a bad outing, he was miserable. Gradually (this took a lot of time), he re-gained his confidence when he played on tournament and legion teams with different coaches who believed in his skills. The value of a good, intuitive coach is not to be minimized. It can make the difference between a high level of performance or wanting to quit the sport and take up knitting or crochet.

With that said, I have to go to work...enjoy the day....

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