Saturday, June 16, 2007

It's a Brand New Ballgame

I grew up playing softball. As a matter of fact, some of my fondest childhood memories are being at the ball park all day long. I played. My brother played. And my father played. We'd go to my dad's tournaments, and my brother and I would play pick-up games of cup ball all day behind the bleachers. I loved watching my brother play in college, long after I had quit playing the game seriously.

Now, I watch my children play. And let me tell you, the game is the same, but the festivities that surround the game have changed! My precious N has made All-Stars. I made All-Stars several times as a kid, and my brother made All-Stars many times. We were thrilled to get the opportunity to keep playing ball for another month. I really don't remember any frills that came with the extra games and practices. But now, All-Stars seems to be mostly frills with some ball games thrown in for good measure. I think the kids still enjoy just playing. We are in a league that keeps extra spending and frills to a minimum compared to other teams we have seen at the tournaments. This has been a learning experience for me, and N has thoroughly enjoyed playing.

As All-Stars each girl on our team was provided with a face mask, a new bat bag personalized with her name, shin guards, a cute color-coordinated hair bow to wear to games, a T-shirt to wear while at the ball park but not playing, a set of temporary tattoos sporting the team name to wear to games, and a new water bottle. They also received beautiful, glossy new uniforms. The girls look fantastic!

We've been amazed to see other teams with matching color-coordinated helmets, bat bags on wheels, and entire matching outfits (shirt, shorts and flip flops) to wear while at the ball park but not playing. The matching outfits are cute and certainly stand out and mark the girls as a team. But I can't help it, all I can see is more laundry to be done after the game! Most parents and siblings also have T-shirts to match that boast the team's name and colors. I was amused watching one young team walk in a single file line from the batting cages to their field. The girls looked wonderful and were all marching with matching fancily decorated pony tails bobbing as they stuggled to pull rolling bat bags that were bigger than most of the girls. It was quite a sight to behold! One team we played ran the girls around the field, boot-camp style behind the coach, with the girls echoing motivational phrases led by the coach. Another team we played had a ritual for each inning. As the girls took their positions in the field the parents in the stands yelled a little chant and the girls responded with a quick cheer and a glove slapping, cleat stomping rhythm. Another team met at the pitcher's circle each inning and did a stomping routine before they took the field.

All-Stars has been a great experience. N has learned a lot about strategy and fundamentals of the game. She's enjoyed the hype and all of the attention the team has gotten and the atmosphere of the tournaments. It's been a lot of fun, and it will be an experience she will remember always. But what she has enjoyed the most is the game and the girls she's had the opportunity to play with. I believe that what still matters the most to the girls is the support of the parents, the opportunity to learn more about the game from knowledgeable coaches, and the chance to play the game! Under all the hype, the brand new ballgame is still the good old game we played as kids.


Joan said...

The game and the activity -- the friendships -- the family support -- these are what matter most to the kids usually.

Susan said...

I'm out surfing the SS blogroll today and happened by here. I love your blog. It's so neat that the game has been so special to your family. I spend most of my time at Soccer fields. It's so important to expose them to some organized sport, in my opinion.

Have a great day!! I hope to come back by again sometime.

:-) Susan