Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Last Season's End Forever in Sight

"Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game."
--A., softball player

Two years ago, my younger daughter, Antonia, came home from school and said, “I want to play softball.”

We aren’t a family of athletes. We dance, sing, read, write, and make art.  I was at a loss.

I said, “OK. Let me check into it.”

She said, “Izzy said it starts tomorrow.”

Her friend Izzy was the inspiration for her desire to play.  And I thank her for it, to this day.

There are many reasons kids benefit from playing team sports—exercise, goal setting, working with a group.  For adolescents, team sports can lead to success later in life:

"A study conducted by the Women's Sports Foundation found that adolescents that were regularly involved in teen sports were less likely to engage in sexual activity until later in life than those who were not in team sports. Also, teens on sport teams were found to be less likely to use drugs than their non-playing counterparts, and were less likely to be involved in abusive relationships. In addition, the students involved in sports had a higher chance of graduating high school and college."

The Rockies and the Orioles, before the G.Y.A.A. Title Game.
Scientific benefits aside, my girls love it!  And I do, too, for there are many “parenting moments” that arise during softball season--opportunities to celebrate their wins, support them in their losses, and point out progress they’ve made after every game.  Also, softball has a way of making great memories.

Last year both Sophia's and Antonia's teams made it to the G.Y.A.A. finals.  Both girls had their first of many experiences grabbing the ball from the air and getting an “out.” And, Antonia had her first of many hits made during game-play.  
Sophia could consistently hit during practice but failed to make contact with the ball during any of her games. . . . Until the last play of her final game, the one for the G.Y.A.A. Title:

Bottom of the last inning.  Score tied, 2-2.  Two outs.  Sophia was up at bat.
I was scared for her and upset for her knowing that she so desperately wanted to make contact with the ball during a game just once.  How could it come down to this--her final up at her final game was her final chance? And winning the conference final depended upon her successful hit?
Her coach shouted from first base, “You can do it, Sophia! Stay low. Keep your eye on the ball. You can do it!”
He clapped his hands with encouragement, I stood up, and my stomach jumped to my throat.  Pitch, swing, and CRACK.  She made contact, the ball went sailing between first and second, Sophia took off running, and the second baseman jumped to her left, threw up her arm…OUT!

At the most crucial moment of the title game, she made contact with the ball, and yet, her team lost.  If that isn’t a lesson in the paradox of life, I don’t know what is.

Antonia's season was also a success.  In addition to accomplishing her athletic goals, I watched her come out of her shell.  A girl once slow to say, “Hello,” to anyone outside of her family or close-knit group of friends now has no problem lifting her hand to wave, and saying, “Hello,” as she enters a room full of new people.  
Softball sign-ups are today.  Like last year, I am certain I will be astonished as I watch Sophia and Antonia grow physically, mentally, and emotionally stronger.  And I am certain to be grateful for memories captured—a testament to their journey.

Linking up with Galit and Alison for April's Memories Captured


  1. I grew up playing fast pitch and continued on well into my 20's. It is SUCH a great sport. Glad your family is enjoying it so much.

  2. I loved how you referenced the study regarding girls in sports! Title IX and females in athletics is something I hold dear, and whenever I see another girl playing softball or some other sport, it makes my heart happy. (No disrespect to the arts!)
    What a lovely post, and good luck to both girls this season!

  3. I remember my days of soft ball back in the day. My daughter is into dance and girly stuff I hope one day she will utter the words "Mom I want to play soft ball!"

  4. I'm not a big sports person myself, but my daughter said she wanted to join Track last year and she did! I was so proud of her. I think she might have joined just to get the cool track sweatpants with her name on them, but she ended up really enjoying it! Now, I love being a track mom in the stands!

  5. That's wonderful for your girls, Kimberly!!

    Thank you for linking up with Memories Captured.

  6. I wasn't really a sports person either until I started to actually pay attention and not write it off as "dumb jock stuff" still can be, but for the most part I've gleaned such strong commraderie, spirit and athleticism that sometimes brings tears to my eyes, even with the young ones. It's really something! GO TEAM!

  7. Super awesomesauce. Women in sports, particularly ones that were traditionally not considered feminine, are plain and simple great. Love the photos, the last one is brilliant!!

  8. I love this (so very much).

    (We're also not a sports family and trying very hard to maneuver how it works.)

    But wowsa, do we ever see the benefits!

    (Your lens is lovely.)

  9. Softball sounds like it has really helped your girls bloom.

  10. So great and well said. Playing sports when I was growing up was huge for me. I wasn't the best or the fastest but it taught me a lot about myself and about relationships and friends. So great that your girls have this opportunity. Love the photo.

  11. Such a lovely post ... and reminds me how awful we are at encouraging our girls in sports since we are not any good at them )
    clearly not American ;)

    This is the link to my Captured Memory btw since otherwise you end up on the landing page and its over on the homeschooling side ;)

  12. Wonderful post and that last picture - WOW. Absolutely love that!

  13. This is such a great reminder that putting our kids in sports isn't just about giving us more errands to run! Sports definitely help our children step our of their comfort zones and grow.

  14. I love sports. I missed that when I was growing up, and I really think it's important.
    I absolutely love that picture!

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