While walking around at a softball tournament this weekend, I paid close attention to the sights and sounds around me. I heard teams chanting and watched children doing cartwheels in the grass, as carefree as ever. I saw the players on the fields. The sun's rays beat down. The 95 degree heat made the players sweat. As I walked past home plate, I waved away the cloud of dust made by a player sliding into home plate. I heard the bellowing yell of the umpire making the call. One of the most spectacular sounds is the outburst of cheers from the fans when a great play is made. This sound brings back so many precious memories for me.
Softball was a huge part of our lives for about 10 years while we were raising our daughters. Spending time at the ballfields consumed many of our weekends. There were frantic days of rushing around, getting all the chores done, ordering the groceries, and making sure that the laundry was done before leaving for a tournament. That time has passed for me. At the time, it was often hectic and busy, but I would not have changed it.
Today I watched my daughter and husband coach women’s softball together. I am joyfully spending the day here, and I am reminiscing about how precious this time has been for us. There is nothing better than watching a group of young ladies learning to love the game, making friends, staying fit and healthy, and being outdoors in the sunshine. It is incredible to watch them experience the glory of winning and the agony of defeat with their teammates, and then watching them learn how to recover from the tough losses. I was able to watch the girls build their character on those fields.
Listening to the girls chanting in the dugout reminds me of my daughters forming connections with their teammates and building lifelong friendships. As a parent from the sidelines, it’s easy to get wrapped up in a bad call or a disagreement with a coaching decision. But, is that really the most important aspect of the experience? Or, should you be paying attention to your child growing and learning on and off the field? As I reflect, it is much more than just a game.
Today I am filled with joy and pride. My daughters have many great memories from their sports experiences. My husband and I were able to make so many great friends with the other parents. We still get together even though our daughters are married and have their own lives. That’s really what it’s about - long lasting memories and forever friendships. What I have learned: Team sports do much more than teach the sport. They can create friendships that last a lifetime. They can teach your child many valuable skills and lessons. These times should be treasured because they will never be recreated. Enjoy them while they last.