Protect Your Kids...

Monday, April 25, 2011

The measure of a man...

J9 shares her interpretation of "The measure of a man" on a great blog piece.

Wooden said that the measure of a man..."is the size of the things that get him upset." When I was coaching a kid a few years ago, he fell apart more often than the other kids - even though he succeeded more often. So to help him get over the hump, we also added, "...and how quickly he recovers from it!"

So now the phrase we recite is this:

The measure of a man is the size of the things that get him upset...and how quickly he recovers from it!

Then, one of my BALL coaches, Jen Solano (also a BALL storyteller) used the phrase's flavor as part of an inspiration for the basis of saying "don't disrespect the boy that ..." for the same application - when a kid falls apart for not succeeding. Here's how she introduced it to me:

I was very fortunate to have her coach my son, Mac, in baseball one summer. Jen is a former collegiate softball catcher and, as a result, has the "catcher's mentality" when she coaches:

1) Take charge,
2) Be decisive and confident,
and because baseball is a fluid sport,
3) Make instant decisions on-the-fly as the situation dictates.

She also has a fierce competitive spirit, but a genuine compassion for the kids. Sometimes it's a delicate balance. Jen, however, seems to intuitively know when and where to say the right things to the right kids.

Which brings me to my son.

Mac has always been a step behind the other boys his age in baseball because, in part, of the RSV virus that he caught as a baby. It affected his body so that the left side is weaker and reacts more slowly than the right side. This is evidenced by his running: whenever he runs, you can see the left side of his body react more slowly than the right side. So I taught him to hit left handed so his right hand could be his "power hand" on his swing. That gives him more power, but less chance of hitting the ball consistently because the left side now becomes the hand that refines the bat's barrel angle through the swing. So Mac's swing is truly "hit or miss".

Anyway, at one practice, he really hit the ball well and actually hit it over Coach Jen's head in right field. He held his head up high for the next 20 minutes until it was his turn to hit again. This time, it didn't turn out as well. He couldn't even hit a foul ball. He hung his head, kicked the dirt, and generally started into giving himself a "pity party".

Coach Jen's response?

From deep right field, he hears the following: "MAC BROWNE, you hold your head up high RIGHT NOW!!! Don't you DARE disrespect the player that hit that ball over my head!"

It was magic. In almost an instant, Mac's attitude changed. For the rest of the practice, he was noticeably more confident. And since that practice, my wife and I (as parents) remind Mac about never disrespecting the young man he has come to be. The young man he is meant to be. And I will never forget the moment when a wonderful teacher taught a son and his dad about keeping a positive attitude and the importance of getting back up whenever we fall down.

Friday, April 1, 2011

For the love of the game...

"It's my place. It's my sanctuary and battle field. Where getting a ball thrown at you is normal, and getting one hit at you is expected. Where people establish identity by a number instead of a name. Where home has nothing to do with where you live. Where people fully capable of speaking, rely solely on signals. Where tiny little seeds are considered a balanced meal and the last thing you'd do with a cup is drink form it. Where common language consists of whatda say and atta way with every sentence ending in babe. Where the opposite of safe is never dangerous. Where getting dirty is finally a good thing and a spank on the butt constitutes respect. Where an alphabet without the letter E would work just fine.

It's the only place where succeeding 3 times out of 10 can be considered good and 4 out of 10 great. Where 9 players can receive the ball in their glove, but only one is called a catcher. Where a series of 90 mph pitches and balls that travel over 400 ft is still considered a slow game. Where running away only to return in the same spot at which you started at is an honor. Where crazy routines are both followed and respected. Where rituals and superstitions have never been taken more seriously. Where time is not measured by minutes, but by opportunities. Where power and finesse finally reach equality. Where a suicide causes celebration and stealing is encouraged.

This is my place. Many dislike it and even more don't understand it, but none the less it is my place. I believe it was originally named the diamond due to its obvious shape; however it could have just as easily been called the crooked square. I do call it the diamond, but only because as promised it will last forever."