Kids running around haphazardly swinging hard, metal bats, dirty white pants, and over-zealous parents. That?s right, folks, grab your sunglasses, cameras and cold water bottles ? it?s time for t-ball.
Well, perhaps it?s more accurate to say it?s time for me to watch t-ball ? a lot of t-ball. This summer, my four-year-old nephew, Camden, is playing on his first-ever t-ball team with the Denmark Ball Association, which means I am either going to get a really great tan by the end of June or major lower back problems from bleacher seating.
Now, call me what you will- the world?s worst aunt, Debbie Downer, or Ms. Has No Faith, but in the days leading up to the team?s first game, I had somewhat low expectations for Camden?s first attempt at an organized sporting event. And while I know t-ball is just a way to expose kids to the greater organizations of baseball and softball, my reasons for expecting bedlam on Saturday were, I feel, legit.
First of all, Camden was assigned to the pink team, which for a boy as rough-and-tumble as him was like being sorted into Hufflepuff when you were pinning all your hopes and dreams on being in Gryffindor. And while I support the whole ?guys who are really tough are tough enough to wear pink? thing, it didn?t help that when he was originally assigned to the program, Camden was listed as the only boy on the pink team.
Don?t get me wrong, though. Camden has lots of gal pals at preschool and Sunday school who he gets along great with. However, when you are a boy who likes tractors, mud, wrestling and pretending to be a cowboy, it?s nice to have like-minded people around when you are goofing off in the dugout.
And while the random choice of team was a rather unfortunate circumstance, what?s worse is that we discovered t-ball teams don?t hold practices. That means that there are literally eight teams loaded with four-to eight-year-olds, many of whom have never played a lick of t-ball in their life, trying to get through an hour-long game in one piece.
As a Sunday school teacher for three-year-olds and lower elementary students, let me tell you that the thought of having to coach a team of 11 youngsters with the attention span of about two minutes would make me want to pull my hair out and start a whole mess of bad habits. But, I have to say, this particular aspect of t-ball was where I actually started to have some hope for the rest of the season.
Once all his teammates arrived and pictures were taken, Camden?s t-ball coaches took over and they were like a sight for sore eyes. These two men, God bless them, must have the patience of Job. No matter who tried to run to first base before getting a hit, asked the same question six times or was constantly waving to their mom in the stands instead of watching the ball, these guys were positive, encouraging and just plain fun. They even came up with goofy phrases to explain the different stances for hitting and catching, which the kiddos actually remembered.
I should also mention that the coaches must have been good luck charms, too, because a last-minute registration put one other boy on Camden?s team. Also, when it came time for Camden?s first attempt at the bat, he stepped into his swing and got a hit. Needless to say, a skeptical Aunt Bryce turned into an ecstatically cheering Aunt Bryce pretty quickly.
In the end, I guess my first taste of t-ball wasn?t as bad as I thought it would be. Even when Camden randomly darted from third base, back across the field to first instead of running home on his first go round, his parents, my mom and I just had to laugh to ourselves. No one is ever perfect when trying something new for the first time, right?
So, if you?re bored and want to watch some really cute kids try their hand at being softball players, stop by the Denmark ball diamonds late Tuesday and Friday afternoons. We will leave some room on the bleachers for you.