There are some things in life you don’t necessarily think you’ll ever say.
Such as, “I can’t hang out on Wednesday night. I’m coaching men’s softball.”
A few months ago, my buddy Rod asked me about getting some women together to be part of a coed softball team at work. It didn’t pan out. He was already part of an all-men’s team, and the league was about to start, so I told him I was going to coach the team since the coed thing didn’t happen and since I am not eligible to play in the men’s league.
Thus, I became a self-appointed coach of Men’s Division E softball.
I’m not sure if the guys thought I was serious at first, but they started calling me “Coach,” let me call the coin tosses and trusted me at third base, so it was no joke. After all, third base is an important place to be (and a dangerous one, I might add).
Throughout the season, I learned some important things about coaching men’s softball that can transfer over well into other areas of life.
Silence is the opposite of golden. In softball, especially while coaching, you have to be loud. If the fellas can’t hear you telling them to go home or to stay, you’re doing something wrong, and it’s not helping them at all. I think sometimes we’re too silent with things when people really need to hear what we have to say. Keeping quiet is not always the way to go. I used to think it was, but I’ve realized that life is too short not to say the things we really need to say.
You have to commit. My Wednesday nights were booked for the season. There were some weeks when I was really tired and wanted to go straight home after work. Then there were those games that didn’t even start until 9 p.m. That’s rough stuff. But when you’re part of a team, you show up. Those guys showed up to play week after week, and I know it wasn’t just for the juice pouches and snacks I brought for them for after the games. Sometimes we face moments when we simply want to give up and take the easy way, but that’s not always the right way to go. If you’re not all in, you might not enjoy some of the greatest things life throws your way—you know, like watching a group of adult men try to relive their sports glory days.
Taking a chance might be worth it. There are moments in the game when you’re not quite sure if someone has the speed to make it home or even to third. It often seems like the better option is to play it safe, but playing it safe doesn’t put runs on the board. You know what does? Challenging yourself and running all out until you get to home plate. I definitely saw some hardcore hightailing it from some of my homeboys in times when I don’t even know if they thought they would make it. But they had to take the chance in some instances if we wanted to win the game. You can’t always sit where you are to get what you want. You can analyze and try to weigh the risk versus the reward until your head hurts, or you can take off running and slide head first if you have to—because it might be worth it in the end.
Make friends with the umpires. I love the umpires. Not only are they really funny, but they also care about people. That’s why they’re out there and have been doing it for so long—I talked to one ump who was in his 22nd year and another in his 19th. And they have stories like all of us do. When we come across the various people we encounter on a daily basis, we don’t always know what’s going on with them. They could be dealing with more than we could even imagine or perhaps having a bad day. Or maybe they are people who simply need love in order to learn to love others. Regardless, they deserve to be reminded that they matter, and they deserve forgiveness—even if they make some questionable calls every now and then.
Our team won the city championship (yes, the Steve Kerr comparisons have been pouring in), but I would have chalked it up as a successful season with or without that trophy. I had more fun than I’ve had in a while coaching those boys on Wednesday nights, and it was enjoyable to get to know some of them better outside of the office. I’m also really glad they actually let me stick around and be a real coach, even if some of the other teams thought it was not normal. (Cue a conversation in one opposing team’s dugout. Little kid: “Daddy, why is there a girl out there?” Guy: “Well, son, I think she’s trying to coach.”) Sometimes doing what others think is silly is necessary.
Because, as Seal once so eloquently put it, “We’re never going to survive unless we get a little crazy.”