That’s Game

National Softball Tournament – Days 2, 3 and 4

Originally, I had thought I would detail each day of this last tournament of Kacey’s softball career. And while I could describe each game the team played; the wins, the losses, the highs and the lows… now that it’s all over and done, I don’t think those are the things that will stick in my memory in the years to come. Suffice it to say we had every bit as much fun in Omaha as I had hoped, the girls and parents alike. There were some losses and there were some wins. We watched some of the very best softball our girls have ever played. All those years of practices and games, all those years of learning to anticipate one another’s next move came together and the girls played in a way they’re never going to forget. I am so very, very proud of them.

Years from now, there are things I’ll remember more than the individual wins and losses. I’ll still hear the way the girls cheered each other on… “Come on, kid! Wait for your pitch! You can do it!” I’ll hear the nicknames they call each other, Al-Ro, Jae-Fae, Hae-Rae, Sheebs, Svetlana, Meg-Babe, Abbers, Hannah B, Ja-Mol, Dee-Pur and Kacey… I’ll remember all of her nicknames. They called her Sticks, or Moo, or Eleven or most recently, Angel. But mostly I’ll remember the name they called her most, KaceyMeece! Just like that, they’d say it, KaceyMeece, with such emphasis on the last part and such affection in their voices.

I’ll hear Kacey calling from behind the plate for the throw to come home, “Cut four! Cut four!” I’ll remember the clang of the bat as they hit the ball. I’ll remember the slap of a glove as the ball landed smack in the pocket. I’ll remember the way the coaches communicated the signs to their players and the way they believed in these girls, saw their talents sometimes long before the girls found those very talents within themselves. I’ll remember blazing sun and the dust from the ballfield swirling in the air and I’ll remember huddling under an umbrella when a game went on in spite of the rain.

In my mind, when I think of the days when Kacey played this sport she loved so much, I’ll remember her face, with a look of determination or excitement or simple happiness at being in a place she just loved to be.

In the years to come, when I think back on these days, I’ll think back to a group of girls who became more than team mates. I’ll remember girls who became best friends and who loved one another like sisters, sometimes even getting under each other’s skin like sisters. I’ll remember the weekly team sleep-overs that continued even until they were long past the age of sleep-overs.

My daughter has such an easy-going manner and a talent for putting people at ease. I can’t help but give some of the credit to her involvement in softball. She had to learn to be a team player. She had to learn to accept differences in others and she learned to be a positive and effective leader. Softball helped Kacey learn how to get along with others.

My dad recently remarked to my sister, “I know you kids think that all these sports your kids play are really important, but they’re really not.”

Growing up, I wasn’t given the opportunity to play organized sports and I know my dad simply has no idea how valuable they can be in a child’s life. But I do. I know that softball was very important in my daughter’s life. I know there are times I was less than enthusiastic about getting up at the crack of dawn to get my kid to an early game, or about sitting through games in the cold, the heat or the rain. But now it’s all over, too soon, as I’m finding too many things are in my life these days. And I will never be sorry that so much of our time was dedicated to organized sports. They’ve taught all of us valuable lessons and given my kids so many skills that will help carry them through life.

In the end, I was able to be there with my girl, to watch her do something she loves, right to the very end. And when that final loss knocked them out of their very last tournament as a team, the girls weren’t the only ones with tears in their eyes. I was glad for the sunglasses I had on.

I’m sure Kacey will play softball again. There are intramural teams at college and adult leagues in many communities. I won’t be surprised if she finds a way to play the game again in the years to come or even coach a team of her own someday. But in my mind’s eye, I will always see her as she was this summer, smiling, laughing, cheering and playing ball with this very special team.

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18 thoughts on “That’s Game

  1. I didn’t have sun glasses on so early this morning, I wish I did. Team sports have influenced our girls collectively and individually. They have learned so many lessons, they might not even know yet, but as they continue to grow, some day, at some moment, they’ll stop and smile too, all those wonderful unforgetable times playing ball with their best friends and soulmatesl. Done good MAMA MEECE!!!

  2. Your Dad is so wrong and you are so right. I have been involved with organized sports since I was a kid. I played football, ran track, played rugby. Then I coached girls soccer for 20 years. The lessons you learn by being on a team, overcoming hardships, sticking with it, practicing even though you don’t see the results right away. It is a reason why I have the perseverance I have as an adult.

    And the experience that Kacey and her teammates had – they were not the best but they worked hard and made themselves better than anyone might have thought they ever good culminating in that great last tournament.

    You are the one that’s right!

  3. I’m with you, not your dad, on this one. Organized team sports — for boys AND girls — teach our kids things about themselves and others that they couldn’t learn any other way. Things like persistence, determination, working together, camaraderie, self-discipline, and self-confidence. My son played on the tennis and golf teams in high school and while he misses the team interaction now that he’s in college, he still finds time to play and someone to play with. Sorry your girls didn’t win, but I know they’re still winners!

  4. What an amazing story, Terry… so well written… You and Kacey will be able to look back on this blog years from now and smile at all the memories. I can’t tell you how meaningful your stories about your daughter have been to me. My only daughter is 12, and because of your stories, I am learning to cherish each and every thing about her. I’m going through a time right now when I feel like the world is passing me by, but I definitely have been making time to spend with her – and I thank you for that. You should be so proud of how well you have raised her. Once again… awesome story!

  5. Well. I think I may agree with your Dad, at least in some ways. We made a BFD of our son’s soccer and of our daughter’s dance team … and were very involved, like you are … and I said all the things you said. But looking back, it was fun but not that important in our parade of memories and I don’t see that it’s impacted our kids lives that much either. Still, they were some of the best times we had with our kids when they were Kacey’s age and I wouldn’t give them up for anything. Maybe it will be different for you and your kids. Enjoy every moment.

  6. I really enjoyed this post on several levels -one, being how as I read this and you descriptions of the team, coaches, the wording about the games (brief but concise), and I thought gee, I betcha if Terri wanted to try writing baseball articles, she could shine doing that! Your word choices on those aspects of Kacey’s team and playing evoked mental images in which I could see, hear and feel the overall experience. And, as almost everyone else here has said, I agree with you about the importance of participation in team sports whenever, wherever possible.

  7. Too bad your father did not understand the benefits of playing sports, way beyond the exercise part of playing. You are a wise mom though. Great photos and a wonderful post. You wrote this post with your heart.

  8. Oh yeah, team sports are very important in youth development. That’s a no-brainer. Good for Kacey for taking part and sticking it out.

  9. And don’t forget the sincere support from Mom and Dad! I’m sure that definitely played a role in the shaping of memories and experiences for KaceyMeece! With all due respect, I have to disagree with your dad.

  10. “In my mind, when I think of the days when Kacey played this sport she loved so much, I’ll remember her face, with a look of determination or excitement or simple happiness at being in a place she just loved to be.”

    Aw! Terri! And what a FABULOUS memory to always hold on to!

  11. Playing sports growing up definitely has ups and downs and is emotional, but I loved it and it taught me a lot. It’s hard to say exactly what I learned, but I think part of what I learned is that I had to care for myself as an individual AND as a team…not just one or the other. I used to want to be a coach. Maybe someday I will when we have kids.

  12. 1.) I think I understand where your Dad was coming from. Some parents take it to such an extreme. We know plenty of people who put so much of an emphasis on their children’s sports activities that it becomes their reason for living. I have friends who have gone through periods when they were vicariously living their life through their child’s football (or soccer, or swimming, or gymnastics, etc) activities. (I”m only exaggerating a little.) Also, when it becomes over done, it sends messages to the child that…

    a.) Sports is the most important thing in their life, above academics, family life, other interests, etc.
    b.) They, at the ripe old age of 8, 9 or 10, really are the center of the universe.
    c.) Their self-worth is based on their athletic success (or lack thereof.)

    Everything in moderation.

    2. ) It does not appear that you and Mark look at things that way. I think that ten years ago, you’ll look back and say, “Hey, you remember that summer after Kayce graduated from high school…”

  13. I never played on an organized sports team growing up. I was always way too shy to do so (and uncoordinated to boot). When I read these posts of yours, I feel like I missed out on something very special. Thank you for allowing me to experience it through the eyes of you and your daughter.

  14. Pingback: Friday Favorites 8/26/2011 « Older Eyes

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