Archived Story

One coach can ruin sports experience

Published 11:46am Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I remember during one summer when I was younger, I was getting sun baked while stretching and loosening up for Little League baseball practice.

I was surrounded by my brother and about 15 other kids or so, and we’d go through our pre-practice routine for what seemed like hours.

In fact, that’s all we did for an hour and a half.

Granted, this was my first experience with Little League baseball so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when it came to sports, I wanted the ball.

I didn’t need to dominate the ball or anything like that. I knew I wouldn’t be a star player, but a couple catches here or a couple jumpers there would more than satisfy me.

Baseball was different, though. If we were going by genetics here, that sport probably would have been my calling had I chosen to take it seriously.

My dad grew up playing it, and from what my mom said, he was pretty good at it.

But since those kids and I were over there stretching while the coach’s son got to actually put the bat on the ball, I found that this was not something of which I wanted to be a part.

Don’t get me wrong – the coach’s kid was good. He was a southpaw that hit his growth spurt early, ran like a gazelle and could put it over the fence.

In addition, the coach actually put some time into honing his son’s game.

But since I didn’t get any of that tutelage, that first practice ended up being my last one.

Suffice it to say, that coach, whether intentionally or not, ruined Little League for me.

It’s something I wouldn’t wish on a kid if they went out in hopes of landing on a team.

And after having a chat with Alexander City Parks and Recreation director Sonny Wilson, I don’t think that’s going to happen with this year’s approaching Little League season.

He told me that he had challenged the coaches around here to be the best coaches that the youths of this city would ever have.

I’ve been to Doc Jordan Field. I’ve seen the plaques of the championship-winning teams, and I’ve seen the kids hitting and fielding off one another during practices.

So, based on my observations, the young kids around here who are ready to step up to the plate this year are in very good hands.

I think most people understand the value of a good coach to a raw athlete that needs some fine-tuning and direction. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that a kid gets to actually enjoy the sport he’s playing.

If you ask me, it appears that the coaches around here are going to get it right.

Yeah, I probably should have stuck around longer to see how my Little League experience would have worked out, but I was a kid who did things impulsively.

And besides, if you’ve read my writing, you’d know that I had the most fun competing against my big brother in our backyard.

Anyway, there’s a saying that you only get one chance to make a first impression.

Little League made a bad impression on me growing up.

But I think the kids around here just may avoid a similar fate.

Bailey is sports editor for The Outlook.