Tag Archives: character

We Weren’t Done Yet!

Isn’t there another chance to learn that play? A chance to show the new skill being mastered? When can we cover this again? Why does it always have to end?

Those who are closest to me in the baseball circles that I tread upon, they know how the last day of the season means to me. How much it affects me. And they probably know how much I have written on the subject over the years.

But this year was different. Aren’t they all.

When my Dad died on April 14th this year, it was baseball season. When I couldn’t bring myself around the team or the game for 3 weeks afterward, our coaches and parents picked up my slack. And when I did return, the game was there, like it always is, to rescue me and lift me slowly to my feet.

Then when the playoffs ended, we started the all-star season. Our first team practice was on June 27th, just 20 days ago. We practiced for 7 straight days. We had the 4th of July off, then another practice on the 5th. On the 6th the District tournament started. We hosted the tournament in Goffstown, at Allard Park. Then another practice on the 13th. Bang, the State tournament started on the 14th. Again, we hosted (we are still hosting).

On Friday the 15th, I drove to Canada for a family commitment. I drove back, nearly 400 miles on Saturday, hoping to get back to Allard Park before our game was done. I missed. So close.

So did we. We missed, as a team. So close. We lost the final game of our season, 3-1. Just writing the words makes me cringe, and reminds me how difficult sports are, as only ONE team finishes the season with a win. Yes, just ONE.

I pulled in among the pines as the crowds were just starting to disperse following our game. I felt the pain that I always feel when there is no competitive tomorrow. I felt bad for having missed the game. But as much as I love baseball, family is more important, and that’s where I was needed.

Knowing me I will write too much and blow some readers out. But, as I usually do, I give the feeling of the good, or the bad, the great, or the disappointing, a chance to wash over me. A chance to resonate. Because the taste left in your mouth doesn’t always have to be bad even when things don’t go your way. And I do that by staring the reality right in the face, and I feel the pangs, while taking accountability for the parts I caused, corrected, or corrupted. So take away what you will.

Last year we had 27 days. This year it was just 20 days. So much work. So many throws, and swings. So many words and methods of communication. So much heat and frustration. So much fun. So much improvement. So much effort. So many lessons. So many chances to grow and learn, together. So many positive results that always seem to get less attention than the ones we stop to correct. I hate that about baseball because there is so much failure in the game. But then when skills are being mastered, appreciation should absolutely soar. Most kids are done playing baseball by the time they reach the age of 12.

Ya it was a different year. We had 3 players who practiced regularly with us as to improve their games while not being on the roster at all. I am thoroughly impressed with them for showing up and taking reps all in the name of improvement. Thank you to those kids and their families. You helped us all get better.

It probably goes without saying far too often, so I will say it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. To the parents, the families, the players, the coaches, the volunteers, and the entire support group we all count on. You all are second to none. As one Dad from another team said to me last week, “Hey coach, you guys have a great facility here. What really stands out, is all the work you all do to make this a great experience for all of us. (Laughing, he added) And you look like you have so much fun working together”. I thanked him sincerely for taking a moment to share that with me. I heard a lot of similar commentary from coaches, parents, and officials who happened to spend time with us at the gem we know as Allard Park. So, again, thank you to all of you and those who support your efforts. Thank you to the Allard Family.

Finally, I point out that several folks approached me with encouragement as they relayed their own perspective of how much they thought the team had grown or improved, or both. As a coaching staff, we don’t have the effect on these young men to the level a college football coach might have over four years, but I think there’s a valid lesson in a quote from the great coach, Amos “Alonzo” Stagg when he was asked if one of his college football teams was his best team ever, he answered: “Is this my best team ever? I won’t know that for another 20 years or so.”

So many things to learn. How to improve mechanics. How to make this play or that one. What to do in a game situation. Situational thinking and execution. So many lessons. How to be a better teammate. How to overcome adversity. How to win and lose with grace. How to approach each opportunity to be on the field. How to carry yourself as a fine young man. The list goes on and on.

I am proud of the team, and how hard they worked to improve. I got to see them raise their compete level to a previously unprecedented height, without losing sight of the game, or respect for their opponent. I love the spirit shared, as they willed flawless execution for one another while working to do their best on the splendid symmetry of the diamond. It was my pleasure to work with all of you. And despite me getting fired up to make a point every once in a while, I am truly humbled and honored to walk among you all, and be called coach.

Some previous writings on this subject:

From 2007

Last Season

2014 Season End

It Was Me, I Lost God

Have you ever found yourself looking around in the darkness of your somehow closed mind, and wondered how in the world you arrived at this place? If you were to trace your steps, reflecting on every detail that you pondered in the making of choices you made, did you find that first wrong turn? No? Then you’re not being completely honest with yourself. Own up; look in the mirror; search your soul, and tell yourself the truth, even if it hurts. Do not justify the unjustifiable (“not able to be shown to be right or reasonable”). Wrong is wrong, deal with it. Take your time, as nothing in the rest of your life might be so important as it is to get this right. Seriously.

…How I ever held myself together through this time was a feat in itself. And I know it was God that pushed me, it was God that helped me keep it together, for it was God’s truths I was at war with. My character, my upbringing, the things I knew in my gut were right, the countless places I could have corrected my direction, these were the things I fought during this time. As if I were lost in the deepest, darkest forest while knowing a couple of difficult, pride relinquishing steps were all it would take to get back on track, and instead I talk myself into believing this isn’t so bad. I mean how lost can one get anyways? You have to get pretty lost to lose God. Thankfully the little voice in my conscience that represented God never went completely away. I tried to silence the voice over years of time, but fortunately God’s plan was more powerful than anything I could muster…

The rest of the story.

Thanks #22 (History)

I am thankful for our history, U.S. History. I enjoy reading about it, and learning more about our history. Much more than we were ever taught in school. More importantly, I am thankful for the repeated examples of individuals who showed tremendous character, determination, and integrity throughout our history. Even with today’s speed of life, scenarios involving technological advances, political encounters, and religious discussions, there are points and people in our history that we should, could, and would be better off for having learned from. Even the details of the very first Thanksgiving festival show just how frail the line between thanksgiving and perishing on a foreign shore really was. It’s impossible to imagine how different history would have been were it not for the Native Americans offering their knowledge, and then some, to the English traveller’s. I’m thankful for the holiday which tends to bring families together allowing for focus on actual thankfulness.

How bad do you want it?

Maybe it’s just me, but, doesn’t it often seem like the degree to which we go after certain things in life, the things we would have battled our parents over, or defend to the hilt with our spouses, contradicts what is best for us? We lose ourselves in something that should be lower on our priority list, if on it at all. Or at least our priorities at times if rated one through ten, would be inversely rated as to what would be best for us at that time. Like I said, maybe it’s just me. How bad do you want it? How long will it last you? What more can you do if you have it? What will you have to give up to get it? Before I get carried away asking too many questions let me narrow this down a bit.

The good things in life, the good people, the good times worth passing on, the good that helps others, the good that gives back, the selfless act that helps someone just because you can, the betterment of one’s self, etc. These are things I think most people would agree are worth pursuing. Yet, the situation one often finds themselves faced with, would determine, perhaps, the relentlessness necessary to pursue such a thing or result. In other words, staying on the course you’re on might be the easy way and maybe it even means nominal success for you. Although, you feel or maybe even know that a change, or a rise to your own challenge could mean a whole new level of success. Yet there you stay. I mean if it’s good for you, good for others, helpful to many, etc. then shouldn’t we go after it? We often times do not though, we get caught up in complacency, the trivial, or what is easiest, and put we stand. I have been guilty of these actions, or lack thereof, myself. We all have at some point for some reason.

This is about going out and getting it. No excuses. No settling for what is easily available. Fight for it. The biggest fight is often with ourselves to actually change our own direction. We have all heard it said that the human mind is powerful, or that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. It’s true though. Even though every day it seems that some human or manual function has been replaced by something automated or something a robot can do. People still make the world go ’round. The human element is the most powerful force this side of God, and the human mind is the most powerful asset we humans have. So unleash your mind to achieve those things that are worth achieving. Don’t get caught up or bogged down with the things that don’t matter at the end of the day. It matters not how big or small that achievement or goal is, more important is your will to reach it. “They” say it’s not the dog in the fight, rather it’s the fight in the dog. “They”, say and do a lot of things. So when all is said and done and the stories are told, don’t be the one telling the stories about what “they” said or what “they” achieved, be the story.

I write this as a challenge to myself as well. There are things I need to do. Some achievements that must be achieved for the greater good. Dramatic sounding or not, it’s my truth, and I know I am not alone. If you read this and there’s an obstacle you wish you could overcome, or an outcome you would rather see, or even a different ending to your own life story, then we’re in this together.

There have been more times than I would care to admit that I froze and let something happen or I let a scenario continue, something that I felt passionately about, but did nothing at all. I came so close to throwing in the towel on many occasions, instead I hung in there. I know God has a plan for me, a plan for us all, and I wasn’t ready to give up on whatever that plan is. What it really comes down to is, how bad do you want it? A follow-up question you can ask yourself is, will it help anyone but you? For me, it’s a check and balance as to how important the situation should be. We all feel good when we do something nice for ourselves, but don’t we all feel infinitely better when we do something for someone else? There’s not much, if anything, better than giving of one’s self for another. Remember, we are the most powerful force this side of God, and when we are able and willing to give of ourselves to help others, then that’s powerful stuff, and it’s why it feels so good.

There are most certainly times when we need to push ourselves to be the best version of ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. By bettering ourselves, and committing to a higher level of performance in an area, we often help others by relieving them of duties we should be handling on our own. God has a plan. We don’t know how long we have here on earth, we don’t know what’s going to happen to us, to our loved ones, and so on. So we should make the most of it, yes? Hey, none of us are perfect, and I know writing words is easier said than done. I also know that we have more control than we think.

If you want it to change, then change your thinking, and do something about it. Focus not on the thing or things holding you back. We all have a million excuses for why we can’t. Open your mind and let it flow. Find little reasons to do what needs to be done if you can’t find the big reasons yet.  Be true to yourself, be true to your character, and those are two fewer battles you will have to fight right off the bat. There are things in life you can be passive about; doing right and doing that which needs to be done would be a couple of examples when passive will set you further behind. Half of this is knowing yourself and where you can push and where you can’t. One of the best things I have learned, an continue to learn, is myself. That will be a topic for another time.

Get in there, mix it up, roll up your sleeves, and work at it. You can do it. You can do that thing. You can be that person. You can be that example. You can be that picture of health. You have so much to give. Just when you think you have given all you have, ask yourself again, and I bet you have more to give. You are powerful either way so make it count. It’s up to you. How bad do you want it?