Tag Archives: life lessons

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

Someday, From This Debt, I Hope I’m Never Free

Are you a parent? Did you have parents? Did someone ever give of themselves toward your betterment in such a way as to change your life? Do you owe anyone for the piece of them they gave, just for you? Have you even thought about this? Should you do something about it? Do you need a push in the right direction?

Well this is what I have come up with, so far.

As time rolls on, the memories start to fade, with their edges frayed, the vibrant colors wash out some, and the family unit bends but doesn’t break. Time removes me from the places where we once went about our daily life knowing only what was there, sheltered in our little world. Distance puts time in between us, even if we want otherwise. What was once just down the hall, now requires a plan, accounting for all. The sweet, trusted security only separated by a flight of stairs, is somewhere in the past, or at least not so easily found, or fast. The supported now strain to support, and one longs for it all, again to be the other way around. Examples ran across our view whether we watched or not, and it seems so many times now, the lesson I forgot. I recall the good, and the things I suppose I want to see, and how much love did it take for it, that way, to be. Then the age added up but the character never changed, just the love and lessons somehow rearranged. No one kept track, as it should be, but from this debt, I hope I never feel free.

We live. Hopefully we love. We wander but never lose center. We look back, I hope, more than we look down. We look ahead, I hope, never disconnected from the past. We help, I hope, remembering from where we came. We make time, I hope, because minutes are fleeting. We linger, I hope, how much has been vested in us. We leave, better than we found, I hope, for that’s how we were taught.

I think on this matter a lot. I wonder at times how much is left in the well. When I take stock I am always astounded at how much more there is to give. It is then that I know how it once felt for those who have come before me. Then if there’s a push I need, a shove I crave; I play this song (Kayla Reeves, TSO) and listen to the emotion that is impossible to keep from spilling over all within earshot. I stir in the message shared amid the words that roll into my own personal movie playing just behind the portals I use to see. And I am reminded that, from this debt, I hope never to be free.

SOMEDAY

He won the war, in a foreign land
That was no hero, that was my old man
And he came back home, where he met his wife
And he raised his kids, while he made a life
Now he never preached, though he always knew
And we watched him close, just to pick up clues
And sometimes late, in the dead of night
I can see him there, in the pale moon light
I am trying
And I don’t know how
And I don’t know when
But I’ll have to tell him someday

And as for this woman, my father wed
We knew we were loved, with the words unsaid
And when we were young she taught us all to read
And then one by one, she would watch us leave
Never saw her cry, for she hid her tears
As one by one, we would disappear
But of course we’d write, and of course we’d call
Just to hear her voice, whenever we would fall

I am trying
And I don’t know how
And I don’t know when
But I’ll have to tell her someday

So I wrote these words, and I hope they last
For the years have come, and the years have passed
Think of all they gave, think of all the debt
But can’t find a way, to repay them yet
For the days still come, and the debt still mount
And do words unsaid, ever really count
But sometimes still, in the dead of night
I can see them there, in the pale moon light

I am trying
And I don’t know how
And I don’t know when
But I’ll have to tell them someday

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Kayla Reeves with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Boston 2015

A few days with Marjorie

Marjorie with family, July 2014

Marjorie with family, July 2014

I knew time was short, and I knew she was quite ill,
Though I didn’t expect it. I prayed she’d win the fight.
That dreaded phone call, the news shook me still.
The earth as I know it got a little bit darker tonight.
 
For those of you who knew her better
For those of you who knew her worse
For those who knew her different than I
My experiences led to this little verse
 
For me, most mornings started with a prayer at the kitchen table.
I felt she’d always be there, prepared, as long as she was able.
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