When our family moved to Atlanta last year, we found ourselves in a sort of fish-out-of-water situation. Or, a Canuck-off-the-ice situation, if you will. For the few years prior, the only sport my 3rd grader had participated in was hockey. You see, in Canada, boys (and girl too!) live and breathe hockey. They take skating lessons, they play in leagues, they even play on the street. Canadian boys know how to turn anything into a puck—a ball, a toy car, a hamburger bun.
In Atlanta, though, our hockey options were limited, and we were told that everyone who is anyone plays little league. So, reluctantly, we traded in Josh's shoulder pads and ice skates and helmet for some cleats, a glove and a jock strap.
Josh showed up excited for this first day of practice on his new team, The Bats.
I was nervous for my 7-year-old. He had never so much as swung a baseball bat or held a glove in his hand, while everyone else on his team has been playing since they were barely potty trained.
Josh smiled as he got his first strike, he smiles as he got his second, and he even smiled as he was called out.
He spent several months trying desperately to make contact with the ball and to catch a ball in the outfield without it popping out of his glove. And he never stopped smiling.
And then one day, he hit the ball.
And then he hit it again.
And he got his first run.
And he made his first catch.
And something clicked. He wasn't just an okay baseball player; he was good.
Just this week, he hit himself a cycle.
And he still never stopped smiling. And do you want to know why?
Because his coaches and his teammates knew he could do it. Instead of putting him down during those months, they knew that encouragement went a long, long way. They said, "YOU CAN DO IT JOSH!" enough times for Josh to really, truly believe that he could do it. Instead of blaming Josh's failed catches for the Bats' loss, they told themselves that Josh would make that catch the next time and they'd soon enjoy a sweet victory.
Baseball, like most organized sports, is a TEAM SPORT. Coaches, parents and players are all important, and my son is learning some super valuable life lessons from his days in the field, like these 9 right here:
1. Treat every person with respect. It doesn't matter if he is the best player on the team or the very worst.
2. Don't blame other people for your losses. It was a team effort; it's never a single player's fault.
3. Don't take all the credit for your wins. It was a team effort, it's never a single player's win.
4. Believe in yourself, even if you it's hard.
5. Believe in others, even if it's hard.
6. Never, ever give up. Just because you don't shine today, it doesn't mean your day in the sun isn't coming.
7. It's important to take chances. As the great Wayne Gretzky said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." Take the shots. Swing the bat. Try to catch the ball.
8. Take constructive criticism and learn from it.
9. Sometimes there's nothing more encouraging than a little pat on the rear.
Let's hear it from YOU: "What life lessons do kids learn from playing team sports?" for a chance to win a $500 gift certificate for sporting equipment for your child’s team.
Want to help more children stay active by playing team sports? Go to SUBWAY® Baseball DeSIGNS Auction on Ebay. All proceeds go to the Little League Urban Initiative, which helps fund inner-city youth leagues and teams.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SUBWAY® Baseball DeSIGNS. The opinions and text are all mine. The $500 Gift Certificate Giveaway Contest runs from August 19 - 28, 2011. A random winner will be announced by September 1, 2011. Official Contest Rules.