Good News Bears

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Good News Bears My husband works in NYC and he is usually on the train by 6:30 am and and not home until 8 or 9 pm, with the occasional early day home at 7 pm.

So I was more than a little surprised when at the beginning of the March he came home and told me that he wanted to be the head coach of our 10 year-old son’s baseball team. My husband had coached other sports before but had never taken on a leadership role because of his job hours. With many games starting at 4:30 -5 pm, I just could not imagine why he would want to take this on. He explained that there were several dads with kids on the team willing to help out but none wanted to be the head coach so he had agreed, provided I was okay with it. I couldn’t understand how it was going to work or why he wanted to do it, but didn’t want to be negative so I just said fine.

Remember the movie the Bad News Bears?  That classic movie about a team of young baseball players that couldn’t win a game but ultimately made it to the playoffs? Well, after the first day of practice my husband came home and said, “I am coaching the Bears.”

While watching the movie is hysterically funny, living it is another story.

The first half of the season was a disaster. The team was mismatched against other opponents in the league in both size and talent. They made a lot of errors in the field. They weren’t losing games, they were being destroyed. All the coaches and the better players, including my son were getting upset and frustrated.

I try to have faith in my kids (and my husband) in persevering against all odds. But after several weeks in the bleachers – the odds and the other teams were literally stacked against them — it was time for me to have a pep talk.  I didn’t go with the standard “If at first you don’t succeed” or the every popular, “Winning isn’t everything.” Instead, my pep talk began with, “Based on what I have seen, I think it is very possible that this team will never win a game this season. Pick a new goal.”  I explained to my husband and my son that while that while it was not within their reach to win the big trophy this season, they did have an opportunity to make it a fun season.

Things did improve the second half of the season. Our players got better and the games scores were closer. But most importantly, the attitudes improved. All the players rooted for each other, supported each other and didn’t blame one another when errors occurred. My husband went out of his way to help each kid on the team be there personal best and become better players and better teammates. He allowed kids to play positions they never would have gotten an opportunity to play on another more competitive team and the kids loved really feeling like a part of a team – even if it was a losing team. I highly doubt any of them will go on to be major league players or even play in college.  But guess what? Neither will most of the kids that played on winning teams in little league.

photo (5)A few weeks into the season I realized the answer as to “why” my husband was willing to leave work early twice a week for three months. A photo in our basement of him when he played little league and the coach was his father. That team won the championship in their town that year. My husband’s father passed away when he was in his early 20’s. Coaching our son brought back those memories for my husband and created new ones for him and our son. And although they didn’t win the championship, or even one game, my son will remember this season and that even when though didn’t win the game, the good news is he had a lot of fun with Coach Dad.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. What a wonderful post.

    I played on a team just like the one you describe, way back in the 70s–right around the time the Bad News Bears was first released. While losing every single game of the season was hard for us to take, our coach, like your husband, took the humane and character-building path to coaching us. By the end of the season, we were inseparable—we had bonded in a way that none of the other teams really managed to do. At the time, losing each game was pure misery. Looking back at it, it was the best summer of my childhood.

  2. Great post, but the obvious question is, whether or not “on the train by 6:30 am and and not home until 8 or 9 pm” is worth it?

    Sure it affords a certain lifestyle, but at what cost?

    And considering the pix and the author’s reason why he’s “willing to leave work early twice a week for three months,” I’m reminded of something someone told me once: the kid is only young once, at some point in Middle school, High school if you’re lucky, your kid will prefer to hang with friends.

    So take advantage of early years.

    I read the end of this post as hopeful that this won’t be the last time he’s “Coach Dad.”

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