Its going to be a busy couple of months for the Little League baseball and softball all-star teams in our area.
And that starts with the District 5 9-10 year-old baseball tournament, which begins Friday in Warner Robins. This time of year always beats home two central points about youth sports.
1. Even in all-stars, winning shouldnt be the main focus.
2. It should about the kids learning and loving their sport and wanting to continue playing.
Those points are sometimes lost on the parents, coaches and even the players. But it doesnt have to be that way, and the Shirley household got a refreshing dose of that this Little League baseball season.
Both of our sons, Ben and Matt, moved up in age groups this year and had some adjustments to make for a faster game. They both had solid first seasons, but most importantly, they both want to play again next year.
We can thank their coaches for that.
We figured it was going to be a good year early in the season when Ben told my wife Laura, I dont really care how many games we win. I really like all my teammates and coaches.
The Reds ended up winning their share of games and just missing a shot at the championship series, but again, thats not the point. His coaches taught him the game the right way, and he learned a ton on and off the field. He already is taking what he has learned and is getting ready for next year and has a terrific group of kids coming back as teammates for next season.
Matt had a similar experience with his coaches, who made the game fun and again, taught the boys what to do and how to do it instead of harping on their mistakes and yelling at them for making them. Yes, that does happen, even with 9 year olds.
Matt had a knack for getting on base without getting a hit. His smallish strike zone led to plenty of walks, and he had to lead the league in getting hit in the batters box. His coaches made sure to rotate all the players in the field, and their approach paid off as the team just missed getting to the semifinals.
Matt certainly improved along the way, scoring the winning run in the first playoff game (after getting hit to get on base) and making a nice catch in the outfield (and getting a chest bump from his coach) in the next playoff game.
Those are the moments the boys (and their parents) will remember. Not the wins or losses.
And thats what we should all focus on the next couple of months.
Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org