I have been coaching ball now for several years. I have had both boys and girls teams. Once i even had a coed team. I have had rough patches and some not so much. The last few years I have been very spoiled by the success we have enjoyed on the field. In 2008 I started coaching Pee Wee girls. that is eight years of age and younger. I had the privilege to watch how it was done for several years before taking on the challenge to manage a team on my own. The one thing I wanted to do in this league was to change the way the girls played the game. I watch as my oldest, Brittany played Pee Wee ball and seen some things that needed to be changed. Most teams at this level were just making the play at first. Never an attempt to make a play at first.
In my first season we worked on making the team smarter all around players not just assuming they are girls and they don't have the aptitude to make smart plays. In fact the notion that they couldn't made me kind of mad. We started working on making the girls aware of the runners and where the correct plays were. It took all of that season and most of the fall season before we made a play on any other base but first, but we were starting to make the plays to go after the lead runners.
The following season we worked very hard to keep our teams intact. It wasn't easy to do. I just didn't want to start over a square one I wanted my players back. We got them. In 2008 we introduced a more aggressive style of base running. The girls were taught to round on a fly ball and wait for a throw to the base before either advancing or going back to the bag. It knocked the socks off the other coaches. Some of the coaches that were more serious adjusted and worked on the teams to make better decisions and they even adapted their running game to match it. The more passive coaches complained that I was pushing the girls to hard. I only see it as making my girls better.
That fall we introduced sliding. Again we were the subject of heated debate. One thing was for sure we gave the other teams a lot to deal with.
We played very well all of those seasons and never did we finish higher than 3rd place. I was happy, very happy. We had raised the level of competition in our league and transformed all of the teams in to better all around players.
In the spring of 2010 we drafted our spring team. I was held out of the first five rounds of drafts. All of my players were sent to other teams. The only players I kept were coaches kids. We drafted at team that was all first year players into a monster we had created. To make matters worse bu the time we were allowed to draw our first players there were not enough players left to complete our roster. We started the season with a short roster and an infield that had never really played there before. As the season rolled on we went from a bad news bears type team to team that just so-so. Before the season was out we jump from last to the 4th place. Sometimes it just takes good coaching. I have been blessed over the last few years to have great coaches and that makes all the difference in the world.
During this fall we put together a combination team. Some girls from my spring group and some from other teams we had played. None of the girls we picked up had played in the fall before. They didn't know that in the fall the level of play is just so much higher. We started practicing in July for a season that would start at the end of August. We had so good talent on this team. They were all great kids. The parents were so unlike any of the teams I had put together in the past. They were dedicated t making this a great season. They all worked really hard to raise the funds we needed to buy really cool uniforms. In fact they raised so much money we have some still left over we need to figure out how to use up. They all practiced hard and we worked very hard to get them the skills we had instilled into the teams we had in the past. Skills the other teams were going to have. Skills they had to learn on the fly to keep up with us the last few seasons.
Game one we came out swinging and we took out the same team that ended the season in first place in the spring. They had every player from the spring team and they were scary good. We beat them 5-4. Game two they beat us 14-3. It was going to go this way the rest of the season.
Practices we worked the drills. We worked on speed. We worked on glove work. We worked on basic fundamentals. Game after game we lost. Some were close games, some were just plain massacres. We made adjustments, they didn't work. We worked on batting and it didn't work. It seemed no matter what we tried nothing could buy this team of hard working bloody knuckle players a win. We gave every team we faced a battle, but when the last out was made we walked of the field short. They didn't deserve to lose all but one game, but they did.
When the last game was over and we were all gathering for pizza I thought most of the team would just skip it and pretend the season didn't happen. Everyone was at the party. The parents who were awesome all season were awesome at the party. The coaches that were doing everything in the ability to get these team on top were all thanked and hugged by players. We had taken our swing and we missed. Some times we just miss.
When the season was done and the gear stored for the winter and I was getting ready to enjoy an evening without practice I noticed i had some e-mails. You see I always tell my coaches impact the player. Coach the whole kid not just the player. Give them something they can take off the field and remember positively no mater what. After the season I wasn't thinking about that at all. I was still licking my wounds, my hurt pride in a season where we finished dead last. It was just not something I was accustom to dealing with. i opened my e-mails and almost every player had sent me an e-mail thanking me and telling me things about the season they enjoyed. Mostly the stuff they were taking away from the season that were positive. I had taken a swing and got a hit. just not the hit I was looking for. Looking back I see where all of my girls improved greatly. They had all learned to play a higher level of ball. they had hung with teams that were teams for several years and played well. Home run.
To the Fall Ball USA Lady Yankees, I love ya girls. Thanks for an awesome season. Your number 1 in my heart.