Is There Really A Happy Medium?

Be the best.  Strive for excellence.  Never settle.  Anything worth doing is worth doing right.  We hear these all the time when it comes to most aspects of our lives.  But the reality is that almost all of us are somewhere in the middle.

So, why is it that in sports there seems to be only two options – Crazy and Lazy?  Crazy is the middle-aged father/coach who has his team practice on the field twice each week plus an hour in a batting cage and a tournament with a 4 game guarantee each weekend.  Lazy is the father/coach who has his team meet for an hour each week to play in a game without any thought of practice or any discussion of how the game can be played.  You would think that one team would have a distinct advantage over the other, but in reality, they both have the same opportunity to win or lose on any given day.

So, where does that leave a family like mine who is really looking for something in-between?  Well, it leaves us looking.  The middle is so subjective it can’t be found.  Mine is different from yours.  I might think that two practices a week are beneficial especially with a sport only played for 12 weeks each year.  You might feel that is overkill since we need to ease the athletes into the sport.  Is there a correct answer?  Especially when you consider that children are going to change so often that what might have worked for them last season, might not work again this time.  Yet, we spend more time playing the kids who are more developed that developing the kids who have potential.  It just leaves me wondering, where is my happy medium?

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To Fail or Not to Fail, That is the Question!

Who would ever choose to fail you ask? Well, we all do. Every day. When we make choices about where to spend our time and effort, we are focusing on the things that are important to us, and not giving time and effort to the things that are not. However, when you are 11 and easily distracted, you may not realize you are making a choice. Heck, you probably didn’t realize there was even a question.

Right now, one of my 11 year-old sons is experiencing failure. He has failed at things before, but this time I actually saw it register on his face that HE and only HE was totally responsible for this failure. It is going to sound like bad parenting, but his Father and I have been hoping this day would come. The day he would recognize his own fall, his part in the process and his failure to achieve his goal. In the past, he has always chalked it up to a one-time occurrence – EVEN when it was in the same situation or about the same subject. He has been unable to recognize his choices are causing him to fail. But today, things seem different.

Here’s the story. Fifth-graders at our Elementary school get to run for student council as representatives of each grade level. They fill out an application and if approved are assigned a grade level to represent. Then they are allowed to create posters and place them in the school halls, write a campaign speech, and present their speech to the grade for which they are running. My boys have been talking about running for student council since they were in second grade. Some of the students they most admired were student council representatives. These kids weren’t just the cool kids, but they seemed – I don’t know – more grown up than the rest of the grade. I liked that my boys admired these leaders and encouraged their dream to run.

Now that they are fifth-graders, the time came for elections. Michael asked every day after elections were announced if we could get poster supplies. When we were short on time, he worked on his speech instead. He had goals for the speech, and ideas about the posters and his campaign. Christopher, although also excited, seemed more laid-back about the whole thing. He struggled to come up with ideas. When Michael had already gotten approval for his speech, Christopher was just starting. Honestly, I’m not sure he would have started at all if I had not nagged him to work on it. Once approved, I asked to see it and really it was no more than an outline of items he wanted to say. “What sports I play, make it the best year, not promise things a can’t do…” and so on. I asked him what parts of his speech would be of interest to the third-graders he was trying to represent, and he shrugged his shoulders. I asked him to practice and was able to get him to read his paper once.

The morning of the elections, Christopher could not find his speech. He looked through his backpack, but found nothing. Our morning routine did not allow time for a complete home search, so we were off to school without his notes. When it came time for speeches, he – along with 8 of his fifth-grade peers – lined up in the gym and took a good long look at the podium. He was second in line. Once the first candidate was finished, he knew his ship was sunk. This candidate had a tutu, crown, props and a well prepared and practiced speech. Christopher was gonna have to wing it. As he approached the podium, his hands went into his pockets. He mumbled his name and a quick greeting to the third-grade audience. He then promptly forgot most of what he had planned, said a couple of things about making it a great year and listed off his favorite positions in the sports he played. He remembered to ask for their vote and that was that.

When he took his place along the wall with the rest of the candidates, the look on his face was evident. He had no chance of winning. All of the other candidates were ready for this day and he was not. I felt his embarrassment. I felt the failure myself, but I also felt vindicated. He had been arguing with his Father and I for a very long time about how much time and effort it takes to succeed at something – at anything really. He spent at least an hour the day prior to these speeches playing video games instead of practicing for this moment. He had “forgotten” science homework, but still had time for the X-box. Does it resonate with him now that the time he spent playing directly affected his performance on this project? As is always the case with young ones – only time will tell.

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So Much to Say!

The ideas swim around in my head all day.  I imagine writing them down as I drive the car, take a shower, brush my teeth.  But then, when I have a moment in the middle of the night to write – whoosh!  They’re gone.  I wonder sometimes if this is some sort of cruel joke – the love of the written word and the inability to write anything worth reading.

So, if it can not be me who inspires or entertains, then let me share a few folks who I love to read!

All things Minor League Baseball - http://tepidparticipation.com/

All things Snarky Mom - http://snarkyinthesuburbs.com/

All things Women and religion - http://www.angiemn.com/

of course there are more, but it is 2:19am and I’m falling asleep while typing!

g’nite all!

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Fantasy Football (RoughRiders Edition)

lisacoppinger67:

A little blast from the past to help you transition from baseball to football. Also fun to see how many of them are in the big leagues now!

Originally posted on 'Riders Insider Blog:

Football season is officially here.  We have had preseason NFL the  past few  weeks, but high school and college kick off this weekend.  The start of the 2013 football season got us at the RoughRiders talking about what positions the current ‘Riders would play on our fantasy football teams.  This idea was inspired by a post from last year where the media team asked former RoughRiders Ross Wolf, Jerad  Prince and Strength & Conditioning coach Eric McMahon to form their RoughRiders football team.

Crew_Deuce

This year, Alex and Nathan decided they would like to take a crack at it, so they both drew up their teams based on body build, strength, speed, athleticism, and everything else they know about the current ‘Riders squad.  Eric McMahon did so well last year that he too created a team for us.  It may not surprise you to know that all three teams are quite…

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Change Sucks!

My son Christopher cried himself to sleep tonight.  No one was mean to him.  His pet did not die. He was not hurt or in trouble, he was just sad.  Sad because a part of his life that he loves is changing.  He asked me before he went to bed, “Do you think he will forget about me?  What if we never see him again?”  I cried myself thinking about how sad this change is making my son.  His heart has been touched by this person and he will never be the same again.  In fact, he will be better for the experience, but it is difficult.  There is fear, uncertainty, and sorrow for him. But for his friend, there is hope,  challenge and growth.  Christopher sees the good and bad parts of the situation, but for him, the change is not wanted so it is sad.  CHANGE SUCKS!

I know.  Change is inevitable.  Sometimes we even seek change.  A change of scenery, a new job, a new home, a new friend or the release of an old one.  But for the most part, change requires adjustment.  It is uncomfortable, scary, exciting, invigorating, nauseating….lots of things.  Plus, sometimes seeing the good in change requires clarity, focus and empathy.  All tools that are non-existent in most 10-year-old boys (and their 47-year-old mother!)

The Coppinger clan is going through a big ole’ bunch of change lately.  In addition to losing a beloved coach to the next step in his baseball career, my husband Jim has a newish job that now requires him to travel.  The kids hate it.  They are very attached to their routine.  Heck, every night of the week one or two of them are still snuggled in Jim’s lap after dinner watching TV.  His leather recliner is overflowing with arms and legs while he smiles from ear-to-ear under it all.  It can’t possibly be comfortable, but each and every night, there they sit like a pile of puppies.  On the nights that Jim is gone, things just do not feel right and we all struggle to find comfort in each other.

Add to that the fact that Jim’s 90+ parents are in a rehab facility after making themselves sick.  They can’t see – or really even bend over enough – to clean their home properly so they got sick,  It took me and a crew of professional cleaners 6 hours to get the townhouse ALMOST clean.  It seems unreasonable to go back so we would like for them to move into an assisted living apartment.  But they are very independent (in this case that is just another word for stubborn) and really want to go back to their very own filth where they are in control.

I understand!  It can not be great to contemplate where you want to spend your final period of time on the planet and have it be filled with doctors, nurses, aids and about 50 other old people. They won’t listen to us, after all we are their children, what could we possibly know?  And yet, they do not see themselves clearly enough to make a reasonable decision about their life and their health.  I feel like they are very much like Christopher.  Sad about a change that is not wanted, but necessary.  It is easy to see the circle of life here in the midst of change.  Old or young or middle aged, it still feels sad or scary sometimes.  But to not change or grow.  What would that be like?

Ahhh change…if only I were talking about a penny or a dime!  Oh well, I will strap in and ride along, because in the end it is all worth it!

Peace!

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I love you! No really, I DO!

Look, don’t take this the wrong way, but I totally love you.

Yes, I know those are some heavy words, but you have done something special and therefore are now someone I actually LOVE.  Nope I’m sure it is not just like.  Not even like a lot.  It’s love plain and simple.  You may use that word sparingly, but I do not.  It is truly how I feel.  I smile when I think of, what you did.  I actually get a little rush of tingling emotion when I think about it.  It could be something you did for me or one of my friends.  It could be how you treat my kids or the joy spending time with you brings them.  Maybe it was a generous or selfless act I saw or experienced.  It could just be the amount of fun I have/had with you.  Maybe you marked a special time in my life.  A time with hardships or growth or change.  Whatever it is and however you earned it, you now own a bit of real-estate on my heart.  This space, however large or small, will always belong to you.

Don’t freak out because I say I love you, but do take it seriously.  You have not promised me anything by accepting my gift of love.  But I do ask you to take it.  It might be all I can give to you, but it is worth more than you might think.  Accept it as it is intended, even give yours in return if you are capable, and you will have a champion for life.  Someone to lean on, share with, fight with, laugh with or even someone to cheer you on as you move on in life.  But, whether you reject it or you accept it, I give it to you freely because life without love is no life at all.  I hope to continue to live my life with intensity, heart and abandon.  And I hope that for you as well!

And I really DO love you!

 

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Life Lessons and Baseball

10363766_10204105428541804_8384826281282480115_nMy boys were guest players on a friend’s 10U AA baseball team in a tournament this past weekend.  They had a great time playing two games a day and hanging out with a bunch of like-minded boys getting sweaty, dirty and dreaming about being major league players in the dusty Texas heat.  Although exhausting, I love these opportunities for the boys to totally immerse themselves in baseball for a weekend.  They come to life in a way that is truly beautiful when they are putting all of their effort and energy into the game.  It is not something you see as much in weekly league play.  Tournaments give the kids the opportunity to compete against teams they have never seen or heard of and the possibility to bring home a trophy or ring for their efforts in two days rather than three months of play.  They expect the competition to be tougher so they do not hold back.  What 10 year-old sporty kid doesn’t want to play their sport with all they’ve got all weekend long?

Unfortunately, there is also a ton of crap surrounding these events.  If you accidentally allow yourself to look beyond the kids, you might see the seedy underbelly of the sport that includes the overweight father/coach humiliating a player by grabbing two fistfuls of jersey and yelling in his face for getting tagged out at third base on a steal.  (Keep in mind this particular person would likely drop dead on the spot if he exerted enough effort to jog between second and third base.)  The parents all wearing matching team shirts with their little all-star’s number on the back who scream OUT or SAFE to try to influence the call to help their team.  These same parents are ready to physically fight over a bad call or perceived injustice.  And, if you are unlucky enough to get an Umpire with a personal relationship with the opposing coach…watch out!  We have seen all of these people at each tournament we have attended.  My husband and I have joked about creating a coffee-table book titled, “The Pregnant-bellied Coaches of Youth Baseball”  I bet we could fill it up in under a month if we played in tournaments every weekend.

Let’s talk more about the “coach.”  He is the typical AA coach, one we have seen at EVERY AA league game and tournament.  He is a big man who looks to be about 8 months pregnant under his 3XL collared shirt with his team’s logo embroidered on the right chest.  He is carrying so much extra weight at the belly you can see the back strain as he lumbers across the diamond to his typical spot as the third-base coach.  He is so loud at third that he could be thrown out for disrupting the game and that is actually his plan.  If he screams RUN or BIGGER (referring to the secondary lead he wants his player to take off of first base) as loudly as possible, he will throw-off the pitcher and draw a walk for his team.  When it is his team’s turn to play defense, he sits on the ball barrel just outside the dugout spitting seeds on the field and looking with contempt at the child from the opposing team on the base nearest his “throne.”  He always carries 11 players on his team so he can avoid forfeit if several players are sick.  However, his core of 5 or 6 are the only ones he cares about.  In tournaments he only puts the 9 strongest players on the field.  These 9 may include guest players even when everyone he has on his official roster is available to play.  He will let the whole team come, but will sit even rostered players as subs.  This serves two purposes in his mind.

1) He thinks it gives the team a greater chance to win a plastic statue otherwise known as trophy.

2) He can continue to chip away at the confidence of the boys he feels are “not AA players” and then maybe they will just leave the team rather than requiring him to have a conversation with little Johnny’s parents about how he just isn’t cut out for this team.

What a coward!  Come on, coach and teach are basically the same thing.  Teach the boys who want to play how to play!

During one of the games this weekend against a team with not one, but two of these magnificent examples of youth coaching prowess, one of my sons was the starting pitcher.  He was struggling a bit to find his groove.  He would strike one out, and walk the next.  This pattern continued until his team finally made the third out of the inning.  At this point, he motioned to his father, who was sitting in the opposing team’s bleachers, to come talk to him.  This motion was seen by the parent fans of the other team as an act of war.  My son was obviously signalling to them to “bring it!”  They cried out to the Umps “Foul Play!  That kid is taunting us!” This resulted in a brief discussion wiith the umps and coaches.  Then one of our coaches said to my son that he should not antagonize the other team or their parents.  WHAT?  Are you kidding me right now?  One look at my son’s face and you could tell he was upset about his outing, not prideful or boastful.  He was unhappy looking deflated and raw, not pumping his fists and celebrating.  How could this have been misunderstood?

When my husband decided to go over and explain to the opposing team that there was no such activity.  That my son was simply motioning for him to come over, they responded with an angry, “WHATEVER!”  This same team tried the hidden ball trick at least three separate times and each of these times the pitcher balked waiting for our player to leave the base.  It was just plain silly.  The kids obviously were not prepared for the “trick” and just wanted to play ball.  When one of my sons hit a double early in the game, (unfortunately the same son who was accused of taunting) the opposing short-stop tagged him so hard he almost came off the base.  But my boys are used to this.  He was prepared for the hard pushing tag.  Heck it happens anytime he makes it one base with these teams.  We teach our kids that the play is not finished until you tag the runner on a steal.  Basically this just means touching him with the ball and it is usually in the glove, but other coaches must teach their players to try to push the runner off the base to get the tag.  It has literally happened at least once every game.  It does not matter if we are winning or losing.

So…when I say life lessons, what do I mean?  Do I mean live life like a game of baseball where you will do anything necessary to win a game?  No.  I mean understand that there are people in this world that require you to have “sharp elbows.”  Learn to deal with them and life can be a joyful game!  Play on peeps!

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