“C’mon now, what do you say kid,” says one teammate. “Hey there it is,” shouts another. I think to myself, why do all these cheers sound the same? Wait. Why am I thinking about this? This is my first year of varsity baseball, I should be paying attention to the game. But the way this season has gone that’s easier said than done.
I’ve spent the whole year bench warming…and it’s been a total drag. With only two innings played the whole year it’s hard to see anything positive through this thick, mucky cloud. I was having so little fun I once even contemplated quitting. It would be so easy to just stop showing up. But then I remember how much this game means to me and how I don’t want the thousands of hours of practice to go to waste. I also think how devastated my dad would be if I quit after coming this far.
After all, since I was three years old he has worked with me to get better. So no, quitting was out of the question. I had never quit before and I was not starting now.
So I stuck with it. And the season dragged on…and on…and on. Until at last we had come to the final week. Only five more games. I arrive at the field like any other day. Only this time, I notice a good friend of mine has come. Apparently, my unsatisfying season was showing on my face because he asked me “Why do you look so upset?”
“I’m like a caged animal”, was my answer.
He gave me a weird look and asked, “what the hell does that mean?”
We both laughed and I say, “It means I’ve been to every single practice and game but I never get playing time.”
“Oh, so you just suck?” He said with a smirk.
“What? No! Not at all!” I shot back.
“Then why do you look so mad?” He asked
“You know you’re good. You get to play every day, even if it’s just practice. And baseball is a game, it’s for fun.”
After he said that I just stood there. I had heard that a hundred times before. Coaches and parents all say the same thing: It’s for fun. I had always listened to them but this time it hit me differently. I did not say anything. I just thanked him and continued into the dugout with the team.
I thought about what he said all through warm ups and why it sounded so different this time. Maybe it was because this was my first season struggling for playing time. Or maybe it was because this was a good friend and not just another parent. Whatever the case, it changed something in me.
When the game started, instead of taking my usual spot sitting on the bench, I stayed standing. I was on the fence ready for the action. And when our pitcher hummed that first strike I heard myself yell, “Here we go, kid.” That was it. I saw the bigger picture. This was about more than me. I should be happy I’m even on the team. I should be happy for my team in general. That was the silver lining I had been missing. I had found it and if I could find the good in this then I could find the good in any challenge I face, be it sports, school, or life, and overcome it.
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