Someone asked “Why do I write for kids?” Mostly because they’re my peers. Once I figured out what being a “Grown-up” was a trap… Responsibility, work… ALL the time. Expectations. Deadlines. Ok we’re done!
I love kids. They are by far the best people… ok, only slightly ahead of Grandparents.
Perhaps I can share my feelings best in a story… Makes sense huh.
I played football, baseball & basketball every day growing up. I played varsity basketball for 2 years in High School, 2 years of Junior College. But my greatest moment came coaching the kids in our neighborhood in baseball.
Ryan Howell was a sort of large, quiet unassuming boy that did not get a great deal of attention and positive feedback from the other kids. He and his brother Jaren were the same ages as my boys Mckay and Garrett. We were playing in our backyard and I asked Ryan if he wanted to bat. He was reticent but finally I nagged him into it. With some assistance he began to hit the ball. And I mean HIT.
In our 5 & 6th grade rec league it was coach pitch. Each and every time Ryan got up I would remind him to be patient. “Wait for a good pitch”. Then I would smile at him and say “Ryan…They don’t respect you!” Oh the joys of coaching!. I’d do my very best to get him a ball just below the belt in the middle of the plate… and then Baseball Ecstasy! Ryan would crank up and he the ball would be in tears coming off his bat and I would just beam before I began to scream ”RUN…Faster!” Almost without exception Ryan would SMASH a ball over the center fielder’s head. The poor kids in center would standing dumbfounded as the ball sailed 20 feet over their heads.
At this point I had absolute confidence that all the bases would be cleared… But one. Ryan was slower than a team of snails pulling a stage coach through a blizzard without wheels. No sooner did the ball come off the bat than I was screaming for Ryan to run faster so he could get a home run instead of a triple. The center fielder would turn and run for 60 to 80 feet to retrieve the ball. Good arm or bad it did not matter. Ryan was just coming to 2nd when the ball was coming in. For every home Ryan had, he had 2 triples that should have been home runs.
With Ryan and the other beasts we had on our team we went undefeated that year.
In high school we went to the TOBC (Top of the Bay Classic) Sonoma State College. The league champions of all the northern California schools battled it out. We won the TOBC in1972. I played 2 more years of basketball at Napa Junior College. But the greatest trophy and most cherished award I ever received came after our baseball season had been over for sometime. Ryan made me a wooden plac, engraved by hand with a pen that read simply “The Best Coach Ever”. Being inducted into the “Howell of Fame” meant more to me than any success I personally ever experienced as a player, and is one of my 2 most cherished physical possessions in this life.