There’s Always Next Year Girls!

This post is dedicated to my daughter’s softball team, the White Tiger Cubs.

My youngest daughter has never been interested in sports. When she HAS shown the slightest inkling, her grades have held her back (she’s smart, but hates school and her grades show it).

This year, however, she wanted to play softball and she wanted it badly. So badly, she brought home great report cards, even bringing her science and math grades up from solid D’s to A’s.

She goes to a charter middle school, so the “league” is very small–in fact, there were only five regular season games. Her team took to the field with no uniforms the first few games, looking more like a sandlot team than a school team. They had very little equipment.

They could play like you wouldn’t believe for a bunch of relative beginners. They tied their first game. Not a bad start. Over the weeks, they acquired uniforms and equipment, looking more like a school team. And they won their next four games.

Sure, they made mistakes–lots of them. They didn’t let that stop them. They even had practices on days school wasn’t in session–and my daughter stomped her feet and screamed til she was blue in the face that she wasn’t going to miss a practice (that particular day I wasn’t really up to driving). She got to practice, though driving was hell for me that day. If she was that determined to go to practice, I was going to get her there.

The team picked up three sponsors–me, my boss and one of our clients. They now had all the equipment they needed. Every girl had a glove, they had plenty of balls and bats, they had bases (the school had them) and it turned out their sister high school had softball pants. Their jersey’s came in. Still, they played their hearts out.

The games took place on days with biting winds, and the parents shivered in the stands.

They learned how to win and how to win graciously. They learned they could have fun and they learned a uniform doesn’t necessarily make a player. They learned other teams want to win just as badly. The parents cheered on all the girls–it didn’t matter which team the girls were on, the girls were playing in a “baby” league and those girls were trying.

Tonight, the girls learned how to lose. They learned there’s no shame when you give it your best shot and lose to a team who wants the win a little bit more. They didn’t realize, though, this loss, their one and only, was also the end of their season. Tonight was the beginning of playoffs.

You can chalk it up to the weather–maybe. It was a beautiful day here, mid-70’s and neither the girls nor the parents were shivering. I swear everyone had a case of spring fever. Or you can chalk it up to the other team simply wanted the win more. Either way, the girls lost and are out of the playoffs. Their one and only loss.

I have this to say to them, though–Girls, you did GREAT this year. From very humble beginnings, you worked hard and you played hard. You competed well and with honor. Every single one of you has some serious talent and I hope you play again next year. It was an honor seeing your enthusiasm, your good humor, your hard work and your dedication to your team. I salute you girls and hope everyone of you plays again next year.

Well done, ladies, well done. You started with the nickname of “tygers” until you won your first game–then you became “tigers”. A name well earned.

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