The other day I saw a comment from one of my buddies from college about his kid playing a sport. He was talking about trying to encourage his kid in the sport she was playing and how that is often difficult. I shared with him an experience I had with my own daughter Ellianna and how I as her dad have tried to encourage her. I think I would like to share it with you all as well, not to toot my own horn, but to hopefully encourage other parents to follow suit.
So Ellie started playing softball last year. She did extremely well that year. It was coach pitch and she was blasting those balls every other pitch it seemed like. She’s always been a speedy kid and is as competitive as they come, the complete opposite of me. When I was a kid, I played t-ball and I think my coach just decided that if he placed me far enough in the outfield, he could forget I was on the team and just play the game down a man. Which, honestly was most likely for the best since I was more interested in chasing butterflies in the outfield than playing the actual game. Ellie however is serious about this stuff and is almost always on point with her head in the game.
Anyway, this year they started doing “kid pitch”. While most of the games are just a revolving door of kids getting walked because of ball pitches, occasionally the kids will just swing and basically get themselves out by swinging at pitches that would never have been a strike. That being said, during one of our games this year Ellie came off the field in tears after being struck out. She told me later that she was upset because she hadn’t gotten a hit in two games.
I found her behind the dugout crying with two of her teammates attempting to comfort her (good teammates). I went up to her and while hugging her, I whispered this into her ear, “Darlin, if you never hit another ball in your life, I would still be bursting with pride for you. I am proud of you and I love you! I love watching you play your games and I am excited every time you are playing. As long as you are having fun out there, you have fulfilled every expectation I have ever had for you in sports.”
Now, to be fair, she continued to cry and be upset. She has very high standards for herself. However, I always want her to know that her winning or losing at something doesn’t affect my feelings or thoughts about her. She is my daughter and I am proud of her just because she is mine.
I remember one game we were at, I was standing by the fence watching the game, and a man was standing next to me. Apparently, his daughter was at the third base, covering it. He started growling at her, “Hey (kids name), you better catch that ball if it comes to you! Do you hear me? You have to make up for that last inning and you messing up like you did! Don’t embarrass me like that again! You hear me?” I had to bite my tongue. I was ready to let that dad know what type of dad I thought he was being. Maybe I should have, but I will tell you that I vowed even then that I would never be like that man. That’s not who God has called me to be.
D. Michl Lowe