Tis the season for baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and well you know the rest of the jingle! For our family, Little League baseball is wrapping us this week. I write that with mixed emotions. The boys have such a good time playing, they make new friends, and I really enjoy watching baseball. I also love to watch my hubby coach. He's fantastic with the kids, helping them to learn new skills, build confidence, and have fun playing the sport of baseball. On the other hand, I am looking forward to less crazy evenings and far less peanut butter and jelly sandwiches eaten on the run!
End of season also means All Star selection time. If you don't like baseball, hang in there with me! This time of year is tough on coaches, parents, and players almost unnecessarily. What I've lost in time making Pb and j sandwiches, I've gained in wisdom about what is really important for raising All Stars and if everyone could just see it my way, the world of Little League, or youth sports in general, might be a more pleasant experience! It's entirely possible that's not true, but read on.
Even the most laid back, go with the flow parents can get wrapped up in the adrenaline of winning games. It's fun to win and I'm sure we all want our kids to succeed especially doing the things they love most. However, I hate when I find myself losing sight of the true end game. I forget that I'm cheering on a whole person, not just a baseball player. Maybe like you, I'm so focused on what's right in front of me that I've forgotten the true goal. All Star selection time rolls around and of course both my ball players are waiting, fingers crossed you might say, for the email to come. For days they ask my husband and I if we've received the email and for days we put them off. In the meantime, we have many conversations about what being an All Star means. As a coach my husband has to choose All Stars from his team and it's really difficult. He believes that an All Star doesn't just have the right skills but also the right attitude. He wants players to give their best effort at all times and to be good winners and good losers.
All Stars are supposed to stand out. It's considered an honor to be selected. So many times in the last week or so, I've been reminded of the correlation between being an All Star and being a Catholic Christian. What is our end game? How are we going to get to Heaven? We can look at the Communion of Saints as the best examples of what it means to be an All Star. Each Saint is known for something unique that they did, whether ordinary or extraordinary, to the best of their ability. Maybe they spent time with the poorest of the poor, or taught in a school, or died for the name of Jesus. No matter what, they kept plugging along. Just like my boys have to practice to get better at baseball, we all have to practice to be better Christians.
We can't become better Christians without practicing...every day. We have to put time and effort in...every day. Our practice might include daily prayer (the rosary, meditation), the sacraments, adoration, Scripture study, fasting, tithing, etc. There will always be tough games or tough days. Just like my boys shouldn't throw their bats down when they strike out, we can't chuck our crosses out the door. We have to pick them up and keep moving. There are days when I would just love to stomp off the field and sit on the bench and pout! I mean who doesn't have days like those, it's reality because God never said it would be easy. But just like my boys have coaches who help them to be better, we have a Heavenly Father to love us and guide us along the way. When we feel like less than All Star material, we just need to ask for help. None of us were called to live out our vocation all alone.
So in our house we ended up with one player making All Stars and one not, and no one is worse the wear because they know their end game. Yes, of course, my son who didn't make it is disappointed, but he cheered for his friends that made it and he knows he needs to work harder for next year. I'm thrilled that he can see the big picture and it reminds me to do the same.