Coach Mike and girls softball

Having a few years of coaching T-ball behind him, Coach Mike figured his team of girls ages 12 and under understood softball. The league assigned him the youngest of the 43 girls who came to try-outs. Since so many wanting to play, the league formed a third team instead of two. Coach Mike’s team included his daughter, Sande.

“It was my first year of coaching with mostly11 year-olds. I did not realize that some of them had lots of experience and some did not.”

“We had our first practice on the Monday before our first game on Thursday. We had snow on the field so we only had one day on the field. The one day we had on the field we just did drills outside.”

The team they faced that first Thursday lived further south where the snow had melted. They had had a month of practice before the first game. Coach Mike began assigning positions, “Abby go to right field. Mandy go to left field.”

Abby interrupted him, “Hey Coach, where is right field?” Mandy chimed in, “Where is left field?”

“I knew then that it was not going to be a good game. Some thought that home plate was first base and first base was second base. I had to help half the girls know where to go play.“

“And I had to help the other half,” Sande said.

They lost 39 to 2.

Coach Mike went home defeated, but determined. At the next practice he walked the girls around the left, center and right fields and the bases.

“They practiced and we got progressively better.” Coach said. Still, every Thursday, the team lost the game.

“About the fifth game I realized, these girls are fast. The other teams had a hard time catching them if they stole a base. So I would signal ‘steal’ by touching my hat and arm.”

Their last game was at home. As they drove to the field, the girls asked, “Hey, coach, if we win, can we pour the ice water over your head?”

“If you win, you can pour anything you want over me,” he said.

That week the team was to play a double header. The other team did not show for the first game. The girls won by forfeit.

“So we can pour the ice water over you?”

“Well, no, you didn’t really play,” Coach Mike said. They began playing the second game.

“I pulled my hat and touched my arm to tell the girls to steal to second. Some of them still did not remember the sign for steal, so I began yelling out, “Steal! Steal!” They would steal, the other team overthrew the ball, and we were scoring points. The other team was beating us 9 to 6 in the last inning.”

“We had last bats. Sande stole second and made the run before it finished,” he said.

“We won! We won,” the girls yelled.

“I don’t know,” Mike said looking at the score keeper. “What was the actual score?”

The score was tied 9 to 9.

“We didn’t win,” Coach Mike shook his head regretfully,

The score keeper spoke up, “technically since you tied and its your home field, you won.”

“You should have seen the faces of those girls. We had finally won.”

The girls grabbed the tub of water and poured it over Coach Mike.

“It was hot, and I was okay, until Sande told me that they had been using the water to soak their sweaty towels, to cool off,” he said smiling at the memory of his team’s first win.