Yesterday, I finally got around to writing congratulations cards for the graduates in my life. Fortunately, there are many that are moving on. And while many are off to college AND get to continue their baseball careers, the majority of them are simply graduates. What is crazy is the fact that some of what were “my youngest students” are now graduating from… college!!! Holy smokes, that was fast. It’s even funnier because these athletes are still 8/10/12 years old in my mind. The image I have of them is jogging up to camp, or tumbling into the training facility, holding an oversized bag and an equally oversized smile.
As I reflected on the annual process of writing these cards, I nearly teared up with proud energy of this movement we’re creating. Now that I have two kids of my own, I firmly and wholeheartedly believe the statement that “it takes a village to raise a child.” I feel blessed, truly blessed, to have played a role in the upbringing of these kids! And now that they are moving on to their next chapter, I feel great that we have equipped these young men and women with the tools to have a chance. The character to make a difference. And the guts to do something big. To play without the fear of failure!!
I just got done with an amazing lunch. I sit on the Board of Directors for a start-up non-profit called Joshua 1:Nine. And while the lunch had many highlights, it was absolutely uplifting and motivating. Mostly, I felt great that there is so much good being done through athletics. Whether faith-based or not, sports (and baseball in particular) teach life. They equip young people with tools, skills, and character-traits that prepare them for life. You don’t think so? Come look at these graduation announcements and thank you letters on my desk!! We ARE making progress through baseball and have so much more to do.
What we must do is keep kids playing games.
Let’s review that statement:
- KIDS – Yes, they are kids… they aren’t miniature sized adults. They don’t need to be serious all the time. There is space and time to dig in the dirt, be goofy, and not listen.
- PLAYING – They should be playing, not working. Not hyper-focus, win-at-all-costs, get me a scholarship by 5th grade, type of competition.
- GAMES – As the saying goes: Baseball is a game… and games are supposed to be fun.
I believe that we CAN have our cake and eat it too. Meaning: We can prepare every kid for the big leagues while accomplishing those three bullet points above. We can let them be “kids”. We can ensure that every baseball activity feels like organized “play.” And we can let them have fun and enjoy the “game.” All while we ensure that the instruction received is top notch and the development opportunity is great!
In no particular order, these are three organizations to highlight for doing things the right way. I look forward to partnering with each of them in the future and just feel inspired to share:
Positive Coaching Alliance – I’ve been sending baseball parents to www.positivecoach.org for over 15 years. I’ve seen their presentations, printed off their resources, and walked with them in keeping my own actions and activities positive. One example I cite often is the difference between these two statements:
- Stay off the dirt!
- Stay on the grass!
Catch yourself the next time you go negative. 😉
Character Counts – A broad and sweeping program for character development in schools, I was introduced to Character Counts in almost 10 years ago. Their Pursuing Victor with Honor pulls from my favorite coach of all time’s principles. John mutha-scratchin’ Wooden!
Changing the Game Project – This is my new favorite crew. Ran into John O’Sullivan’s stuff on the web a couple years ago. They are very heavy in soccer, and offer a message that is well-needed across all sports. John has a great TED talk that is great and his organization is growing rapidly. I Love what they are doing and I am excited to share more of Changing the Game’s efforts going forward.
If you know of others that we can add to this list, please share. Let’s build a movement of GOOD through sports. Have fun, play hard. It’s the Dugout Captain Way.