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Column and video: The coaches who allow kids to “play ball” deserve a round of applause

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An epic Little League and Wellsville Girls Softball season thanks to volunteers

Pictured: Coach Lynch and Coach Kewley bring the team in

By Andrew Harris

Up front, I had a 7-year old Little League’r and a 10-year old Girls Softball player this year and they loved every practice and every game, bias exposed.

The season of baseball and softball from this dad’s perspective was just about perfect. Fans filled the stands, the weather mostly cooperated. Younger kids had fun running the bases, and older kids started playing at a higher competitive level. Don’t forget the kids and siblings running around the snack bar and playgrounds and playing in Island Park. A pretty idyllic scene if you stand back and think about it.

When it comes down to it, none of this happens without coaches and volunteers. I can only speak for and from my own children’s experience: These people are solid gold, often parents of players who find a way to make the extra time to make the games happen. They aren’t just coaching a team, they are providing an formative experience for kids and families and our whole community.

Coach shows up early, stays late, makes sure someone is working the snack bar, and coordinates with dozens of parents to keep the team on the same page. I’d be remiss not to mention that they also manage a fundraiser for the next year.

All those big picture responsibilities of a volunteer are important but what really impresses me are all the little things. High fives at first base fill a kids chest with pride and accomplishment. High fives at the dugout after being struck out replace disappointment with encouragement and determination to try again. Teaching young kids to learn from a perceived failure is in fact teaching the necessary life skill of perseverance.

“My coach said he is going to take the whole team out for ice cream at Sugardaddy’s!” That quote from my ten year old speaks volumes. Sure all kids love the ice cream stand, but if you dig a little deeper, this gesture from coach to player is a formative experience for the young child. When a coach, usually a relative stranger to the kids, extends that invitation it is a big deal.

A look at the Wellsville Little League, interview with President C.J. Rahr, a Doc LaChance cameo and the season was dedicated to another great volunteer and coach, the late Tim Joyce.

My child was floored by the concept of a person outside of her family being so nice, so thoughtful. The event of socializing without her family, with her team and now, superhero coach, was a season highlight. That ice cream tasted better than ever and my player now knows the feeling of being part of more than a team, but a community that she wants to be part of in the future.

Too all coaches and team managers: Thank you for taking the time and and for making the ball games happen. Teaching team play, perseverance, and kindness will make these kids better teenagers and adults. Coaching kids, engaging them, rewarding them, and including them makes our community stronger now and in the future.

PS. Don’t forget the spouse behind the coach who wear many hats from stat keeper to first aid specialist to dugout manager!!

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