By Jennifer Harrison
I was a reluctant softball mom.
Soccer was my sport, which I played from age 5 through most of high school, and naturally I assumed my first born-daughter Grace would follow suit.
Six words changed all that …
“I’m signing Grace up for softball,” my husband declared.
Soccer was usurped.
I figured my then-kindergartner would give it a go with the bat and ball and we’d move on to scoring goals. Funny how your children prove you wrong.
Seven years and more than a dozen teams later, all three of my daughters play softball. My oldest is on a travel team, so alas, no time for soccer.
My girls’ intense love of the game came from the Davis Youth Softball Association and spring days spent on the field.
With the DYSA sign-up deadline here Saturday, I thought I’d share the top three things my children have gleaned from playing softball; why their fellow players love the sport; and, yes, why I love it too.
*Life lessons: “Always pay attention to everything, even if nothing is going on.”
Sage words from a 9-year old.
Alyssa Waterson is in her fifth season and that’s her approach to softball. It is a cerebral game. It can be a slow game, too. In our multi-tasking, tweeting, quick-fix world, I view this as a good thing.
Girls learn the magic of living in the moment while thinking in their cleats.
Should I swing at this pitch? Steal this base?
They also learn the power of patience.
“You don’t always get it right away; you have to keep on practicing to get the mechanics right,” explained Madison Rutherford, who as a 10-year old pitcher in her sixth season has practiced the art of perseverance. Her wise little sister Dakota added: “It takes time to develop in the sport.”
Then there’s the lesson of sportsmanship, explained by Veronica Roe, also 10, who’s played for half a decade.
“I’ve learned to win without bragging and lose without crying.”
Can we pass that one on to a few professional athletes?
* Girl power: Blame it on Jennie Finch, the blond, glitter-headband-wearing pitcher who won gold at the Olympics. “Throw like a girl” and “hit like a girl” have become mantras of sorts.
Softball is a safe place to be a powerful female. You can don the shimmery headband and get dirty sliding into home.
“What I like best about softball is getting up to bat. I want to be the biggest hitter,” said Isabella Contreras, age 11.
“It’s easy to learn and always get new skills,” explained Lauren Wilcox, 12. She added that those skills transfer to other areas too, like track and field.
Then there’s the power of team camaraderie.
“You can make new friends with girls on your team and since teams change each season, you make more friends each team you play for,” reasons Heather Breckner, age 10.
* Ball know-how: “That was a dropped third strike!” yelled my 8-year old as she watched a Major League Baseball game.
While a dropped third strike is rare in the big leagues, my daughter knew what was going on. Softball is a sport girls can play for years and watch for a lifetime.
Speaking of watching, Heather has the big picture in mind. When asked if she has her own daughter someday, would she want her to play softball?
“I would like to be her coach or at least watch every one of her games.”
Heather’s own father, Mark, does just that — coaches his kids.
Give it a try! Davis Youth Softball sign-ups go until Saturday with registration taken and more information available at www.davisyouthsoftball.org.
It seems softball is stealing a lot of families’ hearts.
— Jennifer Harrison is a DYSA board member and a reporter/producer whose work has appeared on Discovery Health, HGTV, DIY Network, PBS and in various publications.