I got a plaque in the mail the other day.
Well, I should technically say I found an envelope containing something that I would later discover to be a plaque but for now had been blown into the driveway by one of those sideways rainstorms that will suddenly pop up on any given brutally hot, late summer Georgia afternoon.
You know the kind.
The kind where the sticks on the ground outnumber the leaves because all the damp leaves from your entire neighborhood have blown against your chain link fence.
The kind where even kids with the baggy jeans and exposed boxer shorts hike their up their pants to run.
The kind where researchers at Georgia Southern University would estimate that no less than 30% of all dogs in the Coastal Georgia area that are carried around in small purses or the crook of the elbow would have been blown into the Atlantic had they been outside instead of sitting in their mama’s lap watching the Real Housewives of Washington D.C
But they’re so cute…..
Anyway, I tear open the envelop from the Bulloch Parks and Recreation Department and out pops a thank you for being the coach of the PAB Mets tee-ball team this past spring. The nice plaque had the image of a baseball with a “2010” in the corner and a picture of the team in the center - the kind of plaque you see in the lobbies of small businesses and the waiting areas of local restaurants.
Actually, the picture came out pretty good. Only one person was caught picking the underwear out of their derriere.
Of course, it was one of the coaches.
I’ll be honest, when I agreed to be the coach I didn’t set a particularly high bar for myself. I just wanted to get through the season without any broken bones, black eyes or bite marks - on me or the kids. I think that’s a reasonable expectation for kids that need an emergency set of clothes at school.
I can happily report that I flew my “Mission Accomplished” banner in front of my house after the season. (Take that, George Bush).
Now, I’d like to throw out a thank you to Chris, Brandon, Keith and Jason for being my assistant coaches. They became assistants by default: they showed up for the first practice. Believe me, I couldn’t have done it without you (without the kids, maybe).
Anyway, being an assistant t-ball coach is akin to being a combination border collie and WWF referee. Keeping the kids paying attention and preventing them from throwing dirt balls at each other are the biggest responsibilities. (Note to parents: keeping them from eating grasshoppers is up to you)
Plus you need quick reflexes to be a coach because there is nothing more important than the ability to the use the kick-save to stop a hard-hit shot from going deep into the outfield, for that is the greatest, single chance for a tee-baller to get injured.
Picture it: a freakishly large kindergartner who knows how to hit because his dad played high school ball (every team’s got one) gets up and cranks one hard right up the middle. As the ball rapidly zips into the outfield, it goes through no fewer than six pairs of legs. Even though the ball has merely passed through their personal space, each of the six kids (plus a couple others) thinks the ball is theirs to play.
(Yes, I tell them to stay in their position. C’mon….)
Here you have six kids, on their horse, running full speed into the outfield where the ball has come to stop in the grass. Inevitably, the first kid kneels down and stops short to keep the ball in front of him. The momentum of next one, unaware that the first one was going to suddenly stop, carries them over the top of the first kid, which is then followed by four more occurrences of careening and colliding. That’s a lot of little bodies with big heads flying crashing into one another.
Let’s not even talk of the rugby-like scrum for the ball, when the real fighting begins.
So thanks to my assistant coaches and all the other volunteer coaches and assistant coaches who make t-ball, soccer and all the other rec sports possible. With or without the plaque, I can’t wait to do it again.
Phil Boyum has come to realize he will never again fit into his letterman’s jacket without an eating disorder. He is the host of “Mornings unPHILtered” simulcast weekdays from 9-10 a.m. on WWNS 1240 AM and on the Internet at BoroLive.com. He can be reached at (912) 489-9454 or firstname.lastname@example.org.