Fourteen years ago, a portion of my patellar tendon was repurposed and now serves as my anterior cruciate ligament. It was my first major surgery experience. I am deeply appreciative of the amazing work performed by the surgeon who said it was among the worst tears he had seen. I am thankful for those who pushed me during therapy, helping me relearn to walk and encouraging me to spend time on a bicycle. Knees (and ankles and elbows and shoulders) should never be taken for granted.
KC works in the rental car business, but his passion is coaching kids, helping them to appreciate and improve as players of the greatest of games.
“Coaching is my sweet spot,” he said.
He was approached by a group of home-school parents and friends to coach their children in a new baseball program — Defenders Baseball. Isaiah (Day #165) and Joel (Day #90) are planning on trying out for one of the teams.
Encouraged by KC and Isaiah’s mom, I drove 30 minutes to attend the skills evaluation clinic to see if coaching 10 or 12 or 14 year-olds might be in the future for next summer.
As best as I can tell, it happened while walking from the van to the ball field. Some kind of strain or pull or who knows what situated in the middle of my lower back. Strong enough that it took my breath away when it happened. By walking. One foot in front of the other. I didn’t step in a hole or anything, just walking. I stretched and stretched and continued stretching while KC and I threw the ball. Soon, players started to arrive at the field, pairing off for catch. I noticed one sitting by himself on the bench and invited him to catch.
Koby and I tossed the ball and he told me of his American Ninja Warrior aspirations.
“I work out at a gym in Republic. I can make it up the warped wall, but the salmon ladder is a lot harder than it looks.”
I never thought it looked easy.
After Koby was warmed up, I spotted Isaiah in the dugout and invited him to a game of catch using the new Wilson.
“Catch it on the palm, still can’t feel it!” he shouted to me with a smile.
“It should be in great shape for you come December.”
KC separated the 20-plus boys into two groups to run timed sprints. I was the starter. Isaiah’s dad, Grady, helped me encourage the boys to run fast and start in the proper base-running position. When the two groups went to different fields, I stayed with the younger group and partnered with Grady.
He played baseball collegiately and shared some stories of his baseball heritage, family members who played in the minors and one who saw a little action in the MLB with the Cubs. I caught in for him while he hit grounders and watched him patiently work with players as they tried to throw from the mound.
To coach or not to coach?
That is the question.
I’ve never thought of myself as a coach. Breaking down how to do something and putting it into words so others can do it is not one of my strengths. I’m more of a just-keep-at-it-never-give-up-and-you-can-figure-it-out person. I’m not sure that translates on the baseball field.
Bench coach? First base coach? Water boy? We’ll see what happens.
My back stiffened even more on the return trip home.
Thank God for icy hot and ibuprofen.