“All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual.” – Albert Einstein
Every February 15th, tryouts begin for our high school baseball team. Being that ours is a smaller school, we don’t have a ton of kids come out, but we get a good mix of returning players, new, raw, but talented players, and a handful of kids that aren’t quite ready to compete at the high school level. From a strictly baseball perspective, you can pick that last category out pretty quickly. However, I have found that you have to look beyond physical attributes to see the true character of the individual.
This season we had three young men show up to all of the preseason workouts. They showed up to weights. They came to everything, and they worked as hard as they possibly could. None of these three were ready to compete, but all earned the privilege to be a part of the team. I asked all three to take on the role of team manager/assistant to the head coach. All three accepted.
The goal is that these students will have the opportunity to be a part of something. They have the same expectations as the rest of the team: they’re expected to be there every day, on time, in the required practice gear. They participate in drills and handle tasks for me as needed. So far, each has continued to impress.
One of these young men has, in particular, already left a huge mark on me. He approaches me every day as soon as I get to practice, and he always has two questions, not just one. They are always good questions, and you can tell he internalizes every bit of information I give him. He always asks for some sort of responsibility, and I am happy to oblige. The biggest problem I’ve found is giving him enough to do because he knocks out things so quickly and adeptly.
I am aware of the effect he is having on me, but knowing if a positive reaction is reciprocated is sometimes hard to tell. In speaking with his mother recently, she related that he was excited for the opportunity, and he is exhibiting a newfound confidence since joining the team. That’s all I needed to hear to know that we were headed in the right direction.
As coaches, it’s easy to get caught up in a mindset of “what can this player do for us on the field”. We pore over lineups, defensive alignments, batting orders, etc., but we often lose sight of the fact that these are kids, and our job requires much more than passing on athletic knowledge. Sometimes, some kids just need to be given an opportunity. Sometimes they just need to be a part of something positive. It’s our job to never forget what it is that we’re really doing. As for my three young men, the benefits have already been more than I could have hoped for.
Take a chance. Give someone a chance. They deserve the opportunity.
Have an awesome Tuesday,