Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Too Overweight to Play Volleyball

Game 11

My son had another B team volleyball game. His team won the match 2 games to 1. During the first game, my son had an 11 point serving streak. Normally this would be considered impressive however I am pretty sure that the other team was Gorilla Glued to their respective spots. Our team lost the last game when on of the opposing players had a 12 point run serving. Volleyball is very boring when serves are not returned.

The sad part about the game. The opponent had 9 kids on the team. Of the 9 kids, 7 of them were either overweight or obese. Our side did not have anyone that would be considered overweight. I wonder what the difference is. How can two parochial schools about the same size in enrollment, with the same demographic make-up, separated by 15 miles be so different in terms of BMI (Child Body Mass Index). Here is a link to the CDC to determine if your kid is at a healthy BMI.

Childhood obesity is a major problem in this country.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What a 9 Year Old Athlete Wants to be When She Grows Up

For a recent school assignment, my nine year old daughter had to write an essay on what she wants to be when she grows up. She got an A on the following essay. Nothing she does surprises me, but the maturity in this writing did. She seems to have a very healthy outlook.

When I grow up I want to be many different things like maybe a professional soccer player, a fashion designer, a famous actress or a famous singer. If I end up being any one of those awesome things I still want a family. I want 4 or 5 children and a loving husband. I want to be a professional soccer player because I've been playing soccer since I was 4 1/2 and I still love it. I wouldn't just play one position, I would want to play a couple like right wing and right defense. I want to be like Mia Hamm, the professional soccer player. I want to be a fashion designer because I use [sp] to play dress up a lot when I was younger. Another reason is because I love shopping and watching fashion shows. I would love to be a famous actress because I have been in a few plays and I enjoy them so much. My favorite job I think would be a famous singer because I love singing and hearing songs from the radio, and I am now taking vocal lessons. I will make one of my dreams come true. No matter what job I get I will still have fun friends and family forever.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Keeping the Scorebook

I received a handwritten thank you note from my son's basketball coach.

Stats Dad,

Just wanted to say thank you for all the time and effort of doing the scorebook for this season. It was a huge help and very comforting to know that the book not only was going to be done, but done right. It's a big job and many don't like doing it. Thanks Again.

Coach Matt

The Main Point

I enjoy keeping the books for my kids teams. It keeps me in the games. For Basketball, I kept Field Goals, Field Goals Made, Rebounds, Assists, Steals, Turnovers, Fouls and the total score and timeouts for our team. I also kept the total score, time outs and total shots for the opponent, points by player and fouls. If I had to miss a game, other dads would reluctantly volunteer. Typically they would just keep the total score, fouls and timeouts for both teams.

Athletics or Art or Academics?

Almighty Dad has a really good blog post called Kid's Sports: Lighten Up, Jeez. He writes:

The rate at which kids are being forced into athletics these days defies the reality of a bell curve.  A small percentage are going to make it.  Why would parents invest so much in such a minuscule possibility when there are so many other areas of education where real growth is likely?  

Almighty Dad has a really good point. Suppose my wife and I invested as much time, cost and effort into academics, music or art as we do on sports. Suppose we had our kids concentrate on learning a couple of new languages or pushed them into advanced mathematics. Suppose we had them learn how to paint or sculpt or master an instrument or three. His point is that sports success is fleeting, while other pursuits are life long. I agree to a point, but lessons learned on the sports field are life long too because we do live in a competitive world. We must also remember that enjoyment of sports can be life long too whether you make money at it or not.

My kids go to a wonderful school with a great academic reputation. I have an Ivy League education and to me success in academics is paramount.

My kids have been exposed to music. Both my boys played saxophone for a while. My older son tried guitar too. They did not possess a passion for music and therefore never wanted to practiced it. My daughter plays piano and sings with confidence and passion. In fact, she is singing songs from Girls Pop Party Pack karaoke as I write this. One day she may give up sports to pursue music and that would be OK with us.

My kids have been exposed to languages. They take Spanish and they absolutely dread it. Some brains are wired to learn new languages with ease and some are not. I excelled in mathematics and had to work hard to succeed in language classes. My kids seem to be more mathematically inclined too.

I guess the reality is that we are a sports family. My dad played three sports in college and passed his passion for sports onto me. I played soccer, lacrosse, baseball, basketball and golf growing up in New Jersey. My wife played boys little league baseball, softball (through college), track (high jump and hurdles), basketball, volleyball and golf while growing up in Iowa. My wife and I met playing sports. I guess we passed that passion for sports onto our kids.

I guess the best advice I can give on this subject - expose your kids to sports, music, art and languages and help them find their passion.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

10 Ways to Save Money on Youth Sports

I am keeping a running tally on all the costs associated with my kids participation in youth sports. The NBC Today Show says the average family spends $2000 per year on youth sports. They list 10 cost saving ideas to save you money.

I started my tally March 1, 2010. I have already spent $2,800. March is the month we get hit with travel baseball fees and select soccer fees.

Product Review - Adidas 2-N-1 (Pitching Rebounder)

If you want good stats in sports you need to practice. It doesn't matter which season it is, my daughter loves to practice by herself in the backyard after school. 

We bought her an Adidas 2-N-1 performance Trainer Rebounding Surface so she could practice pitching. She would love to be one of the pitchers for the team.

The Adidas 2-N-1 has a rebounding surface on one side (picture 1) and a canvas side with a hole / net to capture strikes on the other side (picture 2). This device works well. We like it better than the one we were replacing. Our old one was so heavy that the kids could not maneuver it alone. The Adidas one is study enough to take the pounding of a hard thrown ball, but light enough for a 9 year old girl to move around. 

There are cheaper pitchbacks on the market and more expensive ones too. Dick's Sporting Goods website has several models ranging from $40 to $140. We bought ours in the store. I thought that the Adidas unit was a good value at $70. Not all pitchbacks have a rebounding side and a strike zone side. The canvas side with the strike zone will be great for backyard Whiffel Ball and Stickball games. Another great feature is the easy to use locking telescoping side bars. You can adjust the angle of the rebound for both grounders or pop ups. 

It took me about 1 hour to put together. The directions could be much better. Hint - The directions indicate that the side support bars should be connected to the outside of the tubes that make up the main rebounding surface. I did this first, but had a tough time stretching the bungee cords to reach the  canvas which does not stretch. I decided to put the side support bars on the inside of the tubes that make up the main rebounding surface. Those tubes are about 2 inches thick - so moving to the inside brings the bungee cords that much closer. Also when you are putting the canvass side on make sure the telescoping side bars are in a short position. 

The Main Point

I recommend this product for young kids due to its light weight. I would not recommend this product for teens.

Picture 1                                                  Picture 2

I was not paid for this review.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Sports Gear

My daughter started softball today. She had a 1 hour session at an indoor batting cage facility and had a 2 hour session outside.

The start of the season can only mean one thing. New sports equipment. My daughter and I went to Dick's Sporting Goods. We bought a pair of Nike cleats. My daughter liked the model that she can change the color of the Nike Swoosh. There are 10 colors to chose from. This was particularly important because, she did not yet know the color of her new team. Matching is very important to her.

We bought a new bat. It is a Mattingly V-Force. Don Mattingly was on of my favorite players so I was happy about the selection. My daughter selected it because it was the right size 29 in and 17 oz and because it was purple. She noted that she could make the Nike Swoosh on her new shoes purple to match.

I also bought her two Wilson fastpitch softballs, Umbro socks, an Adidas bat bag and an Adidas 2-N-1 Performance Trainer (A baseball / softball pitchback). My daughter loves to practice basketball and soccer by herself after school. This will allow her to practice softball by herself too. The total tab for today $230 dollars.

When I was nine I remember using a wooden bat. One day it cracked. We went to the hardware store to buy a wood screw and a some black tape to fix it. That bat lasted for the rest of the season.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Can Sports Stats Measure Heart?

Great post from Joe Posnanski, a Senior Writer at Sports Illustrated.
There’s no stat yet that measures heart.”
– Nomar Garciaparra

You hear stuff like this all the time, and often from very good ex-ballplayers like Nomar Garciaparra. Baseball stats are lacking. They don’t quantify what’s inside. They can’t tell you what’s really going on. They don’t reveal a players leadership, his commitment, his consistency, his poise under pressure. Stats cannot measure the heart. Read the rest...
I always feel proud when a coach or another parent tells me that my son or daughter played with heart. My wife and I praise hustle, hard work and courage more than hits, baskets, goals, etc. We tell our kids that there are going to be lots of games without hits, baskets or goals, but you can still feel great about your performance if you play with heart.

Gave Up 32 Points for Lent

Game 10

Each Friday during lent my son's school has a big fish fry. It's a big, well attended fundraising event. During the last fish fry of the Lenten season, the school runs a 3V3 single elimination basketball tournament. The kids do not play for trophies, they play for year long school bragging rights. It's a fun event that is open to every one in the school. The gym is filled to capacity and absolutely electric.

Each team is made up of four players. Kids sign up for the event in pairs and then the 3V3 committee made up of 8th graders creates the four player teams. Each team is randomly seeded and placed in a bracket. In the first round, my son's team had to face the team with the biggest and best basketball player in the school.  My son's team battled and scored a respectable 28 points, but gave up 32. My son played his heart out and scored 14 points. I watched the game with another parent who commented, "Man your my son plays everything with such heart.

Muscle Head Dad

This takes crazy to the next level.

This preschooler has abs. Giuliano Stroe is a 5-year-old boy from Romania. He now lives in Italy. The boy dubbed as the world's strongest kid has become a YouTube sensation. Giuliano has been training since he was 2. He has been going to the gym with his father ever since he was born.

The dad insists his son's workout schedule isn't excessive. "He is never allowed to practice on his own. He is only a child, and if he gets tired, we go and play."

This demonstrates that there are crazy parents outside of the US too.

My son has wanted to lift weights for the last couple of years. We will not let him. We consulted a fitness expert, who happened to be the dad of one of the kids on my son's team. He told us that kids should not work out with weights until they go through puberty. He said sit ups, push ups and pull ups are fine if not done to excess. I would say Guiliano does them to excess.

See the Video of Giuliano Stroe

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Parents Holding Kids Back

Crazy Youth Sports Parents Series

This is the craziest story about youth sports that I have heard in a long time.

My friend's son came home from school and had the following conversation with his mom:
Son: "I was talking to Johnny today."
Mom: "Johnny who?"
Son: "Johnny from my baseball team last year"
Mom: "What was Johnny doing at your school today?"
Son: "Going to school."
Mom: "What do you mean?"
Son: "What do you mean, he goes to our school"
Mom: "No he moved to the 3th grade school building"
Son: "No he didn't. He has been in our school all year"

Johnny's parents had their son repeat second grade again. According to posts on Johnny's dad's Facebook page, Johnny had always done just fine in school even though he was young for his original class. According to my friend, Johnny was socially confident, so that was not an issue.

Johnny is an exceptionally good athlete. Did the parents hold their kid back to give him an added advantage in sports? That's what the members of the community think. If so, that's nuts. I am no psychologist, but the stigma associated with holding a kid back could have lasting emotional implications. Implications that could undermine a strategy to help the kid succeed in sports. Time will tell.

My wife and I were in no rush to send our kids to kindergarten. We always thought that another year of maturity would be beneficial for school, social life and sports. We also selfishly wanted to keep our kids at home as long as possible. Life is short, there is no need to rush off to college and the realities of the world.

Should Kids Concentrate on One Sport? Advice from a MLB Player

Should your son or daughter concentrate on one sport?

My son's baseball U12 team will play 75 games from March to July. We played 55 last year and I thought that was crazy. The team, however, does not play year round like some elite travel teams. I think that this is very important. Young arms need a rest. And training in other sports builds other muscles and builds stamina that will only help the young baseball player.

Read this letter from an over zealous parent. Her son made our team accepted the offer then they reneged because our team was not serious enough. For perspective, our team came in second in the CABA World Series the year before.

Coach P

I am sorry but I am very disappointed, this is supposed to be a National level AABC and we are only going to have 2 practices in february – even my 7 yr old has been practicing 2-3 times a week since dec. 1st and now we are stepping up to 3-4 starting Feb 1st.

No batting practice, no pitchers and catchers workouts. I have been part of travel teams for 10 years at various levels. We are supposed to be one of the best teams based solely on the talent accumulated but I do not see how these boys are expected to go out and play 55 games at this high level of competition without proper preparation.

If what you wrote below is the final word on your plan – I am so sorry but we are going to need to move on – I turned down several teams just to be with you because of what I heard was a fantastic opportunity and organization for my son – but first impressions mean everything – and unfortunately your first impression is not up to the standard we are looking for.


From Morgan Ensberg's Baseball IQ Blog - Morgan Ensberg, former MLB player,  has some good advice for baseball parents in his blog. He concludes with this:

What is cool is that the parents of these kids really love their children.  They want their kids to have every opportunity to succeed.  But I am afraid that they are setting them up to fail.  Maybe their children will be better at baseball at an earlier age, but they won’t get a much needed mental break that comes at the end of a traditional season.  Nor will they get the benefits that other sports bring.  Playing more than one sport at an early age is vital to understanding team environments, comprehending the need for hard work in areas you may not be good at, and finally learning game theory.

Your child does not need to be scouted by a bureau.  Your child does not need to go to a showcase.  Your child needs to know that you love them and that being great is about desire and never giving up.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Should Your Young Athlete Play Up?

You frequently come across a kid who is playing up. In other words, playing with and against older kids. Should young athletes play up?

Playing with better kids will make your young athlete better if they can compete. The same kid may be better off building up confidence playing well against his or her age. Confidence is the key for me. If they can play up and build confidence that is a great situation.

In our town kids 4 and 5 year olds play Instructional soccer. My daughter played in the Instructional level as a 4 year old. She was quite advanced compared to the other kids and was often frustrated when her teammates failed to pass the ball. In the fall of 2005 when my daughter turned 5, we moved her up to the Passers division to play with 6 and 7 year olds. I was the coach and knew she could do it. She ended up leading the team in scoring that year.

My assistant coach, Coach Joe, had a daughter on the team who was 7 years old. She was a good soccer player. Following the successful season, my assistant coach asked me if I would like to coach with him again in the spring. We worked well together, so I said yes.

When I signed up for the spring season, I noted on the registration that I wanted to be paired with Coach Joe. I got a call from the league saying that Coach Joe's daughter, now 8, was moving up to the Wings division. I told my daughter, who was still 5, that she would not be able to play with Josephine this season because she was moving up to play with 8 and 9 year olds. My daughter asked if she could play up. She heard that term when she played up last season. I told her that it would be a big jump. After thinking about it for a few minutes she said, "Dad, if Josephine can play in that division so can I. I am better than her." I could not argue.

I talked it over with my wife. I agonized over it. We were concerned about our daughter getting hurt. We were concerned about her losing confidence because she would be playing against much bigger, faster and experienced girls. We were concern what other parents would say about us as parents. But my daughter was dead set on playing with her buddy Josephine. I had seen Wings soccer and knew she would not be the worst player on the team. I got the league to give my daughter special permission to play up. To my absolute surprise at the end of the season, my kindergartner daughter was the second leading scorer. Second to a 3rd grader who turned 10 during the season.

My daughter became a better player playing against older kids. She eventually moved back to her age group when she made an elite regional team. She ended up leading that team in both goals and assists.

The size of the heart matters more than the size of the player.

I Thought You Were Going To Choke

Game 9

My son had his 2nd volleyball match in two days. He had to miss the last hour of his baseball practice to make the match. Baseball is a priority for my son, but since the baseball team was just going over base running for the new kids, he opted to play volleyball. I was ok with his rationale and decision, so was his baseball coach.

The volleyball team once again got beat in the first game by a decisive amount. The team however won the next two games to win the match. The last game was exciting. My son's team was losing 12-14 but forced a crucial side out and gave the ball to Big C to serve.

Big C is a misnomer. Big C is one of the smallest kids on the team. He is coordinated, but not overly athletic. He is very smart and very coachable, but lacks confidence.  His sisters are both big time athletes. One led her HS volleyball team to the state championship and went to college on a volleyball scholarship. The other sister, who is in 10th grade, plays soccer on a super regional team. The echelon of soccer is 1) rec soccer, 2) select soccer (levels F,E,D,C,B, Premier and Elite), CUP soccer, ODP and Super Regional soccer. Of course there is High School soccer, but HS soccer is not as advanced as some of the upper levels of club soccer. Big C's soccer playing sister will earn a scholarship too.

Big C will most likely not play sports in HS let alone college. Recently, after he received word that he did not make the A team in volleyball, he sat his parents down to prep them that he might not get a scholarship. He feels the pressure. His parents, of course, told him that they did not expect any of the kids to get scholarships and not to worry about it.

Big C - served the last 4 points in volleyball game to win the game and match. My son and his teammates carried him off the court. His mom said a curious thing to him after the game, "Great game son. You had me scared, I thought you were going to choke." Did I mention lack of confidence.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

B Team Youth Volleyball and Star Trek Underwear

Game 8

Two weeks ago my son tried out for the school volleyball team. I was introduced to the game of volleyball later in life. My HS didn't have boys volleyball. Once introduced I played in competitive leagues and really learned to appreciate the game. I actually met my wife from across a volleyball net.  Eventually we played volleyball on the same side of the net. We were usually the 2 setters in the 6-2 formation.

I watched the 6th grade tryouts and thought that my son was one of the better players trying out. Again, he was not a polished volleyball player, but he showed athletic ability.  Prior to the tryout, I had informed the evaluators that my son is committed to baseball and would likely not be available for many of the volleyball games. He was placed on the B team. My son expected that and was OK with it too. Baseball is intense, so he just wants to have some fun with his schoolmates.

My son's baseball team is made of up of some of the very best players in the metro area of about one million people. This team has been coached since 9 years old as if they are HS kids. My daughter plays at the highest level of soccer in the area. She plays in a league with the top 70 or so best players in the metro area. So we are used to watching very capable athletes mature beyond their years. B Team volleyball is a whole different world. Many of the kids on both sides of the court are not athletic at all. They are there to have fun and hopefully not get hurt.

My son played in his first volley ball game of the season. It was really hard to watch. The ball moves at a snails pace compared to a baseball, yet no one seems to be able to get to it. One dad yelled out to his son, "the object of the game is to hit the ball before it hits the ground." That got a chuckle from the fans. On one play one of our better players hit a rocket overhand serve across the net. The player on the other team prepared to bump the ball but the screaming serve hit him square in the face. His glasses flew off. He was not hurt, but I am pretty sure he stained his Star Trek underwear.

My son's team lost the match. (L 1-15, W 15-13, L 13-15). My son ran off the court after the coaches talk and said, "Dad lets go!". "What's the hurry?", I asked. He just wanted to leave as soon as possible. I could tell he was a little embarrassed. We laughed about the level of play in the car and talked about one of his awesome spikes. I reminded him that this was for fun and that for some of the kids this is their only chance to play a sport. I told him to not take it so seriously.

Pop Up to the Catcher

Game 7

The third game of the Tennessee tournament was a match up of the 4th and 5th seeds from pool play. My son's team qualified 4th by beating the 5th seed head to head the night before. Well the team did not do as well the second time around. The 5th seed team pitched their ace against some of our new kids. My son was the catcher for the 2nd, 4th and 6th innings and batted 2 times. In his final AB he walked and was eventually thrown out at the plate to end the game in the 13-2 loss. He was being overly aggressive in the lopsided game. The coach did not yell at him, but he knew he made a mistake and was mad at himself. 

After the game we walked back to the car, I know not to talk to him in a situation like this. We walked in silence and packed up the car. I broke the silence by asking if he wanted to go to Cici's pizza before the long drive home. He loves the cinnamon buns there. He said yes. I broke the ice about the game by saying what a great play he made on a pop up that was straight above his head. While it looks easy to the casual fan, a pop up straight above the plate is hard to pick up with a catchers mask on. My son handled it like a seasoned pro. My son said, "yeah that was pretty good, I would have had the other pop up down the 3rd base line if the 3rd baseman did not call me off." That ball dropped to the ground. Remembering that play seemed to cheer him up.  The Stats Dad also told him that the other team only scored 1 run in the innings that he was catching. I also reminded him that no one out hustled him when he was on the field. He felt pretty good about those things.

We had a good time riding home and listening to NCAA basketball on the XM Radio.

First Baseball Game

Game 5

Last year my son's baseball team carried 10 players. All 10 players were really good. In fact these 10 players went to the finals of the CABA World Series two years ago. They beat a Puerto Rican All Star team and a Panama All Star team in the process. Needless to say with only 10 players on the roster, each player played a lot of innings and had lots of at bats.

This year, the coach wanted to add three players to the roster for several reasons 1) Motivation - he wanted to sit players who were not giving it their all. Last year he had to play everyone, every game and every inning whether they earned it or not. 2) Pitching depth - we are playing 75 games so the team needs lots of arms for week long tournaments. And 3) Coverage for injuries. There will be a lot of sitting around and it will be interesting to see how the 10 original players handle it.

My son was the primary catcher last year, but sat on the bench for the first pre-season game. He did get to hit as a DH. The coach wanted to see the new players in action. Last years back up catcher left the team and the coach needs to find a backup catcher. My son understood. The coach handled it well. He went up to my son prior to the game and explained the situation. The coach also said he wanted my son to catch the ace of the team who was starting in the second game. My son went 0-2 but scored the first run of the year in the 5-1 loss. The opposing pitcher dominated the game and with 13 batters ABs were few and far between.

Game 6

My son started at catcher. He played very well behind the plate. He did not look rusty at all.  He went 0-2 in this game too. He grounded out to SS twice. My son is lefty and very fast, I thought he beat out one of the grounders for his first hit of the year. The umpire did not agree.

My son was disappointed in the limited number of ABs with 13 players and by going 0-4 in the first two games of the season. But he was happy they won the game. The team qualified for 4 place in pool play with the win. The team they beat qualified 5th place. They would play each other again in the single elimination quarter finals the next morning.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Confidence to Show Your Stuff

I never tell a coach how to coach or where to play my kids, but I like to interact with them to learn what is important to them and to find out what my kids may need to work on. I pass this knowledge on to my kids when we practice in the backyard.

Here is an exchange with my daughter's soccer coach.

From: Stats Dad
Sent: Friday, March 19, 2010 2:37 PM
To: Coach Tiffany
Subject: Thanks

Hi Coach,

I have been meaning to talk to you about my daugther prior to the season.

First of all, I am very pleased with her development. Prior to last season she did not have any concept of how to play defense. She was always used as a striker on offense and a goalie on defense, so she never developed defensive skills. She is really turning into a complete player.

I am also very pleased with her offense - she has always been a very smart player with great vision and anticipation. I think that she is even better and her touches are more efficient. 

Here is where I need your help or advise - I would like her to regain her confidence in using her individual moves again. Prior to last year she would school kids with her spin and scissors moves. She has been and always will be an unselfish player, but every game she would put on a show. She did not use them to show off - she used them to create space. I know that the competition is much better, but in my opinion that is more of a reason to work on these moves and not less of a reason.

She does them with me in the backyard all the time, but for some reason she is reluctant to do them in games now. Can you restore her confidence to use these moves in game situations?

Good luck this weekend

Stats Dad

From: Coach Tiffany
Date: March 22, 2010 7:59:11 AM EDT
To: Stats Dad
Subject: RE: Thanks

Stats Dad,

I will work with her.  It seems to me that she is not the only one.  I think the majority of the girls on the team are reluctant to use their moves.  I know they all can do them because we do them in practice.  But for some reason, maybe self-confidence, they shy away from using them in a game situation.

I am pleased with your daughter as well. She is becoming as you said, a more complete player.
Thanks for the note


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Safety Equipment for Youth Baseball

My son's coach just handed out McDavid shirts. I had never heard of McDavid before today. They make performance and protective apparel. These undershirts have some high tech honeycomb padding on the chest that is designed to protect the heart. They call it Hexpad technology. Each year you read about a young pitcher who died of cardiac arrest after getting hit on the chest with a line drive. This product is suppose to reduce the impact of a baseball.

My son was born with transposition of the great arteries. He had open heart surgery when he was 4 days old. As such, heart problems are always on our minds. We are thankful that our coach is mandating the use of these protective shirts.

Our coach is also mandating the use of All Star fielding helmets. Every couple of years you read about a young pitcher getting hit on the head with a line drive. A 14 year old boy who plays in the same organization as my son was hit in the head last year. He almost died on the field, was in a coma for several days and is now working hard to get back on a baseball field again. He has a long, long journey.

I expect some heckling from uneducated teams and fans when they see our kids wearing fielding helmets - ala John Olerud (Mets, Blue Jays, Yankees, Red Sox, Mariners). John Olerud suffered a brain aneurysm in college. He wore a protective helmet in the field after that.

I hope our boys stand proud and start a movement.

Video - Pitcher Injured in NY

Opening Day Youth Baseball

The spring season starts today. The first pitch in the baseball tournament in Tennessee is in 2 hours. My daughter's spring soccer team opens the season in a tournament in Kentucky.

I have missed very few games over the years, I hate missing games. Heck I hate missing practices. With two kids playing multiple sports this spring scheduling conflicts will be abundant. My wife and I will divide and conquer and we will update each other via text and phone and capture as much action as possible with our digital SLR, high def Sony camcorder and Apple iPhone.

Opening Day Youth Baseball and Self Doubt

I am sitting in a Comfort Inn in Tennessee this morning. My son is fast asleep. He is about to play in a weekend baseball tournament. He plays on an elite baseball team that is scheduled to play 75 games this season. He is the team's starting catcher. Last year he was the team captain. He will have to earn that title again this year. I am confident that his hustle will be noticed again.

He has been on this elite team for 3 seasons already. My son has the highest career batting average over that period. He should. He has had a personal hitting coach for years. We pay that coach $60/hour. Lots of his teammates have started using my son's private coach. They want that extra edge too.

We had a great time during the 6 hour drive last night. We listened to NCAA basketball and talked the entire time. We stopped for a quick dinner at Chick-Fil-A. During dinner, we talked about how he was feeling about the tournament. He shared that he was excited and scared. I asked, "what scares you?". He was afraid that he would not get any hits. I told him that he might not, but reminded him that at the end of the year he will look back and remember lots and lots of key hits. He said, "I don't hit well in tournaments". I said really, "How did you earn All Tournament Team honors at the CABA World Series?". He said, "I know, but I did not hit well in the AAU National Tournament." That was the last tournament last season. He did not hit as well as he usually does and he remembers it vividly.

Great Save

Game 4

My wife just called. She is watching my daughter play soccer in a tournament in Kentucky while I watch my son play baseball in Tennessee. My daughter's soccer team has won 2-0 and tied 3-3 so far in the tournament. My daughter did not play in the first game because she was in a school play.

My daughter was the leading scorer of the team in the fall. I have come to expect her to score in almost every game. Before I left, I asked her to score a goal for me. She did not have any goals. I should not have put pressure on her like that.

My wife called to my daughter and asked her if she wanted to talk to daddy. I heard her yell yes with enthusiasm. She told me about her save in goal on a penalty kick. That save preserved the tie. She was not at all disappointed about not scoring.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Baskeball Championships - No sibling rivalry

Game 2 

My 9 year old daughter played for championship of the town recreational basketball league today. Her team earned a number two seed in the tournament with a great regular season record of 10-2. The number one seed had the same record but won by tie breaker. As it turned out #1 played #2 in the finals.

My daughter's team won 24-22 and my daughter scored 16 points. That was a career high. The game was back and forth the entire time. Whenever my daughter's team was behind, my daughter took over. She was not going to be denied. She had been practicing all week in the back yard. She even shoveled off the court to practice on day. The morning of the game, we got to the gym super early because she wanted to practice. She had one thing on her mind the entire week leading up to the game and that was winning the championship. It was really fun to watch her determination. Several parents came up to my wife and me after to game to tell us our daughter was a "rock star". I was beaming.

The year before my daughter played on an all boys team in an "almost" all boys league. She was coached by a former NBA player. She learned how to dribble with both hands, shoot and play defense. That experience and her willingness to practice what she was taught made her better than any girl in her all girl league.

Game 3

Right after the basketball game, trophy ceremony and ice cream party, my daughter rushed off to meet her elite soccer team for an indoor match. My daughter scored 2 goals and had 2 assists in a 4-3 win. She can do it all.

No Sibling Rivalry

My son watched the basketball game with his girlfriend. His girlfriend's sister was on the other team. He watched with pride as his sister scored point after point. My son had never scored 16 points in a game. Afterwards, to our amazement, he proclaimed that she was a better athlete than him.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Send The Coach A Thank You

Here is a thank you I sent a coach and his reply. You can learn a lot about your kids if you talk to their coaches.

-----Original Message-----
From: Stats Dad
Sent: Friday, March 5, 2010 11:44 AM
To: Coach, Matt
Cc: Coach Jon
Subject: Thanks

Hi Matt and Jon,

Great games last night. They were so much fun to watch.

My dad flew in from FLA to see my son (and his sister) play this weekend. My dad, who was a great basketball player for Rutgers back in the 60's, was very impressed. He was impressed with the team, but was really impressed with the progress that my son has made in one year. He could not stop talking about it.

Last year, my son played with passion and made a lot of things happen because of it, but he was out of control most of the time and his basketball IQ was low. He still plays with passion, but he is using it so much more productively and intelligently. For that and for building his confidence, I thank you both.

See you tomorrow.

Stats Dad

On March 5, 2010, at 12:01 PM, Coach Matt wrote:

Thanks for the kind note ...

One thing I must tell you about your son which was most impressive to me happened during a practice...

At the end of practice and a lot of sprints, we were practicing free throws. If the kid made the free throw practice was over for that player. If the kid missed he had to run the up and down the full length of the court. AJ who is normally a good free throw shooter couldn't hit his free throw so he ran and ran and ran. Everyone else stood and watched AJ run alone except for your son who had already hit his free throw but continued to run with AJ until he finally made one. He did this on his own no direction from any of the coaches...

This is something special and shows a GREAT teammate! I know it is a result of learning from someone (his parents)!

Just wanted to share that with you... your son's a great kid and always  has a smile on his face which is very infectious

Coach Matt

Thursday, March 4, 2010

College Scholarships and Pro Potential

To set the record straight, I have no delusions that my kids will be professional athletes. You need rare, unbelievable talent and an amazing amount of luck to get to that level. And making it to the pros gets tougher every year as the world gets smaller and talent comes from far away lands.

Based on my kids current talent level vis-a-vis other kids their age, I do however think that my kids will be good enough to play in HS one day. And I think that they have an outside chance at playing a sport at the collegiate level. Their mom played softball in college. Rest assured, I'm saving money in a 529 every month.

It should also be noted, all kids develop differently. I have seen kids who were amazingly uncoordinated at a young age become HS stars. These were the kids who worked the hardest and wanted it the most. I have seen kids who were studs early in life fail later. From what I can tell, success came much too easily to the young studs in the beginning of their athletic careers and then they could not cope when the competition challenged them. They were probably coddled by coaches and never learned how to work hard. I have seen stud athletes burn out and walk away from the game they loved so much as a kid. And finally, injuries are a great unknown.

My job as a dad is to guide them not push them. I will get them the best training and work with them in the backyard whenever they want. And I will always celebrate hustle and hard work over scoring.

Youth Baskeball Championships

Game 1

My son played for the league championship in basketball today.  Prior to the game, my son thought that his team had a good chance to win it all. He was familiar with the opponent because they played them two other times during the season. His team lost both regular season games, but by a combined 8 points. In those games, my son's team did not have the services of their big man who was out with a broken wrist but had since returned to action. We all thought that the big guy would be the difference. Well, the other team showed up with 3 all star players we had never seen before. One of these 6th graders was about 6' 1" and had facial hair. The other two looked like McDonald All Americans.  My son's team lost by 35 points. My son scored 6 points but he was deflated. I felt bad for the kids on the other team who did not get their minutes because of the super subs. The coach for the other team was going to win at all costs.

It was a good year for my son. Baseball is his main sport, so he had never concentrated on basketball before. Prior to this year, he had only played rec level for the town league and for his parochial school. Sixth grade is the year when his school league has tryouts and creates A, B and C teams. My son made the A team. I am pretty sure that my son was the last guy to make the team.  Many of his teammates had played competitive basketball on AAU teams. He made the team based on his athletic ability and hustle during tryouts and not his basketball skills. The coach of the A team is a paid coach who really knew the game. He taught my son how to play the game.  By the end of the season my son was a starter. He was still not a polished offensive player but he played terrific defense and hustled non-stop. I was proud of him.

Youth Sports in America. A Year to Remember?

This blog will chronicle youth sports in America. My two kids combined will play in about 250 games over the next twelve months. There will be both triumph and tears. There will be phenomenal plays and fear. There will be domination and doubt. There will be excitement and expenses. Coaches will compliment, cheer and chide them. There will be high fives, hugs and long road trips to bond. I want to remember it all because they are growing up fast.



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