Friday, March 7, 2014

If You Can't Be an Athlete, Be an Athletic Supporter

Halloween: My only time to be a star
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

When I was a kid, I tried to get involved in sports.  I played two seasons of outdoor soccer, a season of indoor, and a season of baseball.  I hung up my cleats before reaching middle school, knowing that I was not an athlete.  The final realization came in 6th grade when I tried out for the basketball team and didn’t make it.  Really the only thing I had going for me was being tall, which was the reason I tried out.

Bowling Buddies 1985
So I turned to bowling.  Every Saturday my parents would take me to White Oak Lanes in House Springs, a 10-minute drive from my childhood home.  I wasn’t the best bowler either, but there was something rewarding about it.  Even though we were a team, I didn’t feel the pressure to perform that came with the other sports I had done.  I even earned a few trophies along the way.

As I got older I wished that I could wrestle, but again my skills or lack there have got in the way.  Plus, I have a bleeding disorder called Von Willebrands, which means I’m a free bleeder.  Because the doctors’ were always concerned I’d have a bleeding episode, I was prohibited from any contact sports, so during the wrestling unit in PE in junior high, I sat and watched.

Fast forward to adulthood.  I have three kids, each blessed with a different athletic abilities.  Our oldest is the golfer.  Our youngest is the gymnast.  But it’s our middle kid who actually inspired this blog.  He plays baseball and does it pretty well.  He’s also pretty good at basketball.

Heading to first base
I was watching him at a baseball practice recently.  The coach was hitting the ball to the boys and they had to field it and throw it in to the other coach.  I sat and watched for several minutes, trying to see what the coaches saw as they critiqued the way each kid caught the ball and threw it back.  Perhaps it’s my inability to understand sports and lack of participation, but other than the obvious blunders, I was clueless. The coach was noting when they lead off with the wrong foot, or how they’d let the ball hop too many times before reaching it.  I’m in awe and have a whole new appreciation for what coaches do.

Coach Kevin
I was an assistant coach in his early baseball days.  All that required was making sure the ball sat on the tee and the kids ran to the bases in the right order.  Pretty easy stuff.  Now there are all kinds of analysis and critiquing going on.  I feel like if I practice with him, I’m undoing what he’s learning.  I also coached several years of soccer, but in reality it was more like herding cats and making sure they kicked the ball anywhere remotely close to the net.  This of course makes me feel bad because I’ve just never had a passion for sports like he does. 

As I sit here writing several paragraphs, I’m not sure what the point of all this is.  I guess I wish I were like other dads who have that ability to nurture an athletic gift.  But the reality is, I’ll be the dad in the stands, cheering (silently, because it embarrasses him) and being grateful to those who do coach and help kids put their talents to good use.

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