Another parent’s response to “I Never Thought It Would End THIS Way” by Karrick Dyer
Karrick is a great writer. I read his story and then proceeded to read several other of his articles. I enjoyed his blog. To summarize, he wanted his daughter to take penalty kicks in the last soccer game of her high school career because, down 3-1, he knew she could handle it if she failed. Well done as a youth sports dad to know your kid.
Your title makes you a manager, but your people will decide if you’re a leader.
My oldest daughter started playing softball when she was four. She was awkward at first and was much more interested in singing Disney songs for family than playing a sport. My wife and I had played baseball and softball so we had her playing in the backyard quite early. I am not even sure if she would have been a lefty had I not convinced her to throw that way. She is now though, as is her little sister.
Hannah was born responsible. She was the easy kid. She very much accepted the rules. Obeyed them for the most part and was well liked by most adults. She is social. She is a chameleon. With all of that said, like being a lefty, we are not sure if any of those things come naturally to her. Though her mom and I are divorced I believe we have done a great job of coparenting our daughters. Because of that great parenting Hannah was not allowed to escape a conversation without a pleasantry followed by a firm handshake. She was forced to interact like an adult and sometimes act like one too. As a result, Hannah suffers from extreme anxiety. Stomach problems. Nervousness. Straight on panic attacks. I am not sure when they started but I know when they manifested.
Hannah played for a Little League team that doubled as a travel team in the offseason. The team had a couple of pitchers who were as good as any we faced in travel or rec ball. Hannah played 1st base for the team and became the resident slapper. She really found her game during the years with this team. However, because of all of the things that I have told you about Hannah, you know the worst thing that could have happened to her was to be named captain of the team. She was. It was. She was given the responsibility of making sure her teammates were doing what they were supposed to when the coach wasn’t able to. Basically, she became the boss. That wasn’t the plan but because she didn’t know the difference between leading and being a boss she didn’t handle the responsibility as well as she could have. In the end, the girls disliked her management but her coaches appreciated it. It was a very weird place to be at her age.
During the coming years she would come to travel softball full time. She was named the captain on those teams more than once with the same result. She would lose sleep. Lose friends too. Stomach problems. Anxiety attacks again. It got to the point softball was no longer fun. It wasn’t for me either. I hated seeing my daughter tore up by the things that didn’t have anything to do with her performance on the field. I was also proud. I knew that she could lead. I had seen it. I wanted her to fight through it because being a leader is important in our family. I was wrong and I noticed it her Junior year of high school.
Hannah started her Senior year with a great attitude. She was ready for softball and ready for the responsibility of leading to be shared by the other seniors. She worked out with the team the entire fall semester. She started the spring semester with a high school tournament and after the first game came and sat with me away from the field with her non-softball friends. I could tell she was miserable. I finally decided to have the “hang up your cleats” talk with her.
She wanted to quit. She wanted to finish what she had started too but not at the expense of being miserable her Senior year. I told her I was afraid if she quit, she’d find it easier to do later. I encouraged her to talk to the coaches. She did. They handled it poorly. She never wanted to go back again and I had had enough. I told her to give them her final goodbye and to leave. It was hard for me to let it go as much as it was for her to feel like she was disappointing us.
My daughter’s high school career ended because she quit. It sounds so harsh but as a parent I learned so much about the experience. She didn’t really quit, she moved on. It wasn’t the closure she wanted but the relief she experienced immediately made me doubt my sanity for not allowing, or even encouraging, it to happen sooner. We aren’t disappointed, we are proud of her. It wasn’t easy. Not at all.
Hannah is now a freshman in college. She hasn’t picked up a glove since she left the team. I have asked her if she misses it and she says she doesn’t know. I get it. As for quitting, she has a job now and she has been there for over a year. She is in a sorority and enjoys that team as much as she enjoyed the softball team. She didn’t quit at all. She found all of the things she actually loved about softball in other activities. This dad couldn’t be prouder of her for teaching me to see past the obvious.