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Battah up!

March 6, 2012

Tonight marked the beginning of city league youth softball.  The youngest Sparkette pulled on a team shirt, laced up her cleats, and grabbed her glove.  Mr. Sparky and I grabbed Taco Salads from Taco Town (because salad is healthy, you know) and headed for the bleachers.

Every spring marks another year at the ball fields, and with the exception of last spring we’ve been parked there annually since 1998 when the eldest Sparkette made her softball debut and the youngest Sparkette was a teensy toddler.  Sometimes the schedule is a pain.  But we wouldn’t trade it.  Watching those girls grow up together in the city league sports system has been a total pleasure.  You get to see a lot of their character as it develops.  Some are bold and daring in the way they play.  Some are slow but plod along with determination.  Some don’t have an athletic bone in their body but they keep showing up and never stop smiling and trying.  Some are fragile and probably have no business in sports, but have a parent who is convinced that the humiliation will somehow be good for them.  Some are quick and calculating, always making smart moves quickly.  And some just always seem to make something happen.  I tend to think that most of them do life the same way they do softball.

They grow from being little girls to young women.  In the beginning their parents have to haul them to and from practices and games; at the end, they drive themselves.  In the beginning they have nothing but dirt on their faces; at the end, they show up to games with eyeliner and lip gloss.  In the beginning they prance about, hoping to make their parents proud; at the end they prance about, hoping to catch the eye of the groups of teen boys that suddenly take an interest in girls’ softball.

We don’t have many years of this left.  The youngest Sparkette is now in the oldest league of softball, and the next to oldest league in soccer.  It’s flying by.  We’ve watched her grow bigger and stronger.  We’ve seen her figure out how to use those body parts with power and grace, at least most of the time.  For all of the evenings we’ve either shivered or sweated on bleachers, it’s been worth it, and not just for the frequent trips to Dairy Queen.

But there’s not much in life that a trip to DQ doesn’t improve, however.


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