An early lesson in life

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 26, 2006

This weekend I traveled to Smithfield, Virginia to watch my little sister play in a softball tournament.

Casey plays for an under-14 tournament team that is based in Chesapeake.

This is her first year with this team, the Lady Thunder, after playing with the Cyclones for several years.


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The choice to switch teams was not an easy one for her.

Her old team was moving up the next age division and her birthday falls in January, which meant she could move up too.

Her cousin plays on the Cyclones, so switching teams would mean not playing with Jennifer.

All in all, Casey made the right choice and here’s why.

I saw her old team play on several occasions and some games it was like watching a soap opera.

There were several &uot;drama&uot; queens and at least one player quit because she weren’t playing the position they wanted.

There were cliques within the team and the players just didn’t have the concept of &uot;team&uot; down.

The main reason I think she made the right choice is the coach.

Her old coach yelled at the girls when they made an error.

It’s not enough that they made an error, which I imagine the player is already beating herself up over.

Having the coach yell at you from the sidelines is not going to change the play that just happened.

He also spent a considerable amount of time after the game going over what happened.

We once waited at least half an hour for him to finish his post-game rundown.

These are 11, 12 and 13 year old girls.

After two minutes, they tune you out.

I’m not saying this just because it’s my little sister.

I have been a player, I have been a coach, and now as a sports writer I have seen all sides of coaching.

I think I’m safe in saying that the coaches who spend most of their times yelling instead of coaching don’t have the better teams.

Which leads me to Casey’s new team.

I was very impressed with her new coach.

When the pitcher walked four players, he told her not to beat herself up over it.

When the team lost by a run, the coach told the girls he made mistakes that he would have to improve on for the next game.

I don’t often hear coaches say the mistakes were theirs.

The Lady Thunder lost their second game on Saturday, their first loss in six games.

In the huddle afterwards the coach told his players that this meant they were human.

That’s a good lesson for kids to learn, but one I don’t hear stressed very often.

Coaching and playing youth sports is a wonderful opportunity for both adults and youth.

It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that these are kids.

We’re not talking about college athletes or paid professionals, we’re talking about kids.

Kids are going to make mistakes.

Part of coaching is teaching them that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.

Most kids that play recreation sports are not going to make the pros.

It’s important for coaches, and parents, to remember that.

The bigger lessons are learning its okay to make mistakes, how to work with a team, and that not everyone can be the star.

Casey is enjoying her new team and I have to say, I am too.

She’s only 13 years old, but she’s already showed she can make good decisions.

Heather Odom can be reached at