SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Kind of Cool Father-Daughter Moment

I spent most of yesterday at a softball tournament appropriately called the "backbreaker", because a) the 12 year-old girls play 3 games in one day and b) the parents sit on stands (and not in chairs with backs on them). We got a very early start because the girls' first game was at 9 in the morning, and the fields were about a half hour from our house. This was the first tournament for the team that my daughter is on, and, needless to say, the team was eager to see what it could do.

The girls lost every game but acquitted themselves well -- you could tell from various episodes that the team has talent, it was just that they just formed about 2 weeks ago and hadn't had the game experience or the repetition of some of the other teams, which, we learned, had been playing together for a while.

My approach to these games is to be a pretty demure parent and fan. I don't give my daughter instruction about the physical aspects of the game -- how to throw, how to hit -- but we do talk about various situations -- rundowns, what to do with runners on first and second, basic situations. And that only occurs when were in the house. As a fan, I cheer good plays but refrain from yelling out to my daughter (except to cheer a good play on occasion). I and the other parents cheered the entire team, and that was fun.

I sat far enough from the dugout that you couldn't see much except for the on-deck batter taking practice swings and players entering and leaving the dugout. Most, if not all, of the girls don't look for their parents, and my daughter was no exception. The girls were all business. Anyway. . .

My daughter came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the middle of the second game, which was the closest game they played. As a parent, I was hoping and praying that she would get a hit and continue the inning, and she delivered with a single up the middle. That led to a bigger inning, and my daughter scored a run. She ran into the dugout and, instead of heading straight in, she paused in the area where the on-deck batter would stand. She caught my eye, and instinctively I tugged on my hat and tipped it every so slightly, with a smile on my face. The grin that returned was great, showing a combination of poise and self-confidence that any parent is looking to establish in a pre-teenaged daughter.

There was a breeze, the temperature was in the mid-70's, and a group of young girls came together as a team. It was fun to watch.