I once tried to be a youth league softball coach.
I was a miserable failure, and it was an utter disaster.
Not all coaches fall into this category, but a lot of them do. There are some great ones out there. If someone could figure out how to clone Northern Little League Coach Randy Morris, they could make a fortune selling the formula.
Randy, with no boys of his own on his teams and no built-in bias, is there for the right reasons. God bless him — and the others like him. I coached my daughter Joy Beth’s softball team in the Phenix City league. I think we won more than we lost, but I can’t remember.
It was a terrible decision on my part to even volunteer as a coach. Sure, I have played softball and baseball, but I approached it like I was coaching the ’27 Yankees instead of a group of 8-, 9- and 10-year-old girls.
One night, the Challengers — probably an appropriate name because the coach was the one who was challenged — were playing a team coached by a friend of mine. It went into extra innings. Great. It was a school night, we were the late game and everyone was getting testy.
The kid umpiring the game called our player out at second base. From my view, she was safe by three steps.
So, I did what any other idiot would do. I charged out of the dugout like a big-league manager.
I made a complete fool of myself that night. Paul Stamp, who was the league president, called me out a couple of days later and they made all the coaches go through a training session. He should have banned me from the park for the rest of the season.
I finished out the year — and never coached again.
If you look around the various Little League parks in Columbus and Phenix City, you will see those who are coaching for the wrong reasons. Every park has them and you can pick them out of a lineup without a program.
Some are there to relive high school glory — or worse yet, recreate glory where there was none. Those are the most dangerous. I should know, because I probably fell into that category.
Some just shouldn’t be around kids. They don’t have the ability or demeanor to teach — and that is what the job requires. You are teaching the mechanics of a game, and hopefully some life skills.
It is an important job.
One of the best players in the NCAA basketball tournament is Miami’s Shane Larkin, the son of former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin. Shane quit baseball at age 6 because his T-ball coach tried to change his batting stance, one in which he emulated Cincinnati great Tony Perez.
That’s the power a youth coach wields.
If you are coaching youth teams in our area — and doing it for the right reasons — thanks. There is a special place in heaven for such volunteers. If you are coaching for the wrong reasons, take a hard look in the mirror. You owe that to yourself and the kids you are coaching.
Contact Chuck Williams, senior editor for content, at firstname.lastname@example.org.