Team Player

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”  Romans 8:28

Recently, Caleb and I tasked ourselves with a mission: give every girl on our softball team a meaningful, personal award at the end of the season. We sat down and went over every single sweet girl in our heads, thinking of all they had accomplished during the last several months (and everything they’ve put us through). It was really fun and we had some good laughs.

In a few hours, we will play our final game of the year against an undefeated team, and I can’t help but remember these awards as I try to assign positions for tonight. How can I maximize the effect of each girl’s strengths and talents against such tough competition?

There’s this one girl on my team who has such a gun on her that we gave her “The Iron Arm” award. She’s an excellent 3rd baseman, she’s been great at 2nd a few times as well–but from the bottom of her heart she wants to play pitcher. Her tendency to overthrow makes me question whether or not that would actually be the right spot for her. She’s dead-on from third to first–I need her there. And when she is ready, I will just delight in seeing this girl all decked out in catcher’s gear.

Another girl has made great, great, strides since last year in the throwing department. She’s tall and stretchy and left-handed. First baseman? I hope so, one day soon. I’ve been trying to stick her in that very position every so often so that she’ll learn it and love it; however, in order for her to play first base, I have to make sure there’s someone in right field who’s quick and aware, to back her up. A couple of times I’ve asked our normal first baseman to take the job. That girl is pretty much an all-star at any infield position and we lean pretty heavily on her during games. She must not have totally understood why we would put her in right field, of all places, but she did it with a good attitude and played like a champ.

One girl is quiet and patient and (sadly and admittedly), easy to overlook, because she never complains. I had her in the dugout with me towards the beginning of the season and found out what a quick and willing (and brilliant) organizer she is: she had gotten her hands on the batting line-up and set to work putting all the helmets and bats in order. Now, whenever she’s in the dugout, she makes that her mission, and even goes so far as to get everyone’s drink ready for when they come back in the dugout. Instead of complaining about her time on the bench, she makes the most of it by caring for her teammates. I don’t know if she or even the other girls realize what a helpful and important thing she’s doing, but I notice, and it just warms my heart.

Mia has been in the mother of all slumps since about game 3. No matter what she does, she cannot get on base and it’s discouraging her to the point that her performance in the field is being affected. She wants so badly to hit like our team’s Babe Ruth(ie), and, (against our advisement) has tweaked her batting stance to mimic this kid; but it’s clearly not working for her.

We have played teams that hit consistently into the outfield. I want our fastest runners out there in those games. Other teams send the ball tinking straight to the pitcher or to shortstop; we need the girls with cat-like reflexes playing at those spots.

I’m not comparing myself, little league softball coach, to God, but I can’t help but think of God as the ultimate game-planner. As a coach, I don’t always benefit my team when I try to tell them what to do. My best-laid plans often bomb miserably, and unforeseen factors (such as unexpected 100+ degree heat, or a jank pitching machine) can have a negative impact on a game that should have been “in the bag”. But God–He’s such a mastermind arranger. He’s got it all under control even when we don’t get it at all.

We don’t understand why bad things happen to good people, or why good things happen to bad people.

We want to play one position when our strengths and weaknesses are better suited for something totally different.

We wonder why certain people are placed to play alongside of us.

We want to be able to do what the other people are doing, but God sees a different path for us.

Some of us might be first-basers for life.

Some might be called upon to play back-up from time to time.

We all wind up on the bench at some point.

We get aggravated when so-and-so makes a mistake and costs us a run, but we turn around and do the same thing minutes later.

Nothing suprises God–He plans and adjusts and arranges accordingly.

We whine and complain and question, but there’s a method to the madness, which only seems like madness to us because we’re not always able to see the bigger picture, to take everything into account. We need breaks, we need fresh perspectives, and we need attitude adjustments. We have to be ready–because we’re up against some heavy hitters.

We work together to play our best–but to ensure a win, we just have to listen to our coach.

And to the wonderful parents whose wonderful daughters we have had the privilege of working with this year: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Because not one game or practice goes by that I don’t learn something from these girls.

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About Toni

Mom. Wife. Artist. I take care of the kids and pretend to clean sometimes. I can cook spagetti and I have never been arrested. View all posts by Toni

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