Tag Archives: Baseball

Pick an after school activity and stick with it

[I wrote this post at the end of June, but I didn’t get around to posting it at the time. I suppose it’s fortuitous because as the year starts and parents start looking for activities for their kids, I would like to think that this will resonate more right now.]

The dance recital

My daughter (middle, green dress) in her dance recital

June 22, 2014: Last night I watched my 10-year-old daughter perform in her fifth annual dance recital and she was sensational, as were all the other dancers. Last week I watched my son playing in the championship game of his baseball league and he’s getting ready to travel to Italy to play on the Israel National baseball team.

As I sat last night and watched the girls from 12th grade bidding farewell to the dance studio where some of them had danced for 14 years, and had performed magnificently last night, one thing became clear to me: Kids must carefully choose an after-school activity when they are young and stick to it for as long as they can because it’s a precious gift that will shape and change their lives in a way that no school subject can.

As someone who is deeply involved in Israel baseball, and having been through many years of dance with my daughter, I have identified two types of participants: There are what I call the “testers”, kids who float from activity to activity each year, trying each one out like they are small dishes on a tasting menu in a restaurant. They never develop any real skill or ability. Instead of sticking with it, they give up and move onto the next activity without a thought. Sadly, often their parents encourage this flitting, and don’t see the disservice they are doing in not encouraging their children to keep going until they reach a level of expertise that the kids (and their parents) will be proud of.

baseball pitching

My son pitching on the Israel National baseball team

Then there are the “perseverers”. These are the kids who find something they enjoy and instead of just getting a taste, they joyfully gorge themselves on the entire meal and are the more fulfilled for it. These kids are opening up new worlds for themselves. Whether it’s baseball or dancing or karate or chess, these kids learn so much and blossom into human beings who exist on a level above the mundane.

I see the dancers who, even at a young age, realize that the hours and hours of extra rehearsal pay off in professional-looking shows that wow audiences. When the older dancers help the younger girls with their make-up and costumes, even though they also have to make sure they are ready for their own dances, they understand the value of leadership and become role models for the young girls to look up to. And the younger girls in turn strive to become those older, more responsible dancers.

I watch the baseball players, who have committed themselves to what started as an after school activity, coming out virtually on a daily basis to practice, to hone their skills, to become better players and to help each other succeed. They’ve developed their own community of players who understand the value of hard work, discipline, and commitment. Their coaches develop not only their sports skills but also instil in them the values of team work, responsibility and sportsmanship. This dedication not only turns them into outstanding sports-people, but it sets them up for life as conscientious young people who understand the value of hard work, commitment and being a good person.

While after school activities (unfortunately) aren’t mandatory, I feel militant about the need for every child to make this commitment because I’ve seen from up close how much value this seemingly innocuous choice can have. So pick an activity, stick with it, be the best you can be. These will be some of the best days of your lives, these memories will last forever, and you will be a better person for it.

 

Related articles:

14 Reasons Your Parents Are Lucky That You Are A DANCER!!

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Filed under Baseball, Children

Take me out to the (Israeli) ball game

If you had told me three years ago, that I, a born and bred in South African, was soon to metamorphose into a die-hard baseball fan living in Israel, I would have laughed. But three seasons after my 10-year-old son started playing baseball in our small town in the Sharon region, I’m a huge fan. Not of the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, or the LA Dodgers (and I actually had to Google that!), but of the Tel Mond Nationals.

Nationals? Yes, you read right. An enterprising father/coach organized sponsorship from the “mother” team in Washington and the local boys are making their big brothers on the other side of the ocean proud. On Friday June 19 they play the Ra’anana Jumbo Pretzels (actual name) in the championship game of the regional juvenile league playoffs.

I love it that this true-blue American sport is being played all over Israel with huge enthusiasm. In their classic baseball pants, helmets, batting gloves, baseball mitts and Nationals team shirts, the boys play on our weedy, sandy, uneven field, where horses, donkeys and goats frequently roam free, bringing cricket in the times of the Raj to mind.

My son on third base

My son on third base

We’re a stalwart group of parents – Israelis, English, South Africans, and even Americans – who support the team, home or away, often arguing about baseball’s tenuous connection to the British pastime of rounders and constantly complaining about the intense heat (Raj again?). We heckle and cheer and enjoy every minute of watching the kids playing their hearts out every Friday afternoon.

I have to give credit to The Israel Association of Baseball (IAB), which has been active since 1986 in promoting and developing baseball in Israel and ensuring that the rule book is adhered to in good Anglo-Saxon fashion.

Now, not only is my half-South African son on his way to becoming a pitcher, and can actually hit that little, painfully hard ball with that narrow sliver of ash, but I am also proud that I have learned about RBIs, line drives, pop-ups, foul balls and strike zones so as not to embarrass my American-born husband too much.

Go Nationals and go Israeli baseball.

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Filed under Baseball, Uncategorized