I’ve worn many baseball hats over the past few years – IAB Secretary General, IAB board member, town coordinator, coach, umpire – but none has given me more pleasure than the most recent – Under 16 Israel National Team Mom.
We landed from our trip to the PONY Tournament in Prague at 4:00 this morning, with the silver medal trophy in tow. After getting a little sleep, it’s now time to share the 13 reasons that this hat was a particularly comfortable one, and here they are (in alphabetical order): Adam, Assaf, David, Ely, Ethan, Hadar, Jacob, Michael, Noam, Omri, Yoav H., Yoav M. and Yotam.
These are the 13 members of the U16 Israel National team that I’m bursting with pride to be associated with. Not only are they incredible ball players with guts and determination, they’re also respectful, considerate, and courteous. I often had to remind myself that they are only 15 and 16-years-old because they’re mature beyond their years. They’ve all clearly been raised well by great parents. On the baseball field, they are committed, determined and exceptionally talented. They’ve been coached to be the best players they can be, not accept failure, push through disappointment, practice until they can’t stand any more. But their coaching doesn’t end there: They’re also coached to be the outstanding people they are; to take responsibility for themselves and their team; and to behave the way representatives of the State of Israel should when they are serving as ambassadors of our country. Bravo parents; bravo coaches!!
Being team mom isn’t a bed of roses: It involves running around from Czech supermarket to supermarket, with no local language, trying to find essentials for the team (e.g., a pot – it was Pesach); it includes being mooned by team members on a Prague highway and having no recourse whatsoever (!); it involves hearing the very gory details (including photographic evidence) of pranks the guys play on each other after the games (TMI!); it involves constantly having to nag kids to take food to the field, so they won’t starve because it’s Pesach; it involves being photo-bombed by a large group of players, while taking a post-game picture with my son; and more.
But here’s where it’s all so very worthwhile:
When the players do something great on the field and come over and make sure I saw it. (I never miss a second.)
When a player sends me a note in the middle of the tournament saying that “everything has been great and a lot has to do with you,”… instant lump in throat!
When a player says: “We need to count how many times Margo says ‘No thanks, it’s OK’.” (The boys offer to help me with so much so often that I really constantly had to say it.)
When, during an exchange of 16-year-old off-color banter, a player says to my son: “I would start cursing your mother now if she wasn’t so awesome.”…Ego explosion!
When dinners with some of the boys at Chabad, instead of being eat-and-run affairs, turn into long and interesting chats about everything and anything, and I have to remind myself again that these smart, mature kids are 15!
When every car trip ends with “thank you”s, and every effort I make is acknowledged and appreciated.
When a player, after asking a particularly stupid question in the car, reminds me how much I like him and as such, please not to put the incident forward for Kangaroo Court.
When my own son gracefully deals with the fact that Team Mom is his real mother, and doesn’t cringe at the fact.
And mainly, when they all go out there, play like superstars wearing Team Israel jerseys, support each other from the dug-out loudly and proudly; and do it all with poise and respect for the game, their opponents, their coaches and each other.
To my 13 baseball “sons”, besides your real parents, I am your biggest fan. You warm my heart. I so look forward to seeing you all take your next steps both on and off the baseball field, and to the successes you will surely achieve. To each and every one of you, thanks for being so awesome and keep it up.
See you at practice!