Two nights a week. One weekend day. Five hours total. From January through early March this is the baseball practice schedule.
Practice on his own. From conditioning, to fielding balls, to practicing his swing. All practice that occurs on the off-hours is self-directed and initiated by Coco.
Games start in March. Run through the middle of July. Practice will still be two nights a week, four hours total. Games will occur as much as 14 out of 18 weekends. Saturdays and Sundays. Sometimes Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
This year, for tournaments, we will travel to Arizona, and to a three-hour one direction destination to play ball. On tournament weekends there will be a minimum of three games over two days. The possibility for as many as seven in two days. Yes, we are a youth baseball family.
Not everyone understands, nor agrees with, the life we choose to live. Sometimes it simply takes understanding and perspective. Two summers ago a good friend of mine asked me what the odds are of Coco making it to the big leagues. She said, pretty good right, like a 25% chance?
I laughed. Knowing good and well that the odds are so very slim. My response, no, his odds are nowhere near that. She then asked, then he is likely to get a scholarship for college?
I tried not to laugh again, yet I think a chuckle did sneak from the corner of my mouth. Once again my answer was no. I think I shared a statistic with her that I once saw that read about 4% of all High School boys who play baseball go on to receive a baseball scholarship to a Division I college. Even less move on to play MLB baseball. On TV. For serious money.
After hearing my answers my friend looked at me and said, “Then why do it?”
I didn’t have to sit and think, ‘Why do we do this? What is the point? What is our motivation?’ I knew right away what my answer was.
We do this because, at this point in time, it is Coco’s passion. HIS dream.
My son, Coco, has told me since he was 2 1/2 that he is going to be a MLB player someday. Will he? I have no idea. Do I think the odds are highly stacked against him? Yes I do. However, you know what, Coco is now 12 and he continues to tell me that he will someday be a MLB player. It’s all he’s ever really wanted to be.
He also tells me that he plans to play baseball in college, on a scholarship, at either Vanderbilt or TCU. Again, lofty goals. And, yes, the odds are still highly stacked against him.
Before you say, “This is all so unrealistic. Why do you feed something so absurd? So out of reach?” Let me share that Coco is equally as intelligent as he is athletic. My Coco loves about six things in life, in this order. God, Jesus, his Family, Sports, Academics and a few friends. Although the sports and academics seem to switch roles at different points in life.
Coco’s focus on academics is very important. Not only to us, his parents, but also to him. He realizes that a Plan B is necessary. That the odds are stacked against him. However, you know what he also realizes? His parents will support him in HIS dream, for as long as it is HIS dream.
Coco and I read books about Derek Jeter, together. Know what Jeter always says? “My parents believed in my dream, and that made all the difference.” Think about your child’s dream. It may not be Coco’s lofty goal, yet it is your child’s dream, so you believe in it, right? If you don’t, you should. We believe in Coco’s. Again, as long as it is HIS dream. I tell Coco all the time that I LOVE watching him play baseball. Know what else I tell him? That if his passion became chess I would LOVE watching him play and compete in chess. His dream is his own. Not something pushed by us, his parents.
Just yesterday yet another person provided their thoughts on the matter. His words, “…Coco isn’t going to make a living playing baseball either.” You know what, he may be right. However, does that mean we shouldn’t support and believe in Coco’s dream? If we, his parents, cannot support and believe in him and his dream then who can? Who will?
We don’t dedicate the time, energy, effort, and money because it is something we want for our son. No, we dedicate all these things because it is what he wants for himself. The moment that changes, our focus changes too. That’s what good parents do. They love, support, and believe in their children, no matter if the odds are stacked against them or not.
Whether Coco gets a baseball scholarship or attends community college, whether he plays in the MLB or becomes an architect, doesn’t matter to me. All that matters is Coco feels loved, supported, and believed in. Shouldn’t that be all of our goals as parents?
Want to know the best part? Baseball is the avenue, however, Coco is learning about a lot more than just baseball. He is learning that team is more important than self. He is learning to respect those that make the decisions, as they are not his to make. Coco is learning that every team needs a leader, and, at times, he chooses to be just that. He is learning that his reason for playing is a lot bigger than him. He doesn’t play for himself. Rather, he plays for Him. Coco is learning that the way in which he chooses to play makes a difference – to him and to his team. Coco is also learning that failure is a part of baseball. You must learn to deal with failure if you wish to be successful – in baseball and in life. Lessons abound in baseball that can be carried over to all parts of life.
May Coco always feel our love, support, and belief. Regardless of where HIS dreams take him.