The Softball Field, My Home
I love fall, but it has nothing to do with the season.
It has to do with “home.”
I love the smell of fall.
I love how the temperature cools in the evening.
I love the relaxed nature of fall.
I love being near softball fields in the fall.
As a literacy coach, I live and breathe in the world of academics. I’ve always yearned to learn. It motivates me. It excites me.
But, looking back on my high school years, there’s one context that gives me a feeling like no other. The softball field.
As I was reflecting with a friend the other day, I came to realize the magnitude that context played in my life. I always knew my high school softball coach was a pivotal figure in my life. He was a coach. A mentor. And, in some ways, a father.
Why? Because he and that softball field was my safe place.
It was my only safe place.
He was that father figure that said “I am proud of you.”
He was that father figured that passionately cared for me and demanded that I became a better player and a better person.
And, the context he created on that field became my home.
A home where I wasn’t missing a male presence.
A home where I didn’t have to battle emotional abuse.
A home where I didn’t feel isolated and alone.
A home where I was unconditionally accepted.
A home where I could just “be.” Just be me with no pressure. Such freedom came with that.
A home where I was accepted for the value I brought to the world and forgiven for the faults that I had.
I have a great passion for the game of softball and I miss it like crazy. I love the thrill of throwing a runner out as the catcher of the team. I love the thrill of outrunning a throw from the opposing catcher. I love the quickness and agility needed to bunt a ball and get on base.
But, what I miss more is that very temporary “home.” That feeling.
So, coaches, never, ever doubt the role you play. It is immeasurable and invaluable part of the high school experience.
You are a coach. A mentor. A dad.
You are someone’s safe place.