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All Heart

8 Jul

Barrow County 7U All-Stars

They went out there and never gave up. Never. Two games played. Two games lost. Two games full of heart.

This was the first year for Barrow County to have a 7 and under All-Star team. The first year for the 7U to place in the district tournament. The first year for the 7U to make it to the Dizzy Dean State Tournament.

No, they didn’t win. In fact, they didn’t score a single run in either game. What they did though was keep playing with all their heart. They kept that heart in the pouring rain and after a two-hour mid-game rain delay where they had their concession stand hot dogs and french fries passed to them through the dugout fence. They kept that heart as their side of the board still glowed “0” inning after inning. Diving for catches, hustling for hits to outfield, swinging away, earning each base they ran or slid to claim. In the end, Nate didn’t cry because the team lost. He cried at dinner, hours after the game, because “I don’t want my season to be over” and “I won’t get to see my friends for a long time now.”

I’m beyond proud of these boys. They had so much fun playing the sport they love and hanging out as a team. They became that team within days after playing against each other in the regular spring season. Watching them on and off the field, you would never think they were ever opponents. They swam and laughed together, hunted slugs together until way past their bedtime, enjoyed a funny movie together, ate meal after meal together … On the field, they cheered each other on during the games and always showed support and concern for each other.

Nate can’t tie his shoes. He needs help cutting his steak. He can’t reach the hotel sink to brush his teeth. He can, however, track a hit baseball in the air and know exactly how to move to make the catch. They all know what they need to do to try to stay on that dirt for just one inning more. These little boys are so remarkable. Sure, they will lose games – but I have a feeling they will never lose their heart.

He Caught That

He Caught That?!

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All-Stars for Sure

27 Jun

They are little boys. Most of them are 7 years old. They like to pack their mouths with bubble gum and run through the mud. They make up nicknames for each other and knock hats off heads. They wear their sports drink mustaches and red dirt-coated skin with pride. They are a baseball team.

These past few weeks of summer break for Nate have been filled (happily) with baseball. The Barrow County 7U All-Stars have been practicing so hard and all that teamwork paid off for them during the Dizzy Dean Regional Tournament. They won three games and placed third and are now on their way to the State Tournament.

Watching them out there was something to see. They are little boys but they have so much courage, heart and skill that I find myself forgetting how little they are.

For some, their bat bags are bigger than they are. Some need help tying their shoes. A few saw a bird in the outfield and chased it before the inning started. Another player swatted a bee with his bat before he went for his swing at the plate. Some pounded their protective cups with their fist as they waited for batters to swing. A few escaped the dugout to get a kiss and praise from mommy or daddy. At the end of the games, they waited in hope that their name would be called for the treat bag given out for good dugout behavior or teamwork. I saw one drop his shoulders and sigh when his name wasn’t called. (Maybe next time, buddy.)

Little boys, right? But then there is so much more to these young players.

When an injured player was down on the dirt, they ran to that player and took a knee to make sure he was ok. They’ve been playing each game for a teammate who had to miss the tournament for health reasons – shouting his name after each team huddle. (We are so happy to know he is feeling better now.) They cheered each other on so adorably during the games – one even decided one thumbs-up wasn’t good enough so he dropped his glove and gave his teammate double thumbs for a great catch. They make split second actions through all the voices cheering for them or the other team. They carry on when that action didn’t pay off or the play didn’t work out like they imagined in their head. (The next play rocked, by the way.) They looked the other team’s players up and down to size them up. Sometimes, I saw them talking to each other at the base. Chatting about tv shows they like? Right.

Shaking it off. Feeling the joy. Dealing with the heartache of a hard-fought loss. Staying a team. Sliding at Home after “good game” high fives were exchanged. Taking the W or L and thinking about how they can’t wait to play the next game. These little boys have taught me so much.

Barrow County 7U All-Stars

Barrow County 7U All-Stars

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