Club Sports for Kids?

My Girl Can Throw These Things Right Over the Plate.

My Girl Can Throw These Things Right Over the Plate. All Day Long.

I hate the idea of competitive club sports for kids. When parents have told me that their 9 year old is traveling out of state to play hockey/soccer/whatever, I have always inwardly rolled my eyes.

Your child, I would think to myself,  is 9.

9!

I was so relieved that this would be a non-issue for us. My girl is not naturally the most talented athlete in the world. She has always played for fun, or she has chased butterflies on the soccer field, as she liked. And the boy, well, let’s just say that team sports haven’t gone real well for a variety of reasons (though he does love soccer).

Then softball happened, and as is so often the case, I discovered that I was being too quick to judge. That happens to me. I can do better, but so often, I don’t.

Anyway, my girl has been playing softball for two years. Last summer, on her first day of practice ever, she announced that she would like to try pitching.

Because I’m awful, I thought, “Sure. You and every other girl. Good luck, sweetie.” But we pulled up some YouTube videos and she started pitching, and then she just didn’t stop pitching.

Every day, practice or not, she’d ask if we’d catch for her. We did, sometimes, and sometimes we couldn’t, so we set up an old tire in front of a fence in our side yard. She pitched every day. She practiced her form. She worked and worked. She was 9 years old.

9!

Now, two years later, she still pitches every day, and she practices hitting and fly balls and grounders and all of it. She loves it. She can’t get enough softball, and all her hard work has turned her into a pretty good little pitcher.

She’s been lucky. In her rec league, she could choose the same wonderful coach for her team both years. Most of the girls were the same both years as well, friends from school,  and they became a sweet, tough little team. There was lots of good competition, and the entire thing was a great experience. We thought rec league was perfect.

And then we moved to a town with only 2 or 3 teams in the recreation league, no consistent coaches, and a far less developed program. And that puts us in a weird position.

I still don’t want to travel out of state. I’d still like her to have time to pursue her other interests. . .other sports,  but also art and music and debate and such. I’m not sure I want the family’s summer to revolve around softball tournaments. I don’t care if she gets a softball scholarship. I don’t need her to be a star.

But I do want her to have consistent, good coaches. I do want her to have a sense of belonging to a team that stays fairly consistent, year after year. I want her to have an outlet for whatever in her drives her to want to throw a ball as fast and hard and accurately as she can, over and over again. I like that drive. And it is so fun to watch.

I still hate the idea of club sports for kids. I might be doing it anyway. Go ahead and judge. I get that, too.

Parenting is hard stuff.

5 thoughts on “Club Sports for Kids?

  1. I feel your pain! My daughter is 12, and like yours, a mostly self taught pitcher. We have done some coaching for her, but mostly it’s practice at home on her own schedule. The problem you highlight with rec leagues is a big one. Since Katie started playing, we have lived in three different cities in two states. The quality of both the league and the coaches has been erratic with some taking girls sports very seriously, and others seemingly more interested in having the girls look cute with their link gloves, bats and braided pony tails! It’s maddening. Unfortunately we’ve found travel ball to be too far a swing in the opposite direction costing upwards of $500 a season with up to 6 days a week playing softball, and tournaments out of town every weekend. There is no simple solution. Good luck with your daughter. I hope she stays motivated and sticks with it. After 8 constant seasons of spring and fall ball, I can see the luster wearing off for Katie and for us!

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  2. Thanks for the insight. It’s terrible that 12 year olds are losing interest in sports because the teams are either too competitive or not competitive enough, isn’t it? I just want things to stay fun for her. I’m not sure the tiny rec league would be fun, but I’m worried that the club will be too much. She is trying out for one that is “modified competitive,” mostly local games, no out of state travel, 6 tournaments per year. It’s still expensive, and a big commitment. It’s possible she won’t make the team, and then our decision will be made for us. Good luck to you and your girl as well. Thanks for reading!

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    • I think the modified competitive sounds great! Good luck and I hope she makes it. Gotta keep it fun and let her grow in the sport at her own pace.

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  3. Quick update: The coach of the “modified competitive” team she tried out for last night told us she would need private pitching lessons on top of the two to three practices per week and that they were definitely going to travel out of state. I’m not sure what was “modified” about that, but it’s too competitive for us, even though she can play just as well as those girls. I’m kind of sad. I had so much hope that we’d find a middle ground.

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