Baseball practice was pretty interesting on Tuesday. We played a horrible game on Monday, losing 12-0 in 6 innings after competing hard on Saturday and taking one of the teams that usually finishes in the top 3 of the conference to extra innings, losing 4-3 in 11. So, I tried to challenge our captains to lead a little stronger and asked a couple JV guys to stick around and practice defense toward the end of practice. I typed out a practice plan, explained it to the captains, and stayed out of the way for the most part - watching and making sure things were going as expected - which they were, for the most part. I even donned the 'tools of ignorance' toward the end of practice since one of our catchers was sick and the other was heading to an independent study class.
I care, right? That's why I do things. I put almost everything I have into this part-time job coaching high school baseball. When we lose, I lose sleep. When we win, I win because I'm excited for the success the boys can feel. I want nothing more than for the 15 (or whatever number) boys we have each year to experience what being a part of a team that accomplishes something is all about.
So, when something happens - I feel it. Period. On Tuesday, nearing the end of practice, one of our junior outfielders (a JV player I had asked to stick around) stopped hard after rounding second base and broke a bone in his lower leg. I ran out to him and he was in pain. I grabbed his hand and told him to breath. My assistant coach called our trainer and then the player's mom. Many of our boys helped make sure that his stuff was all together. And a number of other players either ran to try to find some more help, or stood at specific locations to help direct the car that was coming to pick up our injured player.
Once we got him into a vehicle and on the way to a medical center, I walked toward the mound to take a moment - maybe thank God quickly for giving me the experience, energy, and serenity to deal with the situation. I didn't make it very far before squatting down and crying. All the emotion I had from holding the young man's hand came out. I eventually continued walking off the field, behind the backstop, and toward the tractor in our shed. I dragged the field and moved on. Our team was very caring in its response to such a dramatic event, and I am proud of how everyone helped and CARED.
I'm not sure what will happen with the rest of our week, our varsity season, or even with the rest of these boys' careers. I do know that this one episode, this one accident, has re-affirmed why I do things. Sure, I enjoy baseball, but I coach because I care. And today, I hurt.