T-ball: Where future homerun hitters are born
July 18. 2013 9:15AM
All’s good in the world of T-ball.
Because no score is kept.
And there’s no bench time for anyone in this program.
No matter how many outs there may be.
And unless a batter is tagged out, thrown out or their pop fly is caught, every future “Little Leaguer” runs the bases – every inning – all the way around to home plate.
The weekly games – organized by the Brandon Valley Youth Softball Association – are structured to introduce the world of softball/baseball to 4- and 5-year-old boys and girls.
Most nights, a T-ball game is a two- to three-inning affair. Despite the summer evening’s warm temperatures and blinding, sunny skies, the last game of the season stretches to three innings.
“After two innings, their attention span isn’t very good,” says coach-dad Nick Jensen, whose son Cooper, plays for the orange team, also recognized as Koth Electric.
In the opposing dugout of the early game is a mixture of energy-filled boys and girls.
They’re known as the yellow team – or more officially, Little Step Family Child Care.
At the T-ball level, parent-coaches do their best to teach the youngsters the basics of the game: how to throw and catch the ball, and of course, hit.
“Basically, we have them throw it to first base every time,” Jensen explains. “But the biggest struggle is to keep them in their area. Sometimes you have to draw lines because they all want a chance at it (fielding the ball).”
Coach Travis Thompson, who’s assisted by Jensen, is a first-year T-ball coach. He volunteered for the job when it was decided daughter Jayla would give the game an organized try for the first time.
“It’s been great,” Thompson says minutes before the team’s season-ending game. “The kids have listened great – except mine,” he jokes.
Unlike Coach Thompson, Matt Reese is a veteran when it comes to coaching T-ball.
“This is my third year with T-ball,” he said, “and overall, fifth.”
It’s his string of daughters that keep him coming back to the Aspen Park diamonds year after year.
“It’s such a positive experience,” he said. “And to watch the kids get better every single week and cheer for each other is so much fun.”
Despite the struggles of keeping the kids tuned into their assigned roles, Jensen said he wouldn’t trade the experience for time in the bleachers.
“It’s really been a joy,” he said. “To be here and involved with the children is so much fun. And it’s fun to see them progress from not knowing anything to today.”
At the conclusion of the “scoreless” final-game-of-the-T-ball-season, the players from the orange and yellow teams line up and march toward the pitcher’s mound for one last game ritual: acknowledging the game by slapping their opponents hands.
But the rituals aren’t over yet for the Koth Electric clan. Once the team cordials are done, they gather in a circle, stacking their hands one on top of another for one final team cheer.
Then, it’s time for treats. Tonight, it’s a pack of Oreo’s and a Go-Gurt brought by one of the player’s moms. Then it’s time for the kids to gather their treats, gloves and water bottles from the dugout, because it’s time for the red team to take up occupancy - thus ending the T-ball season for the yellow and orange teams – and the moms and dads who coach and cheer.