This I Believe

Ray - Horseheads, New York
Entered on May 2, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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Take a Chance with a Kid.

I believe in giving kids a chance. Over the past many years I have had the opportunity to get to know some extraordinary children through my work in youth baseball leagues. There are too many to tell about in this short essay but there are several that stand out.

I’ll start with Gage, a tall lanky kid who hardly ever played sports. He really loved baseball and just wanted to try playing. Practice after practice we worked on his skills with very little progress. He’d routinely drop fly balls and let grounders roll between his legs. One day I asked him to try playing first base. He was apprehensive but I reassured him to just hold out his glove and the rest would fall into place. I had my best shortstop throw him a few balls and low and behold he would open his glove to find the ball, securely in place. That day one of the best first basemen I’ve ever seen was born.

James was the kind of kid that really didn’t put a lot of effort into the sport. He didn’t really care a lot. It took me a while to figure out what his niche would be, and I decided that left field was the ticket. I explained how important a good left fielder was and showed him the right way to play the position. The rest was just fun to watch. He ended up becoming quite a natural outfielder. Not to mention, a great kid who really could care if he wanted to.

The brothers, Brian and Sean were small and not a real hot item in the draft. It didn’t take long to discover that they both learned things almost immediately, and I flooded them with information on techniques and strategies. Brian ended up being good at several positions but was a real stand-out at shortstop. To this day I’ll stand by the fact that he’s one of the best middle infielders I’ve seen in little league. The younger of the two, Sean, learned the right way to lead off and steal bases, he became an unbelievable base-runner. He still is. If he makes it to first base, you might as well mark the run in the book.

And lastly there was Nick. A quiet kid and anything but a natural athlete. Getting the basics down no less becoming a fluid player was a pretty far fetched idea for this boy. That entire season Nick, his Dad and I worked on his skills and understanding of the game and he made great strides. This year he is a powerhouse hitter. I look forward to seeing his first home run.

The point is that kids are amazing people. And thanks to them, I have learned more patience, more humility and I’ve hopefully become a better person. There is a lot going on in those little minds and sometimes all it takes is a little time and perseverance to get through it all. I have found that by showing some faith and giving a kid a chance, you in return shall grow and reap countless rewards, not to mention make some very good friends.

There is nothing quite like giving a kid a chance, this I believe.