Posts Tagged "pandas"

A tough night for the Pandas

I was going to write, “There is no joy in Panda-ville” but that’s not really true. It is true that the Panda’s ride is over. We lost. We lost big. I think the final score was 8-2. It was not pretty. The other team was a finely oiled machine. Very intense. Very determined to beat us – the only team that beat them all season. And beat us they did. We never really found our mojo.

But…

the “no joy in Panda-ville” didn’t seem to fit.

If you look at the faces after the game (with their “original Panda cookies”), and you had to guess the outcome of the game, it would be hard to tell that we lost. Yes – they were VERY disappointed. They wanted to play in the championship on Saturday. They had worked so hard.

It is a learning league. It’s about learning skills. Learning good sportsmanship. Learning that sometimes things don’t go your way and you lose. But it’s also about learning to do your best. About keeping your head high. About congratulating your opponent. (About having a cookie and moving on.)

Plus – we won the After Game Relay Race. A perfect record. 12-0. We are the fastest girls team in 3/4th grade softball! So we ended on a high note.

Here’s to the mighty Pandas – you brought me such joy.

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A whole new respect…

I had no idea.

Most of today I spent on logistics of whether or not to cancel a playoff game because of the weather. I had a glimmer of what Superintendents of schools must go through about when to cancel school for a snow day. It is not fun!

I won’t bore you with all the details – but there were many. The high level is there are many different factions involved in the decision. The final championship game is on Saturday – so our game has to be played either Thu or Fri to determine who is playing in the finals on Saturday.

There were no open fields though on Thu or Fri with all the other playoff games, adult leagues, etc. (Don’t get me started about trying to barter with a high school coach for a field he had reserved for a practice – which I thought should be trumped by a playoff game – to no avail.)

We did have to cancel tonight’s game. The rain stopped but the mucky infield was unplayable. We finally found a new field, found a time, and notified everyone. Then I got word that two of my best players couldn’t make tomorrow’s game. Uggh! We are playing a team that has only lost one game all season (to us!) and to be without two of our stars was a pretty big hole. (We only have 11 on the team.)

I wasn’t going to go down without a fight though. I contacted the families and found out that it was just logistics and not a family event etc., that was going to prevent them from coming. So I’m going to be able to pick them up and get them there so we should have the full roster.

Ahhh. Now all we have to do is play! (And hopefully everyone can find the field that is tucked away through a path at the top of a hill.)

This experience has given me a whole new respect for all the coaches and parent volunteers who were there for me for all those years for girl scouts, religious ed, softball, field hockey, basketball, chorus, community theater, chaperones for school events and more.

So to all the amazing people out there who give of their time – especially for all the “behind the scenes” details that I never knew existed – a long overdue THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU – and Go Pandas!

Like this? Click here to SUBSCRIBE to this blog and get these posts delivered right to your email box. It’s nice to share too – Like, Tweet, Share with a friend. Thanks! – Erin


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“We don’t play with Barbie dolls…”

We don’t play with Barbie dolls… we just play with bats and balls.
We don’t wear no mini skirts…we just wear our softball shirts.
We don’t paint our nails bright red…we just play softball instead.

–Disco Panda cheer

Tonight, my softball team, The Disco Pandas, is in the playoffs. I am a first-time coach for my daughter’s 3 & 4th grade softball team. It has been an amazing season.

I was floored the first time I heard the above cheer coming from the dugout. It gave me hope that little girls do indeed want to do more than play with dolls. These girls are awesome. They are kind. They cheer each other on. They are brave. They are tough. They want to win.

My philosophy is that everyone gets to play the infield. I didn’t relegate the 3rd graders to Right Field. Anyone who wanted to try pitching, got to pitch. Star infielders who wanted to be catcher (which basically would take them out of the plays) got to catch.

This sometimes raised some eyebrows among the parents – but it’s about the girls. It’s about building confidence.

My personal highlight was when my daughter asked if she could pitch in the middle of the season, just before the start of a game.

She had never pitched. Had never practiced pitching. I wasn’t sure if she could even reach the plate from the pitcher’s mound. But more than any of that, it was so out of character for her. She’s a worrier. She gets nervous trying anything new. Anytime we asked her if she wanted to try something (basketball, piano, softball) she said, “No.” But we just wanted to help her try new things and see what she liked. We signed her up anyway – and she ended up loving them – after some tearful, resistant beginnings.

So seeing her bright eyes and big smile, asking to pitch, made me well-up. I was so proud of her to be finding her confidence.

I had her throw me a few balls from the sidelines and it looked like she would be able to reach and I said, “Wow – you’re doing great. Sure. You can pitch.”

She walked out to the mound, with her head high, full of optimism. I was petrified for her.

She threw a couple balls (way out of the strike zone) and then her first strike. Very cool. Then she struck out the batter. Then another. The third batter got a hit and her team backed her up and made the play. 1-2-3 inning for Miss Lily.

One of life’s great moments.

There are certain moments in your life that stay with you – turning points. I think this was one of those moments for her. Finding the courage to try something new and going for it. I honestly don’t remember if we won that game or not – but I will never forget her running off the mound with a big smile – and a new sense of confidence. Who knows where this moment will help take her in life? I have noticed a new spring in her step.

When these girls started the season, many didn’t know where Left Field was and had to be reminded not to toss their glove up in the air during the game. They have come a long way. We won 4, tied 4, and lost 2 games. (And we have never lost the After Game Relay Race – which we are quite proud of!) More than anything else, these girls have all improved – both as softball players and more importantly, as people.

It’s single elimination for the playoffs – so tonight could be our last game. But it has been a real joy working with these young girls. I am so proud of my Pandas. Wish us luck!

Video – Disco Pandas Go Jump in a Lake (One EXTREMELY hot afternoon, we were playing an away game and after the game we discovered a lake behind the ball field. We let the girls jump in – in their uniforms! Go Disco Pandas!)

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Lessons for new graduates from The Disco Pandas

I haven’t had a baseball mitt in 35 years – so I’m borrowing my son’s. I am a new coach for my daughter’s softball team.

I was nervous to try my hand at coaching. Not about the coaching but about the parents. People take this all VERY seriously. It’s a little intimidating. Plus, there are very few women coaches – 2 to be exact – even though it is an all girls league. But, I thought I’d give it a try.

I’m loving it.

My team, “The Disco Pandas”, is off to a great start. (If you can’t tell, we let the girls choose the name.) We’re (surprisingly) undefeated – with 4 games under our belt.

I get questions like, “Which one is left field?” and “Where do I stand?” (at home plate.)

One girl, trying out playing 2nd base for the first time, asked me if she was supposed to have tagged the runner. The ball had been hit to the pitcher and was nowhere near her. I said, “You have to have the ball to tag someone.”

She said, “Oh…now I get it!”

It reminds me of the first time I played golf. I hit a great drive my first time up and was feeling proud of myself. Only to be deflated moments later when I took out a tee for my second shot on the fairway and was informed that you can only use a tee on your first shot.

It is very humbling to try something for the first time.

Back to the “Pandas.”

Last week, we were playing a very intense team from another town. (Again these are 9 and 10 year olds – so I am still somewhat baffled about what is fueling the intensity of these games.) I don’t believe in the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality or not keeping score – but it shouldn’t have to be cutthroat either.

Success for me is having the girls support each other and cheer each other on, and to get everyone playing. I want them to try all the positions, to improve and gain confidence, and hopefully to learn which one is left field and which side of the plate to stand on.

Speaking of home plate, at last week’s game one of my youngest and smallest players, who had never come close to hitting the ball during practice, was up to bat with bases loaded and two outs.

Her first swing was in the dirt (and looked a lot like my golf swing). The next swing was way over her head. The crowd was cheering and shouting and it would have made the most seasoned of players, nervous. I can’t even imagine what was going through her head.

She stood in there. Unflappable.

It reminds me of the many young people who are graduating and going off and trying things for the first time. Being nervous. Being afraid. Having no idea what to do.

My advice would be that we could all learn a few things from my young Panda at the plate. She stood in there and kept swinging. She didn’t know what she was doing but tried anyway.

You need to keep swinging even though you may miss and may look foolish. Because sometimes – out of the blue – when you keep trying, you may get a hit and drive in the winning run – like my young player did.

We gave her the game ball and she looked up at me with big eyes and said, “What do I do with this?”

“You’ve already done it! You’re the star of the game.”

So to all those who are about to graduate or try something for the first time, think of my “Disco Pandas” and be brave. Get in the game. Keep swinging.

Like this? Click here to SUBSCRIBE to this blog and get these posts delivered right to your email box. It’s nice to share too – Like, Tweet, Share with a friend. Thanks! – Erin


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