DAD, I want to play a sport

430_3107323When I signed up to be a dad I knew there would be small challenges.  I knew I would be at some gym or park now and then watching my kids kick a ball or batting or shooting hoops.  I knew I would show them some little tips in the process.  “Follow through.”, “Point where you want it to go.”, “Hustle!”…you know, the basics.  Then, I could go back to the life of a dad in a folding chair on a warm spring day pointing out things the coach missed or handing out Gatorade to the kids.  That’s it, right?  That is a parent who has a kid who plays some fun non score keeping sport in 2015, right?

First, sports are a lot with 1 kid, let alone 2 or 3 or 4!  So, for now, let’s pretend I only have 1 child.  After finding your child’s sport de jour, you spend hours on websites finding the one place that has everything you want for your kid and is not too expensive (because it is expensive either way) and isn’t too far away from home.  Once decided, you can just show up for the first practice, right?

So far in my experience the answer to that question is, “No.”  40% of the time they need a coach or an assistant coach and everyone just looks around looking for a volunteer.  Seeing 7 moms standing there (3 of them with strollers) and a few dads that are too busy looking at their smart phones I say, “I can help.”  Hey, I can wrangle kids and get them to sit in a dugout or on a bench while the real coach teaches lessons that start some kid’s career.  Easy as can be!  Then, I find out the coach can’t make it on practice nights so, “Hey man, can you help with that?”  And then, they can’t make the first 2 games because well, they have to go to Disney with their family.  Now, I am planning practices and balancing lineups and there are 2 McKenzies and 3 Connors.  One kid’s dad is the local TV person I watch every morning while ironing my khakis and they all get folding chairs and watch me teach a sport…a sport I played in gym class and with friends in the 80s that I don’t even watch on TV.

430_3107354There were a lot of challenges I never expected and as I contribute to this blog I will probably touch base on this experience in more detail.  My kid played a successful season as a 6 year old in organized sports.  12 – 16 other kids had a great experience, too. They learned batting and catching and running.  We had fun.  The parents and grandparents lined up and cheered and clapped and patted me on the back and said “Thank you.”  I learned to use the last initial for the 3 Connors, and the TV guy was a great help when needed.  I learned to pitch 300 balls each game and duck as soon as I threw each one (well, all but 1….that first one definitely got me).  I learned that I don’t need to “know” a sport like a professional would, just how to be there when someone got hurt and cheer on the kid that hits a home run each time along with the kid that hit one ball all year all the same.  Everyone gets to play first base or pitcher and one kid will insist he do it every time.  I can’t favor my kid even if I want to and it’s hard not to.

There is no folding chair for me in youth sports.  There is no joking and pointing out the things the coach missed.  I didn’t stand by the grandparents cheering on my son.  I was next to the kids and on the field wearing the team hat and playing that sport with them.  I need a Gatorade, too.  Are there any red ones left?

I never knew that would happen. I never thought I could/would coach kids when I planned for a family.  I never knew I could coach your kid, let alone my own.  But, now I know and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  And as you can assume, I didn’t just do this for my pretend only child, but that experience with the first child opened my eyes and I feel truly blessed for that opportunity.  As for the child whose focus is dance, well, I stick to painting props, etc. for productions and drive carpool to and/or from the studio and we bond on the same level as I do with all the other kids because of it.  We make it work and love every minute of it!

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BJ Witkopf

BJ Witkopf

Divorced dad of 2, live with my girlfriend with her 2 kids I am an active dad that is involved in everything the kids do. I make time where there isn't any and don't miss a thing. We play hockey and soccer and dance. I am trying to learn to be an artist and writer and dad and good employee all at the same time. it isn't always easy but in the end everyone is happy.