Put Me in Coach

I always thought that there would be nothing better than playing a sport you love to play. You know the process, the game day prep, the pump up tunes, team meeting, getting hyped, the adrenaline rush when you take the field or go up to bat, and just the team atmosphere.  But I was wrong. There is something that matches that feeling of playing a sport you love – coaching a sport you love.

My goal, as a coach, is to develop, not only the skills they need to play the game, but the love for the game. I want them to appreciate the little nuances of the game – to look at a team we are playing and have them see what they are doing well and where the weaknesses are.  I love it when I look up from writing the line up and see them watching the other team warming up, talking about how what they see. I want them to understand the game – so they can, in turn, coach the next generation to love this game.

This team though – this year was so much fun.  This team has so much potential and a few times throughout the season I saw flashes of brilliance out on the field and I got excited. I was excited because it was starting to click – they were starting to not just go through the motions but they were playing the game, understanding the game. We had so many compliments from other coaches about our catchers, our infield and how they covered and played, our pitchers mechanics, our base running and just how consistent they were in playing the game.  I watched each and everyone of our girls do something that we worked on in practice and have it transfer over to a game.  Just to highlight – a headfirst slide, delayed stealing (that even surprised me), a grand slam,  a bomb of a throw from Left Field to home to get the runner out, framed pitches, and change-up pitches. They played as a team, they won as a team and lost as a team – and I can hands-down guarantee, that win or lose, we were having the most fun out there. Just ask any one of the girls on this team what time it is and you let me know what they say! #dingertime

A huge shout out to my co-coaches  – the endless energy and hours they put in, the way they know how to explain a concept or what to say to get the most out of the girls.  I could not do this without them.  It takes a team to coach a team, and I am so glad these two are on my team.  Kali – who has been there from the start is the calm to my storm. She has a way of getting the girls to dig deep and play from their hearts. Her quiet confidence keeps me (somewhat) calm on the bench.  Chantal – one of the best decisions I’ve ever made was asking her to help coach these kids. I’m not sure if I’ve met anyone who loves this sport more than she does and that infectious love of the sport was instantly passed onto the team. The wealth of knowledge she brought to this team is priceless.

Our season ended at provincials this past weekend, our goal was to make it out of our pool and play on Sunday , which we did.  And when our season ended, we did what we do best, had fun.  Team pictures – water fight – and crushing a piñata.  Thank you girls for a great season – it was one to remember and one I won’t forget.  I am so proud to be your coach and I can’t wait for next year. #gocents

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On the Road Again….

It’s that time in our family where the meeting of winter sports meet summer sports.  Our oldest is still playing second season hockey and has started ball practices, our middle is still prepping for her karate grading  and has also started her ball practices and our youngest is just dreaming of seeding fields on the farm – oh and his ball starts this week! My husband is going over the farm machinery, checking fields and looking after all the details for spring time work and seeding on the farm. And here I am prepping my piano students for May exams, coaching Ally’s ball team and basically organizing and scheduling our crazy life for the next couple of months.  Honestly – I wouldn’t have it any other way! We are all doing what we love to do and even though we might seem like we are going in 8 different directions at once – I do enjoy some of the one-on-one time I get with the kids because we are going in different directions.

There are a couple of things I do – prep-wise – that keep us going in the right direction.  A visible weekly schedule  – I had a fancy schmancy dry erase monthly calendar but honestly it wasn’t the best. It was overwhelming to look at the whole month as opposed to just a week at a time.  SO I pulled out a piece of paper and put it in a page protector. (Ya I’m crafty like that)   I fill it out weekly with a dry erase marker – with Manitoba weather chances are ball games are going to be cancelled and rescheduled. The kids and look and see where they are going – my farmer husband can see which towns his kids are playing if he has a chance to get away from the field – and I have a visual to see what’s going on and where everyone needs to be.  It’s cheap, it’s easy and it works.

Another prep I do for the controlled chaos is pack a snack bag.  My kids get off the school bus close to 4:00 pm and we are usually on the road again (if they have a practice or a game) by 5:00pm.  That means an early supper or a supper on the go, and once their activity is done they are hungry! Scratch that – they are HANGRY! So to feed the wild beasts I have a bag of snacks that goes in the vehicle with us.  Usually filled with snacks they like and will fill them up or tie them over till we get home.  This week we have almonds, Clif Bars, fruit cups, applesauce, granola bars.  I’ll also put fresh fruit and veggies in there or any baking that I’ve done (muffins, cookies etc).  Some juice boxes and Powerade or Gatorade will be there too , as well as the kids water bottles. Along with some wet-naps, napkins and spoons.

SO hopefully this crazy, chaotic season will run smoothly and everyone will get to the places they need to be safely and well-fed.  Moms on the go – what are your go-to time saving methods you use? Let’s help each other get through the busy seasons of life!

The Knockouts 

Monday evenings in the summer are spent at the ball diamond – and these Monday nights are for the ladies. That’s right – ladies beer ball league invades town  – and it is on this day of the week where you get to witness The Misfits, Dream Team, Lady Lightning, but most importantly The Knockouts play some stellar slow-pitch (We also have two teams from neighbouring towns – but we just call them the town names – sorry Deloraine and Killarney).

Mondays are for the girls #knockoutcentral

I’ve been playing for a few years now (5 I think) and I must say that it is definitely a highlight of my week! We might not be the best team out there – but we have a ton of fun and laugh a lot! We are quite the eclectic group – we come from all walks of life and a myriad of professions (just to highlight – we have a lawyer on our team FYI, a hair stylist, and a couple of teachers just to name a few).  I believe we have the largest age range – from young-ish to “old” (but let’s be honest age is just a number – and our hair stylist makes sure we don’t look too old) We have those who show up in full gear and cleats and those who still kick at the ball (we’re converting a soccer player), or jump out of the way of the ball (#notnamingnames #youknowwhoyouare 😂), some have played competitively in their glory days and some are learning and playing the game for the first time ever!

We have our fair share of pirouettes, pretzels, and nose dives BUT we do have one player (yes just one) who will voluntarily slide into bases!  The rest of us fall and trip over the base and call it a slide. We groan and complain that we are all getting old and chances are we have all pulled at least one (if not multiple) muscles throughout the season – and if you are lucky enough to make it through the season without injury – you will (I promise) be injured in some capacity during The Tournament.

But you know what – once we step on that field – or up to the plate – something magical  (or miraculous – depends who you ask) takes place. We are called the Knockouts for a reason – and it’s not just because of our natural good looks #soblessed – but our team can hit! This season we were channeling our inner Big Papi’s, Joey Bats, Aaron Judge’s and Steve Pearce’s (#grandslamsonly). But you have to be patient – since we are “older-ish” it takes us a couple of innings to warm up – so we only start hitting consistently in the 4th inning. Chances are we are down by a couple or 5 runs and we like to rally in the open inning.  We have a flair for the dramatic. #itsateamthing

We are mostly an offensive team BUT our defence kicked it up a notch this year – we had a lot of double plays and almost – ALMOST A TRIPLE PLAY. #socloseithurttowatch

But seriously – I love this team. I love its inclusivity. I love the laughs. I love the work ethic. I love the teamwork. I love the competitive spirit. But most importantly I love that every year in June we come back and it’s like nothing has changed. We finish the games and win or lose we head over to the lounge – have a drink and laugh some more. So cheers to you fellow Knockouts – and kudos on a great season! #cantwaittillthewindup #alsotimetogetsomenewjerseys