Mamas, let your daughters play sports

Terry Garlock's picture

Steely eyes on opposing sides watched carefully during warm-ups to size up the strength and skill of those they came to engage in the first game on just the third day of school at McIntosh High. Coach Pearce had little time to select players after tryouts and mold them into the synchronized machine they need to be.

When the umpire declared “Play ball!” tension became action, dust flying as the batter dug in feet like a pawing bull, infielders poised for quick moves as the pitcher fired the ball across the plate.

It wasn’t long until chants gave way to grunts and panting breath of exertion stretching far outside the comfort zone, fielders lunging to intercept the ball with a pop in their glove, hurling bullets to bases in desperation to beat the runner stretching to outrun the throw while spectators roared.

Fire-in-the-belly mixed with sweat and yells of encouragement to teammates but the other school scored; we needed to hold them and catch up.

Each batter reached way down in their gut to find the focus to put the bat on the ball, resolved to sprint faster this time to beat the throw, determined to run like the wind after first base and slide under the throw to touch the base first with their leading foot in a cloud of red dust.

Aches and pains were disregarded in the dugout, sweat-stained faces focused on the field, dirty arms and the occasional bloody skinned elbow ignored as they screamed their joy and slapped an attaboy at a scoring teammate.

These McIntosh Lady Chiefs softball players are the same feminine creatures who will primp for an hour to get their hair and makeup just right to be a knockout in a slinky dress.

While their game blood is up, though, best to stay out of their way as they have a job to do and will run right over you to do it. Better still to give them some distance so in their team mode they can wallow privately in the same indulgent comforts as boys — yell encouragement to each other, talk trash, scratch and fart and belch, and after the games when they are tired, dirty and hungry, eat with the delicacy of feral hogs if nobody is watching.

Not knowing whether they will win or lose, for every game they suit up to battle for their school, for each other, for their coach and for themselves, but after the dust settles and the showers wash away the dirt and sweat, they put away their warrior to re-cloak as teenage girls.

They walk the halls of their school as young ladies proud of accomplishment from hard work well done; sometimes they are the alluring heartbreaker who drives young men wild.

This is a call to younger girls; if you want to keep your feminine side but tap your inner warrior to represent your school, this is one way to do it, and you’ll find opportunities in multiple girls sports at every high school.

At McIntosh High, Coach Pearce wants you on the softball team. The best way to prepare is to start at a young age playing ball with the local recreation league — in Peachtree City call Kent at 678-313-1200 but you better hurry to register for the fall season.

Middle school girls should also play ball on your school team, where fundamentals get honed into sharper skill.

By the time you reach high school, you’ll be ready for Coach Pearce to take you to a higher level, to challenge you and build on your abilities to achieve more than you dreamed you could.

Beyond personal satisfaction and proudly representing your school, you will be storing away memories of stretching your own limits side-by-side with your teammates in tough contests, memories you will hold dear even when your hair turns grey.

As long as kids and young adults strive for excellence in sports, we parents will watch with a kind of vicarious thrill in their struggle for victory, and so it was with me this first game of the season.

Our team fell behind several runs and only in a late inning caught fire, players feeding off each other’s enthusiasm, ending the game by tournament rules with a hard-fought tie.

But earlier in the game, my petite daughter, Melanie, scored the first McIntosh run, a close call in a sliding dust storm and collision with the catcher at home plate, then she jumped up and jogged to the dugout with a smirk of pride.

Just before the summer, when we took photos of Melanie dressed for a dance date, I thought with wonder she must be the prettiest thing I had ever seen.

I think all the Lady Chief parents would agree both the feminine and warrior side of our girls are important parts of who they are, who they are becoming, and we are bursting proud of them.

[Terry Garlock of Peachtree City occasionally contributes a column to The Citizen. His email is terry@garlock1.com.]

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Mr. Garlock - You

You are living a dream as a father, hold on to it as long as you can, cherish these moments, it is too soon only wonderful memories.

With a lot of envy, PTCO

tgarlock
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Memories, indeed, PTCO

In one of the golden nuggets of my life, quite by accident I discovered when I had kids late in life there was a writer inside me trying to get out - I wrote many little stories about them that did capture a lot of memories. Don't tell anyone, but here's one just for you, a shameless indulgence on my part.

KRISTEN'S BUTT-DROP DISMOUNT
5/26/04

When Melanie was three years old, I marveled at her enthusiasm in "belly jumps," jumping high, sticking her legs straight out, and landing on my belly with her butt to extract an "Ooof!" and bulged eyes from me. It was a gymnastic wonder that I would have had to practice for a month before getting it right.

And now at just 2 1/2, Kristen has mastered the same skill, albeit for a different purpose less damaging to her Dad's poor old body. When we all four are gathered in our king sized bed, them to watch TV while I tune it out and read, Kristen is always on the move. Which is not easy because the top of the bed is about shoulder height to her as she stands on the floor. But she has mastered the amazing technique of raising her knee that high and levering herself up on the bed, because she was on the floor and being on the bed would be better, that's why! And after a few minutes on the bed, she has to get down because, well, there's good stuff scattered on the floor, that's why.

But how is a delicate little flower like Kristen to get down from such a lofty height? No longer batting an eye at the maneuver, she just walks to the edge of the bed and sticks both legs straight out in the air, an absolute wonder of physics and gymnastics to her inert Dad, but to her it is routine as she lets gravity take over and bounce her tiny little diaper-bound butt on the edge of the bed, just one bounce, and she lands on the floor on her feet, standing straight up just as if that is how God intended her to get around.

Me, I just shake my head in wonder and try to focus on my book and ignore the chaos around me, which is not easy for an old Grump who lusts after peace and quiet; my book is my refuge. And in a moment Kristen's head and knee appear at the edge of the bed, because there is better stuff on the bed, that's why.

Terry Garlock

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Mr. Garlock - Thanks

for sharing this story, children are God's ultimate blessing on us. To paraphrase someone much wiser than me, there are places in your heart you don't even know exist until you love a child.

stranger than f...
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An enjoyable read!

Congratulations to your athletic daughter. Perhaps this will encourage other young ladies to enter the world of regulated competition with umpires instead of beauty and talent judges.

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Mr. Garlock

What a gift-the ability to express heartfelt love and wonder through the use of words! You have beautiful, talented daughters and they have a great dad!

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DM, I pulled together a couple hundred . . .

. . . stories I wrote about my kids into a book titled "Sisters Redeem Their Grumpy Dad," which is a title faithful to the truth. I was born with no patience and then it got worse. In an early chapter I explained with a number of confessions why I will never be in the running for Father of the Year and why I need redemption, ending with this paragraph that sums it up:

"But, as told in the stories herein, maybe it’s kids after all that make life worth living, and maybe we find redemption in the wide-eyed innocence of our children, even an old Grump like me. I am reminded every time I hear “Daddy!”"

I pulled the book off the market when my oldest became old enough to be embarrassed by its contents. But I still have a few copies and as it happens my youngest is taking a copy tomorrow to one of her teachers who is adopting a child, offering one example of how to capture the memories in little stories, though you don't have to write a book to do it.

I'm old, cranky, my mood isn't helped by chronic pain, and generally unsuitable for parenthood. But it's the kids who changed me enough that we get the job done. Don't give me too much credit.

Terry Garlock

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Terry & Raising Kids

Yes, some of those yrs were touch & go allright. I remember being willing to give our Daughter to whoever would take her when she was 11-13 (she's now 38). Our Son, who is 40, married with 2 young boys under 5) was never the same kind of challenge for some reason. But here's the real kicker: I remember when George Bush (jr) was being interviewed by Jim Lehrer on PBS about which name he peferred to be called. Was it "George" or was it "W"?
Bush looked at him and said "Neither--it's DAD! One of the best off-the-cuff answers I think I've ever heard!

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MR. GARLOCK

Would love to read that book! It would help me and my husband as we 'babysit' our 3 year old grandchild at this ripe age of OVER 70!! LOL. I'm reminded of the email we received from our oldest some time ago. In short, it said : The words Thank You don't begin to express what he felt towards the patience that we exhibited during his and his brothers teenage years. (He was in the midst of raising FOUR teenagers!!!! - in different stages of their 'growing up'.) [two boys and two girls] I remember my Daddy telling me how smart he would appear once I turned 18. He was right!! Don't be modest! You're doing a terrific job!

Davids mom
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oops

.

tgarlock
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STF I couldn't agree more . . .

. . . about beauty contests and am glad my girls were never interested.

Terry Garlock

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