By Braddah Lance
It's inevitable that all things come to an end.... but when do you actually know?
It happens every year with athletes when we, as fans, know that they have past their prime and they should be retiring but as any one of them will tell you, they still feel like they can (should) play.
When WWD! came to an abrupt end in 2010, it wasn't by my choice and it certainly wasn't time considering we've only been up for a couple of years but nothing could be done.
Every year about this time, for the past 18 years, I've packed up my gloves, cleats and visor and headed down to the baseball diamond. This year is no different marking my 19th year of coaching in P.A.L (Police Activities League) and while it may not be as prestigious as in years when I used to play, it's still an avenue available to get kids active and an option to get out and do something since it's a community based league rather than by selection.
I actually prefer that our league is "low-key" now because in truth - as I tell every parent that has had their son or daughter come through the program - "I don't coach baseball".
Wassup Wit Dat!
Well, considering P.A.L's core philosophies, it's something that I value considerably and take to heart although there are many coaches, parents and even players who think and act otherwise. I've always believed that if you want to be competitive and want to play competitively, there are many many leagues to go out and do so - P.A.L isn't one of them and that's why I enjoy and am proud of being a coach in the P.A.L organization.
I straight up tell the parents my one and only goal for the season is to have the player come out a better person and if s/he comes out a better player then that's a bonus.
As intense of a coach as I am, I've always wondered why my players keep coming back and I can only say that it has to be that I respect them as a person AND a player. It doesn't matter to me if s/he sucks okole or if they can't hit the wide side of a barn from 10 feet away (I have player like that right now), but I can guarantee their attitude will change and in turn their skills will improve should they go through one season with me. My only hope is that they take those changes and carry it through their life instead of just the season.
This years roster consists of literally five players (we need at least 10). Usually, once we start practice we have players trickle in wondering if they can still sign up but this year we've had none and the last few years we have seen our numbers decline. The offering of year round sports is the main culprit meaning that you can play ANY sport at any time of year now instead of only in it's dedicated season.
Honestly, I would have done the same and played football year round had it been offered back in the day so I don't blame that because I would have been doing something that I love. The problem with that though is that you're not exposed to different experiences to grow from and also, you don't let your body heal and recuperate from the repetitive motions of the one sport. You also run the chance of burning out at such a young age.
I've always encouraged my players to go out and do something different once baseball season is pau because you'll be able to learn form different coaches and challenge yourself to different techniques. If you stay with the same coach year after year, you really can only take in so much.
Do you have your son or daughter, niece or nephew involved in year round sports? Do you think year round sports is beneficial? Encouraging? Unhealthy? Would you, at that age, have choosen to remain in a singular sport played throughout the year?
This year I probably will not have an opportunity to carry this on and it's not by my choice. It's a shock to me and it feels like a steel door just just slammed right in front of me. I never envisioned leaving the program under this kind of circumstance and always thought I'd be walking towards the sunset on my own two feet.
Maybe it's time to hang up the glove and "retire" but I'd be amiss if I didn't try to salvage the season for the five that are signed up. I've already spread the word around and tried reaching out but no bites so I'm asking the WWD! Hui if you know of any kids ages 10-12 as of May 1st that might be interested in learning a little about themselves. No experience is necessary and all skill levels are welcome as I've seen all kines come and go through the program. The practices are at Salt Lake District Park (makai - the one with the pool) and more information can given to those who are interested.