The Turtle Club in LaSalle, Ontario started their winter clinics.
The Turtle Club has a great little setup in a gymnasium down the street from the famed Essex Golf and Country Club. There are five little workstations for throwing, ground ball and pop fly practice, and two batting stations.
Each of the thirty little girls in our session was eager to be there.
And no one complaining to go home.
Baseballs bouncing on a gymnasium floor. Coaches standing with the kids helping them get their fingers right on the ball, stepping through to get leverage on the ball. Elbows raised and hands positioned on the handle of the bat to strike the waffle ball on the tee with force.
Balls bouncing off of heads in the pop fly station.
Balls being whipped at coaches in ground ball station.
In an icy cold January like this one, I need any hint of summer that I can get.
Sure, there is no smell of fresh cut diamond grass, or no red clay, or the chalk of the baselines yet.
But there is baseball, and baseball is alive in the hearts of my girls.
Alannah and Ashley-Rae did well. I was happy with how hard they were trying – and in how fgood they were doing. They were paying attention – not spinning around while waiting their turn – doing dance moves and chatting and giggling with their friends.
That's all I can possibly ask.
You can't make a kid like baseball. They either like it or they don't.
And at least for this first practice, they liked baseball.
I know some of you may wonder why this means so much to me. But it does.
The Turtle Club is a fantastic organization, their facilities are just around the corner from our house, and most times when we go someplace, we drive right by it. And when we do we look down the laneway as we pass and we all remember how pretty it is there in the spring and summer – the green white and yellow colors of the parks and clubhouse – the old fashioned white scoreboards with numbers hung by hand in the squares.
The history there is grand. National titles and trips to the Little League World Series by Turtle Club teams.
It means something.
I want my daughters to grow up being a part of the Turtle Club. To have the experience with them of being a part of such an organization while they grow up. To contribute to such an organization – to care about something and give back to it.
To learn sportsmanship and team work.
And maybe even learn some leadership skills – if the opportunities present themselves.
Opportunities always present themselves.
Last year I took a stab at becoming a Turtle Club coach. But they didn't seem to think my application and references were up to their standards. And that was ok. So I helped out where I could.
But this isn't about me. I'm happy to assist however they ask me to.
So here we sit on the last day of January – the first day of Turtle Club baseball. And I am so delighted that it started on such a fantastic note.
Most other little kids in Canada right now are wrapped up in hockey or ringette right now. Both are fantastic sports in their own rite. Both teach the exact same things – but in different ways.
But to me there is something special about baseball, and what it can offer a little kid. And what a little kid can learn from learning such a diverse set of skills.
So for this moment I am savoring how positive 2010 baseball started out this morning.
And I think the best is yet to come.
Suddenly January doesn't feel so cold anymore.
Suddenly spring doesn't feel so far away.
The Turtle Club is playing baseball again.
Even if it is inside a gymnasium.