Prior to moving here (Gig Harbor, WA) in 2015, I emailed Gig Harbor Little League (GHLL) and asked if there was a way my son could play even if we wouldn’t be in town for evaluation day. Happily, the board president told me that if my son wanted to play, he would “personally see to it that he has a team.” In essence, “we will make space for you.”
Two days after moving here and 11 months after my son beat cancer for the 3rd time—losing an eye in the battle—we had our first practice. A bit to my surprise, the Manager told me that he made a trade for my son because his journey matched with another family going through a similar situation. I realized quickly this experience was not going to be about baseball, but about the people we would be with throughout the baseball season. Boy was that true.
Each year since then I have found a space to give my time to GHLL because this league made space for my son. He loves the game. He knows a lot about it. He shows up to practice, he works hard, he hates attention, doesn’t say much. He doesn’t play for wins and losses but shows up because his friends are on the field. If we parents are honest with ourselves, we know how quickly the players get over a loss and move on. Many of us, on the other hand, struggle. We forget there are no college scouts, no MLB draft signings next week, no large contracts in the balance. We’re called to enjoy these moments of parenting as much as the players enjoy these moments of baseball.
Because GHLL has created space for my family, I felt it important to try and replicate the experience my family has had since 2015. I teach my son and the kids I coach that “the people in the game are always more important than the outcome.” This concept, while easy to forget, holds true in all areas of life.
From personal experience I know that a lot of the hesitancy in getting involved (coach, umpire, etc.) has to do with the inevitability of listening to a distraught parent questioning a decision or call that was made by a volunteer to an organization that is not perfect and is filled with busy people who are professionals in other fields. I do it, however, because GHLL made space for my family. I know I’m not perfect, I know I’ve made a bad call, I know there are more qualified people out there. But this family matters and each person within it does too. It’s why I show up to try to make a small and positive impact to an organization that made space for my family.
I have been on the other side. It’s easy to forget a healthy child that can throw, run, see, hit, and even speak is a gift from God. I’ve sat next to my son with needles in his arms while chemotherapy is running through his body to fight a life-threatening disease. I’ve sat there wishing we were outside throwing the ball around, uncertain if he’d even survive to do the things he loves again. When a parent is upset over safe/out/ball/strike, I want to remind them watching their children doing something so active is a gift. There are plenty of kids and families at Children’s Hospitals right now wishing they could do what we enjoy every day.
GHLL gave us space. We want to make space and give back. It’s why I showed up this weekend with a perspective bigger than baseball. We are in this together. Let’s make space for one another.