October 30, 2003

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Itís easy to see that I love sports. I follow all sorts of professional contests and pursue as many sporting activities as time, and my aging body, allow me to. I confessed my passion for the Cubs but honestly Iím not sure which is my favorite NFL and NBA teams. But one thing is for sure, after nearly a decade (thatís right youíve put up with it for that long Ė I know it seems like longer) here in Memphis I cheer for the Tigers in every venue.

But this past week when the all-conference list was released for the Tri-Rivers Conference softball players I was even more pleased than normal to peruse the list and find a number of Scotland County Lady Tigers being honored for their play on the ball diamond. Sure, I was happy to see so many of our girls recognized for their high level of play, but what made it particularly special was the memories it brought back of little girls playing in the dirt as I tried to hit them groundballs way back in pee wee league.

I doubt any of them remember back that far but the group of kids that anchored the 2003 Lady Tigers successful season started out chasing butterflies and each other instead of fly balls. It only took a few practices to get them running around the bases in the right direction but then again it was sometimes difficult to voice your coaching concerns over the high pitched giggles or when one girl had to go to the restroom and had to have a minimum of three others go with her for support.

Sure I wasnít the greatest softball coach in the world. To be honest, I think I was the leagues last option as the season was set to begin shortly and the team was in desperate need of a coach, or at least an adult who could make up a lineup and get the girls to and from their games on time.

But then again, Iím not trying to claim responsibility for this yearís success and definitely didnít have much to do with these girls being named all conference. Then again it still makes you proud to know that you played a part in helping mold these future all stars. Of course the process isnít limited to just on the field. While I am proud that our pitcher was a four-year starter for SCR-I, a perennial candidate for league MVP, and a future college player, Iím just as proud when I go into the bank or the grocery store and see one of my former players at work. Or when I watch one or the other perform on stage or in the band, take a picture of them for an academic honor or just simply pass them on the street and say hello.

Iíll get to feel the same way this winter when the boys I coached in elementary basketball will take the court for their senior season. I just hope that smile and the warm heart will be enough to bring me back into coaching when my kids are ready to play. It takes a lot of time, hard work and dedication, so remember that next time you see your kids coach and thank them for the job they are doing to help mold your children.

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