Thursday, March 22, 2012

What A Difference A Year Makes

A year ago, J was just finishing up his freshman season with the school team.  He was also just a couple weeks away from the tryout that would forever change the course of his baseball career.  At the end of the school season last year, J came to hubby and I and said he wanted to find a travel team to play on.  We decided to contact Top Prospects to see about their travel teams and well, the rest is history.  J tried out for Coach C on a sunny Saturday at the beginning of April.  I don't think any of us imagined back then where we'd be a year later.  J has grown so much as a player under Coach C's guidance.  He's stronger, more confident, and has more clearly defined goals in terms of what he hopes to achieve in baseball.

Tonight J has his final JV game for his sophomore season.  It's been a season with a lot of ups and downs.  As I've stated before, J's school does not have a strong baseball program.  The JV team has a record of 3 wins and 4 losses, with two games being called off due to rain in the second inning.  The team alternates between playing well and giving their all, to practically forgetting how to play the game.  Tonight they face their toughest opponent yet, one of the top school teams in the county.  Anything can happen of course, and for J's sake, I do hope they do well and at least give a good fight.  He gets so frustrated when the team plays poorly.  Individually, J has had a pretty decent season.  He's played well more often than not, and has really stepped up and been a team leader.  J is a champion when it comes to encouraging and supporting his teammates.  In fact, it is one of his finest attributes as a player. Even at the lowest points, he's still out there encouraging the team to fight to the very end.

J has had some outstanding moments this season:  two doubles hit in one game, great plays at first and third base, and a decent run at short stop, which is not a position he normally plays.  He's also had some not so outstanding moments:  strikeouts, bad throws, and missed balls.  It's all part of the game, and it all contributes to making J the player he is and will become.

So what's next?  Coach C will be home from college for the summer at the end of April.  TP practices will start the first week in May with the first tournament being played the first weekend in June.  J can't wait.  He's missed Coach C and he's missed playing on a quality, competitive team, which TP is.  The coming of the summer season also signals J's next step in the program Coach C has tailored for him.  One of the biggest steps will be his attendance at a couple of showcases in the coming months.  Coach C recently mentioned a couple he would like J to attend.  I'm just waiting to receive the details from him so I can make the arrangements.  For those that don't know, a showcase is an event where J will be just that, showcased for the college scouts.  I can't tell you exactly what it entails since we've never gone to one, but that's the general idea.  J will have the opportunity to showcase his talent and skill for the people who can make all the difference in his baseball future.  It's a nerve wracking prospect for all of us.  I know he'll give it his all and that everything that's meant to happen will happen.

A year ago I never could have imagined the strides J would make as a player.  He's completed two seasons of his high school career, he's earned a spot on a highly competitive team that enables him to continue to develop and grow as a player, and he's developed a keen focus on achieving the dream that's been a part of him since he was four years old.  Most importantly, he's been able to forge a true and lasting friendship with someone who believes in him and is dedicated to helping him achieve that dream.  Once again, I have to thank Coach C for everything he's done and continues to do for J.  I often think of J as a diamond in the rough with Coach C polishing him til he shines.  Sometimes I picture what it will be like when J plays in his first college baseball game.  (I think positively, when not if)  I can picture the grin that will be on J's face as he takes the field.  I can hear the cheers of the crowd.  And I can picture the huge cheering section J will have.  Hubby, N, A, Coach C and I.  His grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Our nearest and dearest friends.  I know without a doubt that I'll cry and that my heart will nearly burst with pride.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

1st Coast Twirling Competition

This weekend A competed in her second twirling competition.  We traveled to Jacksonville Friday afternoon and spent the night since we had to report to the competition venue by 8:15 AM.  My mom and dad accompanied us with hubby staying behind due to work.  The boys stayed home as well though they will be attending the state competition in May.  A loves staying in hotels and she was very excited to get to do so with her team.  Everyone went out to dinner together Friday evening, then the girls got in some practice and hung out in the pool.  If A could have had her way, we would have had the entire team for a big sleepover in our room! Staying with the baton team really wasn't much different than staying with TP.  Kids having a good time together, sometimes being a little too loud, and building team memories.  Instead of wiffle ball being played behind the hotel there was twirling practice.

Early yesterday morning, we got up, enjoyed the breakfast provided by the hotel, and got A ready.  For those  wondering if baton competition is anything like a Toddlers and Tiaras beauty pageant, let me assure you, it isn't.  (Aunt K this is for you!) I'm not into baby beauty pageants, no offense to anyone who is, and would never have A participate in anything I felt was not in her best interest.  Baton competition consists of group numbers, solos, marching, and modeling.  The modeling is very low key and entirely optional.  The girls do wear makeup, but I have yet to see anything  over the top or not age appropriate.  A's makeup consists of a little neutral eye shadow, mascara, and neutral lipstick.  She loves getting to dress up in her various costumes and outfits.

For this competition, A was in two group numbers.  She was in a group pom pom routine with several other girls, all of various ages.  They took first place for their routine, as they did at the last competition.  She was also in a twirl routine trio with her friends H and E.  They began working on Boot Scootin Baby about 6 weeks ago and this was their first time performing it.  They also took first place.  Several of the other group routines our team performed also took first place.

A was entered into three title events for this competition.  Strut Queen, for which she modeled a baseball dress costume, and performed both basic and military marching  She took second place for that.  For Queen she modeled an aqua and white tea length gown, and won first place.  For Diva she modeled a  sportswear outfit and also took first place.  In each of these categories she was competing against one other contestant.  She got a crown and sash for Queen and Diva and spent the remainder of the afternoon wearing two crowns on her head.

In May, the state twirling competition is coming up.  In fact, I need to sit down this week and figure out A's entries and get the form turned in.  I imagine she'll enter pretty much the same things she did this time.  She loves baton.  Her coaches, S and her daughter J, are wonderful.  So are the other girls on the team  They range in age from 6 on up to 17.  The older girls are terrific with the younger girls and there's a real sense of team camaraderie.  A can't wait til the next competition when her daddy and brothers will come to see her twirl.  I've included some photos from yesterday below.

Her costume for Boot Scootin Baby

                                 She loves this dress and thinks it would be perfect for a prom.

                                                   She's got the sassy modeling pose down.

                                           My little twirler after receiving her Queen and Diva awards.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Still Crushing

Several months ago, I wrote a post about A having her first crush on Coach C, Her First Big Crush.  In the months since then, A has continued to crush on Coach C, providing us with a lot of laughs along the way.  In her usual sassy style, A has decided Coach C is the one for her.  She writes him letters at school, has me deliver messages via text and Facebook, has a framed snapshot of the two of them in her room, and enjoys every opportunity she gets to see him.  We're never quite sure what she might say or do.  The last time Coach C was  at the house, she went into her room and came out dressed in a fancy dress and shoes, wearing jewelry, and carrying a purse.  She then went outside, knocked on the door, and when hubby answered, announced she was there to pick Coach C  up for a date.  The two of them ate apple dumplings at the kitchen table along with N, hubby, and I.  It's a wonder none of us choked trying not to laugh.  She accompanied hubby and I to UF when J attended camp in December, and was thrilled to spend nearly the entire day with Coach C after not seeing him for several  months.  She often claims the two of them will be getting married, and has planned the wedding down to the last detail.  In case you're wondering, the wedding cake will be yellow with vanilla frosting, the TP boys will serve as groomsmen, Coach K will be best man, and two of my friends will be bridesmaids.  The color scheme will be blue and orange since Coach C is a Gator fan. I manage to listen to all of these plans with a straight face, but once out of her sight, I admit to laughing til I cry.  She's just so innocent and cute and I get a kick out of watching her in the throes of her first crush.

You might be wondering how Coach C feels at finding himself the object of A's affections.  At first he was shocked, especially after hubby revealed A's crush by asking him if his intentions were honorable.  That's a story for another post! Once the shock wore off, Coach C has been a terrific sport, humoring A by playing along and always being conscientious of her tender little heart.  He's a wonderful friend to her, and I'm glad her first crush is on someone as terrific as Coach C.  He takes all of hubby's razzing about the situation with good humor, and treats A like a little queen.  The day before her birthday, she announced to me that she couldn't wait to talk to Coach C the next day.  She was sure he'd be calling since it  was her birthday.  After a quick text from me giving him a heads up, he did exactly that, making my baby girl's birthday extra special.  J has gotten past his initial embarrassment over A's crush and laughs along with the  rest of us.  He also helps keep her crush a closely guarded secret from the team.  If it were to become common knowledge, Coach C would never have any peace.  The boys  would razz him unmercifully, so we keep it on the down low with the team.

A is currently disappointed because Coach C is unable to come over for  dinner while he's home on Spring Break.  Between his schedule and ours, it just didn't work out and she spent a short time being pouty and sad.  But in true A style, she perked up quickly and started making plans for the next time Coach C is home. She can also accompany me to the parent meeting for TP this weekend and give Coach C the hug hubby refused to deliver at work. I've included a few photos of A and Coach C below.


One Heck of A Game

As everyone knows by now, J plays for the JV team at his high school.  Unfortunately, J's high school does not have the strongest baseball program around, either JV or varsity.  So far this season, both teams have only one win apiece.  However, J is determined to make the best of things and approaches each game with the attitude that this game will be different.  The JV team is young, has a new new coach, and to be honest, is a little rough around the edges.  They've been working extremely hard though and last night their efforts paid off with their first win.  They beat their cross town rivals 4-3 in a nail biter of a game. J's team led the opposing team for the first four innings, not allowing them to score any runs.  In the fifth inning the opposing team fought back and managed to score three runs, leaving J's team with only a one run lead.  Things were tense going into the 7th inning, but J's team managed to shut down the opponent and win the game, not even needing to take their final at bat as home team.  Every player really stepped up their game and gave their all, earning the victory as a team.

J personally had an outstanding game, scoring two of the four runs, including the first of the game, going 1 for 2 with a walk hitting, and making a couple of great plays.  My favorite was the diving catch he made of a foul ball while playing first base.  He caught the ball as he hit the ground and came up grinning from ear to ear as he displayed the ball in his glove.  He came off the field sweaty, covered in red dirt and grass stains, exuberant about the win.   The coach presented him with one of the two game balls he gave out, citing J's strength at the plate and the excellent way he played two field positions, third base and first base.  The other game ball went to the pitcher, who pitched an excellent game, with a high number of strikeouts.

I love when J has a game like this.  I love seeing the pure, unfiltered joy on his face as he plays this game he loves so much.  He was especially happy to get to play first base last night.  He's a versatile player who can usually deliver wherever the coach needs him  But first base is truly where his heart is and it's where he shines.  He had added reason to play well last night.  J loves a cheering section and he had a huge one for this game.  Not only were hubby, N, A, and I there, but so were my parents and brother, which is usually the case.  His girlfriend A was also in attendance, along with her mom, sister, and brother.  My two friends, G and C came with their kids, and our friend D, who was in town from North Carolina, was also there.  J was especially excited to have D there, since it was the first time he'd ever gotten to see him play.  The only one missing was Coach C, who J had hoped could come since he's on Spring Break this week.  However, Coach C's JV team that he coaches also had a game last night, so he wasn't able to head home until it was over.  We'll be seeing Coach C this weekend at the TP parent/player meeting though, so I'm sure J will tell him all about the game then.  All right, I confess to texting him the highlights last night, and hubby is probably blabbing as we speak since Coach C is now working at hubby's store on a part time basis over school breaks.  But he'll still be glad to hear all the details from J and will be just as proud of him as we are.

J's school team has five games left on their schedule.  After that, he'll be returning to the pool to swim for the club team for the rest of the spring and summer.  And he'll be getting ready for the TP tournament season, which is right around the corner.  First meeting this weekend, with practices likely to start in May once Coach C is home from college for the summer.   If you live close enough or happen to be visiting this summer, plan on joining us for a game or two.