“If you build it, he will come …”
Those seven words are a quote from the 1989 motion picture "Field of Dreams" where the main character, Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner hears a voice telling him, "If you build it, he will come.”
Many may believe that the movie is about having Shoeless Joe Jackson, infamous for the 1919 Black Sox scandal, appear on the baseball field built in the cornfield to redeem himself and his legacy. In my interpretation, it is really more about the poignant moments shared between a father and a son, and the timeless memories that are made learning the game of baseball as a child. I am ever so grateful for the opportunity both my wife and I have to share in those moments with our son Julian who enters his second year of t-ball, along with his Little Rascals teammates.
If you tweak the quote from Field of Dreams just slightly to “If you build it, they will come,” it carries a much different and added significance and meaning for the 2013 El Paso Little Rascals.
The Little Rascals t-ball team, made up of 4-5 year old boys and girls, is in the middle of the spring 2013 season at the renovated County Sportspark.
While the talk around the city of El Paso this spring revolved around the demolition of City Hall to make way for a Triple A stadium, the County of El Paso has stepped up to the plate both literally and figuratively with the long overdue renovation of the old Champions Sportsplex, originally built in 1986. While the full project is not yet complete, the County has held up its end of the bargain by “building” four new first class fields for youth t-ball and baseball and other added amenities that are under way.
After being exiled from the complex for the 2012 fall season due to construction, the Little Rascals along with many other youth t-ball and baseball teams, have made their way back to the familiar smell of wet dirt on sunny spring days in east El Paso for an 18 game season…thus, “If you build it, they (Little Rascals) will come.”
With it being the first time playing for many of the kids, you could sense the nerves and anxiety in the park when the season kicked off on March 27th, but that was mostly coming from the stands; from parents, grandparents and other family members who were not quite sure what to expect from their young athletes.
The Little Rascals players on the other hand, were calm, cool and collected as they got their season off to a solid start with a doubleheader sweep of the Pirates and the Mini Marlins. Over the next four games, the Little Rascals alternated losses and victories; losing to the Lil Indians and Ducks and winning against the Lil Ballers and Thundercats. The Little Rascals completed the first third of the season with a 4-2 record; but most importantly for this age level, they showed continuous progress and improvement on the fundamentals of the game. After all, it all goes back to the precious moments and memories that were being simultaneously made and will be treasured long after any losses or victories can be remembered.
As we continued on our journey, we had the unavoidable postponement of a game against the Royals. This being t-ball, most might reasonably think we were rained out but in this case we were dusted out. What would a true El Paso spring be like without the occasional and famous wind and dust storms that are as familiar to the locals as the bright blue skies that accompany most of our days? Once the skies cleared up again, we faced familiar foes from last spring in the Blaze, Aztecs and Braves.
The Blaze and Braves who dominated most teams last year, including the Little Rascals, en route to highly successful seasons, are bringing up a new crop of kids who showed their youth as the Little Rascals claimed victories against both. We did suffer defeat at the hands and bats of the Aztecs, who similar to the Little Rascals are showing the fruits of their labor from last spring. At the midpoint of the season, the Little Rascals have a 6-3 mark to show for their efforts and hope to continue their successful season into the month of May. As we move into the second half of the season, we do so with the mindset that more than anything else, the kids should have fun and enjoy themselves as they learn the game.
While winning and losing are some of the most basic tenets in sports today and there are lessons to be learned from both, the one thing as coaches and parents that we cannot lose sight of in our message to our children is that the values and principles the Little Rascals have learned and will continue to learn throughout the course of the season are what truly defines a winner.
As a head coach, my competitive nature kicks in and I would be lying to you if I said there was no difference between having a record of 6-3 versus one of 3-6 for example, but as a parent I could not be more honest in saying that I derive greater pleasure from seeing the progress that my son and his teammates make on and off of the field and in their development and interaction with others.
The Little Rascals, indeed, have a field of dreams to set foot on every time we have a game, and it is up to us as parents and coaches to keep them on the right path to help them fulfill those dreams, whatever they may be!