Over the years, I have realized that there are two types of travel baseball families. I say families because, at the younger ages, which category you fall into is often a direct reflection on the parents rather than the player. Ultimately, it is the parent that pays the money, drives to the games and makes the final decision on for which team their child plays.
If you are playing travel baseball, or have a child playing, I am sure they are talented and enjoy the sport. People have so much time and money invested that anything less would be a waste. There are a lot of talented players. There is always someone practicing when you are not. However, talent is just part of the equation when it comes to determine what type of travel ball player and family you are.
The first type of player/family is selfish. Unfortunately, this type seems to be more and more common. The word “loyalty” is not in their vocabulary. Sure, the kid plays hard and attends all practices. However, his eyes and his parent’s eyes are always looking for something better. Parents wonder if a different team could feature their son more. The player wants to play shortstop instead of second base. They want a trophy and don’t care who or what they have to sacrifice to get it. The selfish player and his family are always on the lookout for what they think is a better opportunity and will abandon their current team at the drop of a hat to take advantage of it.
The other type of travel ball player is the team player. This player plays for the name on the front of his jersey, not the name on the back. Together with the coach and other families, the team player and his family enter into a relationship of trust and loyalty. That coach will do everything he can to teach the player how to play the game of baseball the right way. He will try to have a positive impact on the young man’s life. The player and family will support the coach and other families on the team. Everyone encourages each other and doesn’t constantly worry about where they play or where they are placed in the batting order. They just want to help the team win. They take satisfaction in working hard with a group of teammates to work toward a common goal. The team player and his family genuinely care about everyone else on the team.
As a coach, of course I want to win games. I enjoy watching the boys celebrate a tournament victory. The smiles on their faces and realizing that their hard work and dedication paid off is what it’s all about. But remember that those championship celebrations are twice the fun if you are celebrating with teammates…real teammates.
There are plenty of places to play if you are the selfish player. If you are talented enough, I am sure you can find a place. I have been fooled before and made mistakes with the teams I have coached.
I won’t make those mistakes again.