Sports

What an opening night at t-ball!

Oh, what a night!

Lily Rainey, 9, Kian Rainey, 4, and Veda Rainey, 2, Amy Boblitt and Brian Rainey’s kids, are there when I show up, ready and raring to go. Anaya Adoff, 5-and-a-half, is back; the delicate, dark-eyed beauty snaps at the plate, uncoiling at 90 mph like a spring tightly wound suddenly let loose. Dorothy Haddison, 7, is back, with her little brother Roy Gano, 5. Dorothy beamed up at me with a look of pure self-confidence, her hair cut short in a close to the scalp pixie cut — it is like a soft halo accenting the beauty of her face — she tells me breathlessly at the end of the night, “I was at bat six times!” This is because Matt Collins started up a second diamond, we had so many kids. Matt’s daughter, Tiger (Van Ausdal) Collins, 6-and-a-half, has stolen my heart again with her strawberry blonde hair, her freckles, her own glove, and her serious, hard-working, energetic, athletically-gifted, non-stop fielding.

“This is more than I have ever seen on an opening night,” Dusty Hall said.

Emma Hall, Dusty’s 6-year-old daughter is radiant again, she who had an extraordinary neurosurgery three years ago, before which she could barely walk, before which she had been in considerable, nearly paralyzing pain. She was all exuberance! And love! She and her great friend Areya Harker, 5, another t-ball veteran, they rushed me! The tops of their heads barely reaching my waist, they latched onto me, clutching my legs, giving me a fierce pair of full, strong-armed hugs!

Aidan Scavone, 6, was like a vacuum cleaner on the field, scooping up ball after ball. A cool kid in his red cap and shades, skilled and focused in the field, he got nervous and out of sorts, at the plate. The boy was worried. Scared. Can I do this? Can I do this? But his mom, Jennifer, was right there, tender, patient, loving, encouraging, and after a hesitant first try, Aidan found his groove and hit the ball with the same confidence he had exhibited in the field.

Ayla Current, 6, was back and just as beautiful and swift and delightful as ever. Sierra “Boo” Sundell-Turner, was back, and at the plate this summer, even hitting the ball, no mean feat for a 2-year-old who isn’t even as tall as the tee. Mia Campbell, 6, rolled out onto the diamond again, as loving and open and sweet as ever, her skill level most impressive: she had a strong, quick and powerful swing, hitting the ball off the tee on her very first swing. Mateen Sajabi, 5, was a delight, full of joy and kindness: he consistently cheered other kids on, coaching and nurturing the other kids. It was a wonder and delight to see, this young boy being so loving and caring. He was like a coach, a teacher, his face softened and lit with love and concern, his words specific and individualized: “You can do it, David. You can do it, Matthew. Yes, you can! Yes!”

We had new kids, too, like Beau Kleinholt, 3, who wanted to be at the tee every bat, every time over and over and over again. Wanting the ball off the tee. That ball. No other ball. Coming to get it, taking it, his dad, Robert, doing yeoman work! Trying to keep up with such a strong spirit! And Justin Hamilton, 6, and his little brother Alex, 4, a pair of dedicated die-hard ball players:

“I’m the only one playing,” Justin said at the end of the evening when the crowd has dwindled. “Oh, I’m sorry,” I said and he was cool: “It means I get more balls.”

Sommer McGuire, 4-year-old Maddy’s mom, was our third-base coach, a vital force in this Perry League; Lindsey Hardman was at second and Scott “The Champion” Tucker was at first. The base coaches help the children know where to go, when to go. Some (quite a few actually) hit the ball and then chase after it, trying to field their own ball, not knowing (or caring much) about “running the bases.” These three adults, who were out there all night long, 90 minutes without break (this is an awesome thing, to hang in there that long; many volunteers don’t, can’t, won’t, lasting 15–20 minutes on average before they disappear, poof!).

Matt Grushon was another vital force. He went with his two stunningly attractive kids, the handsome and quite mature for his age Isaac, 7, and the billboard beauty Vivian, 4, over to the second diamond with Matt Collins. They, along with Josh Haddison, and a couple of other dads, made it possible for kids like Dorothy Haddison, Josh’s daughter, to get to bat six times. “Seven, now!” she exclaimed as we lined up for our final run of the evening.

On the smaller diamond I was graced by the loving, dedicated, enthusiastic, and charming work of Amy Boblitt — she was my on-deck coach, getting each kid from our bench coach — and the amazing, organized, joyful, gifted communicator, Erika Grushon. These two wonders lined the kids up, got their names, made sure everyone got a turn, “feeding” them to me at home plate, the two of them working the whole 90 minutes, too, which is a very big deal: you try directing, counting, herding, caring for and keeping track of 45–50 kids, each a dynamic, clamoring creative creature in his or her own right. I’ll tell you about the people who throw out balls next week.

And that’s the Perry League, Yellow Springs’ t-ball program for girls and boys 2–9 years of age. We’re open to all our community’s children regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, ability or disability, sexual or spiritual or religious orientation. We’ll be out there at Gaunt Park every Friday night for the next nine weeks (till our final trophy-potluck picnic night, August 9), from 6:30–8 p.m. Won’t you come on out to see us? Play with us? We’d love to have you, we really would.

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