Sports

T-ball finale — Love for the sport, and one another

It was a dark and stormy day: blustering thunder boomed in the Miami Valley, and anxious parents of dedicated t-ballers worried: would t-ball happen that evening? The concern was acute: it was t-ball trophy night, the blowout ballgame/wiener roast/celebration of what we’d done that is held at the end of the t-ball season each summer. It couldn’t be cancelled! And not just for the kids: the parents wanted, needed, this celebration, too.

This summer was hard. Our beloved Coach Jimmy, who has been coaching Perry League t-ball in Yellow Springs for more than 25 years, was involved in a very serious accident in July. Children, parents, grandparents, neighbors and friends rallied to support him and his family: a poster of well-wishes and photos of t-ballers was delivered to his hospital room; a fund was established at local deli and eatery, Current Cuisine, to help his family with the daily necessities; and a “Perry League” facebook page was set up for communication about Coach Jimmy and how to keep t-ball going in his absence. We had to keep it going, for our kids, for ourselves, for Coach Jimmy. To honor what he’s given to us — the love, the patience, the encouragement, the generosity, the kindness — we had to give it to others. Through t-ball.

This was the last night of the season, the capstone event. The potluck was planned (as it is every year) by Tommy’s grandma, Becky Reed, and it was a huge success. We had wieners and veggie dogs, chips of all varieties, fruit, seaweed salads, lollipops, vegan chocolate cupcakes and more. Erin Hankie and Mark Alexander brought the grill, and Aaron Campbell was the lead chef and grillmaster. According to Tommy, 5, his grandma had been keeping the trophies for us for a long, long time: keeping them for the special night. Which was tonight!

While the parents were setting up the food and reacquainting themselves, the kids were busy on the field. Coach Amy Boblitt, who has been subbing for Coach Jimmy during his recovery, led all the kids through the whole process. Sometimes it can be hard to share your mom — your own special mom — with other kids, but Lily, Kian and Veda did it. Thank-you, kids, for sharing her. Your mom is the best.
Even though it was the last night of t-ball this season, there were still breakthroughs. Though Kian Rainey, 4, was sometimes reluctant to hit this season, he hit ball after ball this past Friday and he ran the bases like a champ. Caroline Tucker, 5-and-three-quarters, took a turn fielding (she’s usually more of an offensive player) and pitched balls back to her dad, Scott “The Champion” Tucker, who was on hand to help retrieve. And even little Nico Sajabi, 1-and-a-half, who is usually a spectator, took a turn batting and running.

Ayla Current, 5 and friend Emma Hall, also 5, took turns hitting and then ran together, fingers grasped, affirming their beautiful friendship. The Schindler family (Nathan, Aidan, Alexandra and Wyatt) demonstrated family togetherness and cooperation — not to mention their athletic gifts — by helping each other, cheering for each other and having a fun time.

Coach Amy was aided by base coaches Jennifer Gilchrist, Zach Stephens, Chris Hamilton, Carrie Hankie Campbell, Erin Hankie and Nacim Sajabi, among others. Behind the scenes (though not far behind) were Teri Adoff and Vanessa Hale, who helped keep things organized. And again, the big brothers and sisters (many of them Perry League alumni) were there, helping out and passing on the Yellow Springs t-ball tradition to the younger ones. These included Gavin Elliott’s big sister Hannah, Miles Gilchrist’s big sister Eliza and Mia’s big brother Tristan. They all shared in supervising the more than 50 kids who’d turned out for the last game of the season.

The trophies were on our minds, though, and after the exertion and energy of running around on the field and the preparation and consumption of a great feast, it was finally trophy time. Carson Funderburg, 3, out past his bedtime, received his first t-ball trophy, and was all smiles, as was Rowan Brown, 4, who may have received one before, but who definitely felt a sense of achievement this time around. If you were a t-ball player this year, and were unable to make it to our final night, please stop by Mr. Fub’s Party in Yellow Springs; you can pick up your trophy there.

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