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Love! Love! Love! at T-ball

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It was another wonderful night at T-ball. Bryce Fleming, 6, was back after his family’s vacation to San Diego. Bryce is a complete ball player: excited and enthusiastic, confident in his running, hitting, and fielding skills, as he should be, his joy and happy happy happiness infectious, thank you. Sophia Purdin, 5, is simply astonishing: she helped her dad, John, throw balls out to kids from along the first base line, came animated and happily explosive to the plate, hitting quickly, strongly, then raced around the bases with such vim and vigor, she could have been the embodiment of an early summer tornado. Ayira Carley, a very coordinated and thoughtful player, needed no guidance at the plate. Nor on the bases which she flew around, her head held high. Her little sister, Angela, 3, was focused and determined, beating her loving mother Shona Jackson to first base where her handsome father Rob Carley was waiting for her as our first base coach.

Tommy Moore, 8, always wants the tee pulled up as high as it will go — the tee is one hollow rubber tube pressed down and inside another hollow rubber tube; the inner tube can be pulled up or pushed down to satisfy the needs and desires of our individual T-ballers. How high, how low, do you want it? Tommy, with the tee pulled all the way up, as high as it will go, hits the first of his four home runs and zooms around the diamond at nearly the speed of light, being sure to slap the tee, knocking it down, when he comes racing home to score his run. Nice going, Tommy.

Zander Breza, 3, was back for his fourth night of t-ball with his mom, Jeanna GunderKline. Dad Mark Breza was there, too, but not the whole clan as in weeks past when aunt Eve and uncle Brock (both visiting from Chicago) came, when grandmother Molly came, when granduncle Johnny (visiting from Minnesota) came, and when grandfather Keith came. We love it when whole clans show up. Zander seemed to enjoy it, too.

Avery Tobias, 6, charmed me with her knowing smile and an approving nod when I showed off my good memory and spelled her last name correctly. She was an expert infielder catching scores of ground balls and then quite deliberately and competently threw them to coach John Purdin along the first baseline. Several times she wound up and threw the ball over John’s head, and over the chain link fence behind him as well. She laughed and beamed proudly as she told me that was what she had wanted to do, to throw the balls into that open space behind and beyond him.

“Look at her run!” I exclaimed to the toddler’s mom, Molly Lawhorn. “She’s two? Really?” I asked, her athletic prowess astounding me. She was Amari Lawhorn who could be a two-year-old weight lifter if there ever were such a thing. She was built like someone who had been working out, the muscles in her arms and legs large and well defined. It was when she ran that I saw her natural physical giftedness as she pumped her arms in perfect sync with her charging gait. At the end of the night, after we had run out to and back from the lamppost overlooking right field, she said, “I want to run again.” Molly was ready to go home, but Amari was insistent, so we led her to home plate. “On your marks,” I said, “get set,” and then I blew my whistle and our young Olympian raced off, sprinting all the way to the lamppost about 250 feet away. She paused there, looked back at us, and then she took off again, cutting a beeline all the way back to her mom waiting for her on the third base line. A powerhouse, a magical, mighty, joyous powerhouse.

Brendan “Dogburger” Dahlberg, a great young baseball player, showed his caring, his nurturing, his natural-coach’s heart: he brought balls to the tee and then standing close to the tee, he would crouch down, hunching his arms into his body as if he were batting, and tell and show the child at the tee how to do it. This sort of generosity is a very common and a very wonderful thing about these t-ball kids. I see the giving, I see the loving, I see the kindness, it’s natural, it’s spontaneous, and it just melts my heart.

Just as did seeing grandfather Rob Gay, one of our main infield coaches, squatting near the pitcher’s mound with his two-year-old granddaughter Clara Gay scooched into him, snuggling blissfully into him, his chin touching the top of her head. Love! Love! Love!

And that’s our Perry League, Yellow Springs’s T-ball program for all our community’s kind and loving, joyful and athletic children ages 2–9 regardless of race, color or creed, sexual orientation, ethnicity, spiritual inclination, ability or disability. We will be at Gaunt Park every Friday night from 6:30–8 p.m. Children can begin to play at any time and there’s no requirement to play every week. Come when you like, come when you can. We’ll be out there for the next six Friday nights, till our final wiener-roast potluck-picnic, trophy-to-every-kid-who-shows-up night, Aug. 5. So, why don’t you come on out, and be with us and these amazing kids -— and if you see some kid or parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle, brother or sister do something remarkable, loving, amazing or fabulous, then you know you’ve come to the right place. A place where everyone is welcome.


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