Oct
16
2018
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Sports

Sky-high enthusiasm of T-ballers

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Go to the Facebook page “Perry League T-Ball” and you’ll see “a bird’s eye view of our kiddos having fun,” says Sarah Badger. Her 3-year-old son David is almost always the first kid on the field every Friday. And this Friday, July 13, his dad, Daniel Badger, flew over Gaunt Park and took a picture of all of us in action. Check it out. It is a nice and an unusual perspective. Thanks, Sarah. Thanks, Daniel. Thanks, David.

Kids get hit by balls sometimes — a lot fewer than you might expect. But when they do, I am almost always surprised and impressed with their resiliency, their bravery, their ability to deal with it: have the pain, sometimes cry and almost never quit, preferring to continue to play ball. Like Cameron Richeson, 6, a boy who has been a Perry League T-ball player since he was 1-and-a-half years old — he started playing T-ball in the summer of 2013! That makes this summer his sixth summer. He’s what you might call “an old pro.”

Well, Friday night he got stung by a ground ball. It hit him on the left leg, his upper calf, that ball taking a crazy bounce just as it reached him. Cameron was stunned. He lifted his foot off the ground. “It hurts!” he said clearly, adamantly. His face was a bit flush, his eyes tearing up, but he did not cry. 

Amelia Linse — it is pronounced “lin-zee,” not “lens” as I had thought; Amelia’s mom, the lovely blue-eyed Bailey, told me, she herself having endured years of people mispronouncing her name — was right next to Cameron when that ball skidded off his leg and she was very solicitous. Her hand on his shoulder, “It hurts,” Cameron said again. But he also said he didn’t need water or his mom or dad, that he was fine and would just keep playing. And he did, another small act of bravery that is part and parcel of the life of a child.

Nico June Hange, 3, a dreamboat of the Perry League, she accepted her mother Brandy Hange’s help — so many of our players say it in a hundred different ways, the music different for each child, but the lyrics the same: “No. I can do it myself. No. I do not want help. No! No!” So Nico June’s immediate “Yes,” to her mother’s question, “Do you want some help hitting the ball?” surprised me. And once again I am inspired to be my best self by this sweet, patient, offer of help; and by Nico June’s immediate and sweet and loving response, “Yes, I do.” I see this sweetness, this kindness, this tender caringness week in and week out and it is a salve, a balm, to my early-childhood-wounded heart. I watch, I listen, I see, and I hear the love, and I heal. 

To whom do I write my check? Do you take credit cards? I am happy and eager to pay for such loving gifts.

Good people come back all the time. Like Janine and Pat Partee, who are back to watch one of their five grandkids, Derrick Partee Fleming, 2. And Janine, bless her, stepped in to tend to our “store” — we sell T-shirts and try to get moms and dads to give us names, ages, phone numbers. Janine and Pat are a great couple, two fine individuals who are teasingly worried about Derrick being too much to handle. I assure them, though he is a firecracker, he’s great. “He loves to bat” Pat says, which is true: he’s constantly circling the tee at home plate like a fly buzzing about an open bottle of honey.

Stefani Lewis, a stellar, long-term T-ball volunteer, usually runs our store. But she has been told by her doctor to stay off her feet. She got a nasty cut on her left foot at work about ten days ago and some of the nine stitches she needed were coming out. So no more walking around for a while. We’re sorry she’s been laid up. She’s a steady, reliable, smart, friendly, organized and often-hilarious colleague. It was hard having to do without her. All the more reason we were grateful to Janine Partee for stepping in.

And that’s our amazing Perry League, Yellow Springs’ T-ball program for girls and boys, 2–9 years of age. We’ll be out there at Gaunt Park for the next three Friday nights, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., trying to have some fun. If you have a minute or two, you might come out and join us. You might find yourself energized, enthused, and delighted — as many of us do every Friday night.

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