Perry League creates lasting joy
- Published: August 10, 2023
By Coaches Yunus Brevik and Margi and Rob Gay
Most likely, you’ve heard the expression, “the pursuit of happiness.” It’s a phrase used to describe a journey, a thoughtful process that leads to what is usually an imaginary place. It implies there is a location or state of being that if reached, will provide a state of uninterrupted bliss. It’s a destination many pursue, but few ever completely attain.
We all face a daily onslaught of products and services that promise to deliver a better result, or to enhance some area of our life that may seem deficient. If we do this, or buy that, our lives will somehow be complete. Although there may be a temporary change in our short-term outlook, most are fleeting pursuits, none of which are able to deliver a sustainable version of happiness long term.
I believe what we’re actually seeking is joy.
There is a distinction between happiness and joy. Unlike the pursuit of happiness, which is mostly dependent on external sources, joy comes from within, an internal condition that delivers eternal rewards. I believe it is a state of being we are all born with and have carried all along. The advantage of adopting this approach in life is that all the things needed to achieve this state of being are readily available and free to all. It can be found through a kind gesture, a warm smile or a hearty laugh, delivered from the heart. These shared experiences draw us closer together as humans. They offer the potential to deliver this priceless and limitless commodity — joy!
The children who have graced the field of play on Friday nights this summer are wellsprings of this precious resource. They pour it out. The kids, in a sense, are joy-generators. They do so with dramatic expressions of the verbal and nonverbal variety; joy flows from each of them in an abundant everlasting stream.
Laughter is the expression of joy we most often witness on the playing field. It ranges from a subtle chuckle, to the side-splitting, tear-producing, uproarious type, joy expressed in abundance.
Research shows that children laugh about 400 times a day, whereas adults on average laugh only around 15 times each day. It is apparent that if adults laughed more, we would likely experience more joy in our lives.
Our players have other ways to dole out joy. Their antics at the plate, in-field and off the field of play, project this heartwarming trait.
Last Friday, it began during a conversation with our first player to arrive, Chloe. She arrived wearing her minor league uniform, worn this year while playing for the Yellow Springs Guardians. When asked about the differences in the leagues’ rules, she quickly pointed out that one is coach pitch, and here we hit off a batting tee. Coach Rob pointed out that in Perry League each batter receives 1,000 strikes versus the three you get in Little League, to which she replied: “So basically infinity?” When the concept was questioned, she rephrased it, stating, “It never ends” — which is correct. The fun never ends, either.
David, 8, was our leadoff batter. He’d chosen the wood bat for his at-bat and mentioned his dad challenged him to try a wooden bat this time. Turns out it was a good choice — David stroked a solid hit to right centerfield.
Coach Becky supplied noise makers for all the children as a celebratory gesture to our final game. The smiles, laughter and collective noise emanating from the bench area most closely resembled a flock of geese; it was a joyful noise!
Trudy, 5, came to bat with her noisemaker in mouth and missed her first swing. Coach Yunus suggested: “Maybe you’re supposed to blow the noise maker at the same time when you hit the ball.” She then swung while blowing on the noisemaker, and by golly, she hit the ball.
It didn’t appear as if Magnus, 2, shared that feeling, as it made concentrating at the tee seemingly impossible. After a short pause and reset, he was able to block out the chaos erupting from the bench and solidly put the ball in play.
On the opposite end of serious was Aria, 8, who came to bat and said, “This is going to be the last time I ever bat in my whole life … just kidding! It’s actually just my last time this year.”
Later we witnessed Parker, 5, skip around the bases after a successful hit. She finished her run with a cartwheel on the final leg between third base and home plate — her performance exuded joy.
Teddy, 5, after hitting, ran from third base into home, stopped, sat down in the dirt, and said: “I slid into base!”
Ida, 4, made quite an impact with her plate appearance. Sporting fancy sunglasses and an animal print dress, she resembled an individual with celebrity roots. A sucker protruding from her lips was the only evidence of her childlike status.
After patiently observing each Friday, Thea, 7, wanted to hit on the last night of the 2023 season, and was introduced as Thea. Also, River, 4, decided to take his first at-bat this season. Both Brevik kids had awesome T-ball swings that produced solid hits and a broad smile from River, Thea, and their father, Coach Yunus.
Joy radiated from a T-ball parent recently. It emanated from David Boyer, father to Miles, 2, and Josie, 5, as he shared that he too was a Perry League alumnus, a participant in the early 1990s. Although he didn’t have any specific recollections from that era, he did remember it was “a lot of fun.” A warm smile reflected from his face as he spoke about the fond memory. Joy, it seems, doesn’t have an expiration date.
We were so happy to share our joy with a family visiting from Utah. Sonny, 8, plays Little League back home; his father shared he had much more fun playing in our unstructured Perry League Friday night, and we loved having him participate!
Due to the excessive heat, we abbreviated play this last game of the season. When play ended, the kids were treated to a tub of water balloons delivered via golf cart to cool off at the end. The kiddos were positively joyful. Thanks, Sarah Amend, mom to Allie, 7. And, tattoos were available and skillfully administered by Nya Brevik with support from her siblings River and Thea.
Next up was our end-of-year cookout except without the cookout. No one wants to stand over a hot grill to cook 250 hot dogs during an excessive heat advisory — so, we opted for pizza this year. Families brought delicious side dishes and desserts to share.
As we reflect on the passing of another Perry League season with a twinge of sadness, we even more appreciate the joy the volunteers experienced from the interactions with the players, their parents, caregivers and observers. Perry League is a community effort, and we are so thankful for the countless helpers and supporters that participated each week.
The memories and feelings from this summer will warm our hearts during those cold dark days of winter. Our spirits will be lifted by the hope and promise of the upcoming 2024 season, for we know joy will always prevail.
We will see you then for our Perry League all-volunteer program that is non-competitive, free and open to children aged 2–9, regardless of their race, color, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, spiritual inclination or practice, ability or disability.