Change of pace

From lawn to game play — and maybe the ice

By Holly Vanorse Spicer | Jun 30, 2019
Courtesy of: Holly Vanorse Spicer Carter Spicer, 4, on base during his first tee-ball season.

Something happens when your children start participating in sports on the team level, and not the "play in the yard level." It's a sort of building excitement, smashed in with pride.

I've always had an inkling that my 4-year-old son, Carter, was going to play some type of sport in some capacity.

Between our active lifestyle, and love for sports, it only seemed to be a natural thing for him to gravitate towards something.

This past winter, with the way one of the high school ice hockey games I was to cover fell time-wise, it was best for me to grab him from daycare early, and bring him along to the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport.

Because he is typically glued to my leg when there's a crowd, and an unfamiliar place, I figured it would be alright as we would stand behind the glass, down at the far end of the rink, and he could safely follow me back and forth as I took photos and video.

In an interesting twist, he only lasted roughly four minutes at my side. He moved towards the bleachers, eyes wide, and plopped himself down on a seat to take in the game.

When he found out that I had to cover another ice hockey game just a few weeks later, he begged to come.

He likes basketball, baseball, running, has taken an interest in tennis, and lacrosse as well. Soccer was, of course, his favorite.

Until he saw ice hockey beyond the television.

The problem is, the coordination of my son is, well, rather lacking. I'm sure his brain convinces him that his body is moving faster than it actually is, and the struggle with keeping one foot in front of the other — and on the ground — comes into play.

I don't have enough fingers and toes to count how many times, running on the lawn, kicking the ball around, he either tripped over himself running after the ball — or tripped over the ball.

So when I saw the notification that the Thomaston Recreation Department was holding sign-ups for tee-ball, and he was old enough, I figured this was the best, easiest starting point.

I just wasn't sure he would be interested, which could be an issue.

He's a cautious child when it comes to new things. He's also an observer more than a participant at first. Once he warms up, he is an entirely different child. He's also significantly louder too.

Surprisingly, he was more than interested. He wanted to start playing right that very moment.

So off I went to buy a tee, and some rubbery baseballs, to go with our Boston Red Sox bat that friends of ours from Boston gave him years before as a gift.

And from that moment, practicing hitting off the tee consumed quite a few afternoons in the yard before his first "official" practice.

I won't lie, I was surprised we made it through the first practice.

He stood back, behind the group, quietly watching. Either my husband or I had to "help" him on the field, and when he wasn't looking, slowly back away so he would get used to being out there without us, and understand, this was his thing he did on his own.

Then, as children do, some of the older teammates swooped in and took him under their wing. Showed him how to hold his glove to catch, how the best way to throw overhand and where the best spot to stand in the infield.

They helped him run the bases — which I appreciated. The poor boy has a terrible sense of direction and always went to third first.

I knew when he didn't say that he was done, that he didn't want to go back, we were good. We were okay.

A few practices, and a season-worth of games in, he got the swing of it.

Sure, he gets distracted. Talking with the first baseman, or the faux pitcher. Or he sees that second base isn't quite level, and sticking up from the ground a bit, so he just absolutely has to fix it, never mind that he has a teammate coming from first and he needs to run to third.

He's picked up on the importance of teamwork, and working with others. Of course he also is getting excellent practice using his "listening ears" too.

He also is running without tripping himself up. Knocking the ball on the first try.

He's talking about trying soccer this fall, and working on his eye-and-feet coordination at home, so maybe, just maybe, he will be ready for the skates this winter.

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