Best praise ever

“Good job, coach!”.  “Great win,sir!”.  “What a comeback coach.”  “I don’t know how you do it but keep on doing it.”  These are some of the best praises I have received over the years of coaching youth baseball.  Of course, when you win and everything is going well, one gets a lot of these.  When you lose a game or two, you receive the harshest of comments….but that is another story.

You live for the good stuff.  Of course my coaching colleagues and I work doubly hard to do well.  Admittedly, these are the kind of compliments you are aiming for…. until just recently.

We just finished a 2 month summer camp.  Here we spend 8 weeks with boys aged 6 to 18, toiling under the heat of the summer sun, running drills as part of their baseball training.  Our group focus on instilling discipline as a building block to learning thus we are very strict.  Players are expected to come in on time in full uniform.  We follow time blocks per skill station so we expect every boy to be at the camp to seriously practice.  They are expected to run from one station to the next.

Many times, as expected a lot of them really get tired and would seem to be at the verge of giving up.  Sometimes you would think that they would not be coming back the following practice day.  The coaching staff gets thrilled however to see that all of them do come back day in and day out.

On the last day of summer camp, we set up a simple ceremony wherein we handed out participation certificates to every player.  We had a small stage, gave their document and took some pictures.  We had pizza, softdrinks, doughnuts to end the day.

In the midst of all this, a 9 year old boy, a rookie in the game came up to me.  He tugged at my shirt as he often does and whispered in my ear,  “I am going to miss you coach.”

This boy over the past 8 weeks is one of the few players who would arrive really early every training.  He would always run towards me the moment I begin walking towards the registration area and pull my shirt as if saying that he was present.  We would banter a bit and talk about his belt, his game over the weekend, where he can get a bat, showing off his new baseball pants and so on.  Oftentimes on the field, he would make sure he would show me his swing asking for tips on how to improve.  More importantly, this young man  worked very very hard.  He follows the coaches’ instructions to the letter.  He would always try to be in step during drills to keep up with the more advanced players.  He, without complaints and groans would simply throw, run and swing the bat when told.   He had a tough baseball summer.

After I heard those words, I knelt on one knee and gave him a big hug.  He hugged be back as hard as his young arms could.  “I will miss you coach,”  he said again.

This is bar none the best tribute ever.

-Our summer baseball club is called Philippine Habagat Baseball Club.

-Pictures are mine