Baseball: A soul-crushing sport?

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Baseball.

What was once regarded as “America’s past-time” has turned into a soul-crushing sport for today’s boys.

Maybe it was “America’s past-time” decades ago when school-aged boys would gather in an empty field, pick teams and just play baseball much like the hit movie “The Sandlot.” What I wouldn’t give for my own 9-year-old to have that type of baseball experience.

But like most other sports these days, it’s not about just playing the game, it’s all about winning 100 percent of the time and that mindset tends to fall on the coaches.

And while I agree that winning is important – especially at the high school, college, minor league and major league levels – is it really that important when the kids are 9 years old and playing recreational baseball?

The Lorain County Hot Stove League my 9-year-old plays for is a “participation league.” And it’s “parent league” – The Ohio Hot Stove Baseball League encourages “players of all abilities.” Hot Stove was first conceived by sports editor Karl Artman, of Selma, Ala. in the early 1930s. His original idea was to form fun clubs where the members could swap ideas and discuss organized baseball in all its phases. Unfortunately, Artman passed away before his ideas had a chance to develop.

I’m not sure when the detail about “having fun” vanished, but seeing young boys with near tears in their eyes and disappointed faces in the dugout while they sit the bench isn’t my idea of fun. Hearing the young boys who don’t play an entire game like their peers beg and plead with their coach to play the field, only to be told “Maybe later” or “We’ll see” isn’t part of the league’s mission statement either.

The concept of my son’s league is to play on a rotation basis. Meaning, you rotate players in and out of play time. That way, in my opinion, when a boy has to sit the bench, he knows it’s only for an inning or two … not four consecutive innings which to a 9-year-old is a lifetime. And, if the coach adheres to the “rotation” rule, sitting the bench would not be seen as a punishment. A

s if sitting the bench isn’t hard enough, the seemingly better players on the team begin to notice their “spot” on the team and become entitled and perceive themselves as God’s gift to baseball.

How are baseball parents supposed to explain to their average baseball player son why he didn’t get to play more than two innings when other players exuding unsportsmanlike attitudes play inning after inning?

What is that teaching our sons? That you can have a fit and then instead of sitting the bench and taking a “time out” you are “rewarded” by being allowed to play the field while the average player would give anything to see the baseball diamond?

How does an adult morally crush a kid’s spirit?

I hate seeing kids on the outside looking in. It drains their psyche whether they can see it or not. They are now “damaged” goods in their own heads while the “chosen ones” continue to act high and mighty.

Today’s youth take it all in. Wherever they go, whatever they do, they understand what is happening in the world around them. Don’t think for a second they are oblivious. Being a parent of a child athlete is tough.

We encourage our children to “go out for the team” and cringe when they only “suit up” and spend most of their time in the dugout.

My dad coached basketball for 25 years. He allowed every player “play time.” And, when his team was ahead, instead of running up the score, he allowed for his “second string” to hit the court. It was his way of allowing them to show him what they had learned at practice.

Sports isn’t like that anymore.

Elementary-aged boys are still trying to figure out where they belong, but when coaches, who should otherwise be role models, cater to only a select few, what is that accomplishing?

Nothing. It accomplishes nothing except creating a mindset that that player is unworthy. And parents are left picking up the pieces of their crushed souls.

 

Melissa Linebrink is an award-winning blogger from Ohio. Follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ParenthoodthenewCrazyTrain! 

 

 

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Winning for Kayden

“All Day.

Every Day.

No Sleep.

100%”

– Kayden D. Williams

I love basketball.

Not college basketball or pro-basketball.

High school basketball.

There is something about the passion the players exude on the court.

The sound of basketball shoes squeaking on the court.

The sound of the basketball hitting the backboard before swishing through the white net.

But on Saturday night, in Elyria, Ohio, there was something more.

Something almost … magical.

That night, two rivals came together to honor one family whose connection to both communities was as strong as the bond shared between siblings.

It was one of love and hate.

The love was for Kayden Williams, and his family.

The hate, well it wasn’t really hate. It was more of a passion burning inside both teams to get the “W” for Kayden.

You see, he and his older brother, KJ, were Wildcats.

His sisters – Pioneers.

Kayden was a Wildcat when he passed away on Dec. 27 from injuries sustained in a single motor vehicle accident on a country road.  KJ graduated from Keystone several years ago.

The Williams family now has two daughters left in high school – and they are both Pioneers through and through.

But on Saturday night, both teams came together to honor Kayden and what he stood for – high school sports – leaving it all on the field/court – and an unwavering dedication to both.

As the game started, the Elyria varsity team ran onto the court wearing a T-shirt remembering Kayden. Moments later, the Keystone varsity basketball team did the same. For several minutes, the two teams just seemed to blend together.

The rivalry paused as the crowd gave a moment of silence for Kayden.

Then, it was game time.

To say both teams gave it 110 percent is an understatement.

It’s as if Kayden was fueling both teams on the court.

But, in the last seconds, it was Brody Kuhl’s three-point shot that gave Keystone the edge they needed to win.

And then, the unthinkable happened. Keystone fans ran onto the court before the game officially ended.

A technical foul was called on Keystone for charging the floor.

Yet, a small miracle happened at the same time. Just as Keystone was charged with a technical foul, the referee determined that Brody had been fouled during his three-point shot.

He was going to the free-throw line.

And he scored.

Elyria also had the opportunity to score due to Keystone’s technical foul, but in the end, the player only made one shot.

The night belonged to Keystone.

It also belonged to the Williams family.

To see Kayden’s brother, KJ jump up and down, cheering for his alma mater was a sight I will never forget.

To watch players run over to the Williams family after the game ended, embracing parents, Sarah and Keenan – I was filled with such pride to be a Keystone Wildcat.

Then, finally to witness Coach Jeff Holzhauer walk over to KJ, saying, “I told ya didn’t I?”

It wasn’t just a win for Keystone Saturday night.

It was a win for the Williams family because I am pretty sure Kayden was whooping and hollering from the heavens just as his family was down on Earth.

Somehow, I think it was his way of letting his family know that he was just fine.

And that in time, they will be too.

 

 

Coping with community deaths

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Death …

I don’t even know where to start.

But I do know this … while searching the Internet, scrolling for the right inspirational quotes to help me get my start, I came across two.

The first one read: “Keep your head up. God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.”

The other read: “Today only comes once.”

Well, in our tiny village, we must be the BEST strongest soldiers because within the past five days, we have endured two life-altering battles.

And we are still here for one another, holding each other up through all the pain.

We will not break, oh no … but we are allowed to hurt.

And we are.

On Saturday, a mom whose children once attended the Keystone Schools, passed away. She was 36; and left behind two children. Her smile was infectious and her hair, stunning.

While parents were left wondering “Why?” and “How did this happen?” all while trying to explain to our children that Jessica is “in a better place” we are really trying to understand … is she really? Is there a better place other than being here on Earth with her two little ones?

So, for five days, parents living and working in the same community that Jessica once did, did the best we could to enjoy the Christmas holiday with our loved ones, all while trying to cope with our own grief.

We put on smiles, ate too much and watched as our kiddos opened presents on Christmas morning.

I’d like to say we were slowly coming to realize our worst fear had come true – Jessica was indeed gone too soon – but I still think most of us are in a state of denial.

Then, just as we began to piece our lives back together, our community and spirits came crashing down.

On Wednesday morning, the word that a 17-year-old Keystone High School student died from injuries sustained in a single car crash spread through the LaGrange and Elyria communities like wildfire.

Kayden Williams – a football player with a heart of gold who was loved by all families in the area – will never step on the football field again. He will never walk the halls of Keystone High. He will never live the life his parents dreamed of for him.

The worst part of Kayden’s death? I had to tell my son, a freshman at the same school, that a fellow student who he saw on a daily basis, died. How does a parent even do that? There isn’t a book, outlining the steps on how to tell your son that someone who had his entire future ahead of him has died. That there is no rhyme or reason why Kayden is no longer spending the holiday break with his parents and siblings.

My 9-year-old daughter said it best … “I know he’s in Heaven with Jesus, but Mom, he didn’t even get to play with his presents from Santa.”

So, on this Thursday – a day when I will be paying my respects to the York family – I will keep my head up.

I will be a soldier for my children, to let them know that bad things happen to good people, and there really is no explanation.

And then, then I will remind them to live each day like it is their last … because TODAY only comes ONCE.

RIP Jessica and RIP Kayden

 

Getting pulled over … causes mom to pause

I couldn’t locate the cash box anywhere in the house. And it was driving me crazy. After looking in everyone’s closet and in the basement, I decided it was either loaned out or simply stolen.

I needed more tables. The tables set up in the garage were already filled with old board games, decorations, bedding, clothes and knick-knacks.

And soccer practice started at 6 p.m.

Dinner had to be made. Dishes had to be washed. The cats needed fed. You name it, it needed to be done.

Add into that the twins were talking to me non-stop all day about the impending garage sale.

“What time does it start?” “Can we make muffins to sell?” “I don’t want to sell my toys, but can I still keep some money?” “What if no one comes?”

I was beyond stressed out and my mind was literally spinning in 100 damn directions.

“Let’s go NOW,” I screamed to my 14-year-old son.

And off we went to soccer practice 4 miles always, my spinning mind and all. The fact is, we left the house early. We had plenty of time to make it to the soccer fields.

But I was in a hurry.

Driving down the road, my mind wasn’t on the drive at all. I wasn’t paying attention at all. I make the 4 mile drive to the community park, once, if not twice per day. I was driving on auto-pilot.

But then I saw the lights go off … and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a finger pointing to me to pull over immediately.

I was caught.

Nearly 1.5 miles from my house, a county sheriff pulled me over.

“I clocked you going 68 miles per hour …” he told me.

I couldn’t even complain as my mind was still racing about what else I had to do that evening for the garage sale.

Digging through my purse, I found my driver’s license and then by some grace of God, I actually put the insurance card in my van the day before, so I pulled that out along with the registration papers.

I have lived in the same county for 16 years and have never had so much as a parking ticket.

My only response was, “Yup, OK. Sorry.”

I know I looked like a trainwreck. I had Jazzercised that morning, and taking a shower was an afterthought to getting the sale ready. I didn’t care how I looked.

Maybe that actually helped my cause? You know the look – hair pulled over with a clip, yoga pants on, coupled with a work-out tank and gym shoes, all sans makeup. I may have had deodorant on, but who knows. Thank God I tossed on  my prescription sunglasses – I am required by the State of Ohio to wear glasses due to my poor vision that over the years has worsened due to being pregnant with the kid(s) I taxi all over the place. So, I actually had on two pairs of sunglasses – my Dollar Tree pair on the top of my head and the $100 pair covering my eyes.

I was a hot mess.

As I sat in the car, looking at my teenage son, I saw the sheriff sitting in his car too. He was running my plates through the system. I knew he’d find nothing on me since I am boring-stay-at-home-mom-turned-taxi-service-in-the-summer.

Making his way back to my vehicle, I knew I was gonna get a lecture about safe driving. I was right. “Doesn’t it bother you when drivers speed down this road? And you have kids! It bothers me and you live on this road, just like me!”

The truth is, yes, it bothers me a lot when motorists speed down my road. But, on the flip side, my kids don’t play in or even near the road. I am more worried about a driver losing control and hitting a tree head on than hitting a kid. I dread the day when I hear a crash only to run out to my front yard to find someone incapacitated. That scares me. That bothers me.

Thankfully, the sheriff only gave me a warning. But it was a warning that changed my life. Ever since that day, I have set my speedometer on 55 miles per hour. I’d rather be late than get pulled over again. It’s just not worth it.

 

Alia Bailey — A fighter for all of us

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I was there.

I saw the wreckage with my own two eyes.

Air-bags deployed from all sides.

Fuel emitted onto the roadway. Flowing like lava until a solution was applied to soak it up.

Eventually, a tow-truck arrived to take the damaged vehicle away.

A SUV with all windows broken – like someone’s heart. Smashed. Destroyed. Gone.

Off to the southeast side of the intersection sat a red truck. I didn’t even know it was involved in the wreck until later on in the day. To me, it looked like it belonged there. Maybe to a rescue unit? I wasn’t sure.

But that red truck destroyed a life. Or rather, the driver of the truck destroyed a family.

A mom and a daughter were on their way to eat a late lunch at Long John Silvers. For all we know, their day had been perfect up until 2 p.m. on Jan. 22.

Maybe they went to church. Maybe they didn’t.

Maybe they slept in late and cuddled underneath the covers.

Maybe they just wanted “mom and daughter time.”

Regardless of the situation, they will never have “mom and daughter time” again.

Today, at 6:34 p.m., 6-year-old Alia Bailey died. Her mother, Nancy Burnett is still recovering from major surgery. Her father, Juan Bailey is doing all he can to hold it together.

Today is also my birthday.

My friends wanted me to go out. I thought about it, but then, I changed my mind.

Something inside of me was telling me “No, don’t go.”

So for once, I listened to the voice.

Instead, I stayed home. We ate Burger King for dinner; my husband and I drank wine; and I opened my awesome gifts – a water container and fluffy socks from the kids and two pairs of shoes from Seth. I didn’t need anything.

After we ate, the five of us sat around the kitchen table playing “The Bean Boozled Challenge.” To sum it up, we ate gross Jelly-Belly Beans. Rotten egg; spoiled milk; stinky socks; and dog food. It was gross. We had a blast. After that, the kids shared cupcakes and later on, cheesecake.

It was perfect – plus, we watched The Alaskan Bush People – who doesn’t love Noah, Gabe, Matt, Bird and the rest of the Brown Gang.

I know it wasn’t the perfect way to celebrate my 39th birthday, but for me, it was perfect. We were all under one roof. And that is something the driver of the red truck took away from the Bailey-Burnett family forever. There will be no more birthdays, no more Christmases and no more Halloweens for little Alia. Her family on Earth is left to mourn her, and remember the girl who loved the Cleveland Cavs.

If Alia could do anything, it would be to never have another child go through what she went through for the past five days. Now, the family has set up a benefit in her memory.

For more information on the event, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/3a5d5sg.

For you Alia, I send all of my birthday wishes to you sweet girl.

 

 

 

Finding balance in fitness

Let me preface this blog with this statement: I’ve never been an athlete – unless you consider marching while carrying a saxophone “athletic.” So please, do not think for one minute that I am a “balls-to-the-wall-fitness-chick.” I am the farthest thing from it. But I do like working out.

But it wasn’t always that way.

Growing up, if the sport had a “ball” of any kind – basketball, volleyball or softball – you can bet I was opting out. Lacking coordination and gumption, the idea of having balls fly in the air around my head scared me.

Cross country and track were never options because those required running. The only time I ran as a young girl or teenager was after the ice cream truck in my neighborhood.

What was a “good time” was swimming and dance (As in the kind where my parents paid an arm and a leg for me to learn how to use “jazz hands” while making “jazz squares” in overly-priced costumes that I loved!).

Eventually, I grew up – maybe.

But as we age, our bodies change and the way we worked out in our 20s and 30s doesn’t help – at least not for me. Cardio used to be “my go-to” form of workout. Raise the heart-rate and burn calories.

And it worked.

Until it didn’t.

My metabolism isn’t what it used to be. I have to pay attention to every single piece of food or drink that goes into my body.

It sucks.

The days of eating bread, pasta and any other “bad” carbs are gone. Those items are reserved for “special cheat days.” And I love pasta!! Who doesn’t?

The days of eating processed food are gone. I barely even go into my pantry any more unless it’s to get my kids something for a snack. The less I go in there, the less processed food will magically find my mouth.

It’s just better for everyone if they get their own damn snack now.

So, now not only do I just stare inside my refrigerator for endless minutes at a time trying to decide which fruit or vegetable to eat, but I am working out differently too.

Inside the LaGrange Yoga Studio is a fierce-force-of-nature. Most days by the end of planking, squatting, push-up-ing, burpeeing and whatever else this force of nature throws at us, I just want to cry or melt into the floor. Sometimes both. Sweat pools in places it shouldn’t; and it also drips off of my body like rain drops falling from the sky, splatting on the floor beneath me.

But, this fierce-force-of-nature is the best motivator I have ever met since moving out to BFE. Julie is kind, compassionate and doesn’t judge. She inspires and keeps it real.

I know making the decision to work out is a tough one.

I know that saying you will exercise is easier than actually driving to a fitness center to workout. And, some schedules allow for people to only work out in the early mornings while others are only able to work out at night. Plus, adding in family time — exercising gets pushed to the back burner until eventually, it’s off the stovetop all together.

And yes, I know that it costs money to workout when so many people have treadmills or exercise videos at home. I give you credit, lots of it, if you workout at home. I literally work from home, and somehow I have taught my brain to shut off “mom/wife brain” for several hours a day while I write. However, I cannot shut that part of my brain off long enough to workout. My brain wanders into the far corners of my basement where clothes need sorted and toys need to be tossed into a bin to go to Goodwill. The kittens walk all over my yoga mat and then nip at my legs while I am crunching The phone rings. You name it – I am doing everything BUT working out.

So, yes, for me, paying a fee to workout is my motivation. I split my time between MetaFit classes; simple fitness classes; “Fit and Fab 50” classes; and today, I even stuck around for a Silver Sneakers class. (Don’t let the name fool you – those ladies are anything but “silver …”)

It’s not cheap, but really … what’s your life worth to you?

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Personal hygiene and kids – don’t mix

 

Kids are gross.

I just spent 10 minutes, maneuvering my body in ways I never imaged while on my son’s top bunk. There I proceeded to scrape snot off the walls.

True story. I even used a SOS-type pad to remove even the hardest stuck-on goo.

Apparently walking the four steps to the ground is too much for him. Plus, he would have to walk an extra five steps to the bathroom where the tissues are kept.

It’s just too much for a tired 8-year-old boy.

Now, he has a mini tissue box stuffed in the corner of his bunkbed. Mounds of tissue will begin to accumulate any night now and will litter the bed like freshly fallen snow.

This comes about three hours after I asked my daughter, KK, why her hair has been greasy ever since Dec. 20.

To which she replied, “I only wash it with conditioner … that way I only have to touch my hair once, instead of twice.”

She now has “shampoo-plus-conditioner in one” now to avoid any confusion on whether or not she needs to wash or just conditioner her curly hair.

(Blame all goes to my husband, Seth, on this one. I have straight-thin-as-an-arrow-hair while he has the beautiful, thick curly hair that our oldest, Ethan and KK inherited.)

I’m not entirely sure what happened over Christmas break, but my husband and I learned a lot about our children.

Mainly, they would rather do anything than worry or care about personal hygiene.

Even the teenager is tossed into the mix.

He is on a mission to grow his hair. I’m not sure how long this will last, but I have told him repeatedly that if he grows his hair long enough, I will cut it and make it into a usable wig for myself.

I give him to the end of this week before he is begging for a trip to the local barbershop. (Peer pressure from his classmates is going to win this non-battle-battle of haircare.)

Usually lack of personal hygiene care only shows its dirty head in the summer months.

But, in the summer, noses rarely run and since we have a swimming pool, showers, hence hair-washing, only takes place every couple days.

Don’t judge – in our house, if you are in the pool for an extended period of time, especially within the hour before bed, there’s no need for a real shower. Sure, sure, I know all about chlorine … but sometimes, kids just need to be kids. Besides, I survived just fine. Yes, my hair may have tinted a slight green but back in the 1980s my mom banned me from doing anything to my hair except getting a perm, so having it turn green was kinda cool in my book.

Ah, but now we are back into our routine; and new rules are being enforced (such as using a tissue for snot and washing hair with shampoo which I assumed they knew all along, but I was wrong).

Now if only I can convince my teenage son to actually grow his hair until the summer, I may just have enough to cut and use as a ponytail!

 

Melissa Linebrink is a columnist and award-winning part-time reporter for The Chronicle-Telegram. Read her award-winning blog athttp://parenthoodthenewcrazytrain.com. She can be reached at mlinebrink@chroniclet.com or 329-7243. Follow her on Twitter @MLinebrinkCT.

 

 

 

 

 

Melissa Linebrink

The Chronicle-Telegram

Reporter/Columnist

440-315-7303 (cell)

440-355-6494 (M-Th – home; Friday – office)

440-329-7243 (office)

mlinebrink@chroniclet.com

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