There are moments that I know I will never forget. I've had a lot of complaints about youth sports and there are moments that the parents are overwhelming and coaching is just a tremendous commitment and you look from the sidelines or you look from the field and you wonder if it's all worth it.
It's about long nights, the struggles to keep your kids focused to work hard, the long drives, the money, the time. All of it makes you wonder sometimes. But events like tonight well, they remove all doubt. Picture a regional championship tournament, this one happens to be the Pacific Southwest Regional Tournament for Cal Ripken, but it could be any tournament around this country.
I am savoring one of those amazing moments that now is captive to my memory, locked in my heart and know I will never surrender it to anyone. I will keep it close forever.
These are the moments that will keep me showing up for youth sports as long as they want me — as long as my kids will have me.
The game ended with a spectacular throw home from centerfield after a diving catch. it was hard to believe there could be any more excitement. But for me, the moment that moved me to tears was well after the game was over.
I made a habit of making my son run after he's pitched. It's well-known that lactic acid builds up in the muscles of pitchers and running helps create additional circulation to cleanse the muscles of that acid creating a less sore pitcher, faster recovery and overall better health.
I mentioned to the coach that Matthew, my son who just pitched a complete six-inning game to win the first regional tournament game, should run.
Coach nodded and turned to Matthew and said Pappas, our last name, you need to run. He also said to the team someone needs to pick up our pitcher and run with him. In that moment I got a huge lump in my throat, a tear came to my eye.
I have to admitI I got a bit choked up. To my surprise and other players, the entire youth baseball team, every 11-year-old to a man turned around and begin to run with my son.
There was no prompting, no need for encouragement, the lessons of youth sports, and sportsmanship, and team play, and supporting your fellow human, all came to fruition in that moment and if asked I would readily admit to each and every one of those 11-year-olds on the team, I was humbled.
If ever you don't believe there is immense value in youth sports, I invite you to one of our games.
There you will you see the lessons learned after years of baseball in action with the spectacular group of 11-year-olds and the value of youth sports.
Robert Pappas is a Long Beach resident and youth sports coach.