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August 1, 2013

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Used to be, I would use this space in July to regale readers with tales of top-water fishing action or preparations for dove hunting or archery season.

Funny how kids change our schedules just ever so slightly, not to mention pack on the miles for the old minivan.

The rod and reels are collecting dust in the corner of the garage, along with the bow case, hidden behind the lawnmower, which is buried under the kids softball gear.

Such are the sacrifices poor old dads chose to make when they have aspiring young athletes in the house. You never know where the next Yadier Molina, Michael Phelps or Kevin Durant will sprout up, so we water the flowers and watch them grow.

Of course some folks install underground sprinkler systems and employee an army of gardeners to try to produce the perfect plant. Unfortunately for my three blossoms, dear old dad only has the resources to buy a bag or two of fertilizer now and then, so they're forced to deal with the old school book that says plants respond to the voices of their planter, as well as plenty of weeding.

I did splurge a bit this past week for my oldest daughter's birthday. After conferring with some industry experts, I conceded that a good bat might be worth the investment. Of course that's before I saw what they cost. The birthday card joked that this thing was a transformer, and would also be serving as her 16th birthday present, when it would sprout wheels and turn into her first car.

After the bat's debut, I think she'll be keeping it for softball only. A new hit tool had a very nice night at the plate.

I took the opportunity to explain to my wife, that some new, top-level golf clubs perhaps could do the same thing for my golf game. She burst that bubble, pointing out that Abi already had a good swing before the bat, it was just complimenting the existing skills. I heard that I stink at golf no matter how much money I waste on clubs.

My middle daughter made some preliminary inquiries about borrowing the bat, but the two parties' legal representatives could not reach an agreement.

It turned out Katie would have been better served to borrow some football gear. The poor kid is playing against older competition, and found out first hand, well first hip, how hard the pitchers throw.

She now has a replica softball tattooed in black and blue just below her rib cage, complete with the ball lacings and everything. To top off her night, while she was catching, she took a foul ball off her knee. I had to convince her after the game that cheerleading is honestly the most dangerous extra-curricular activity for girls (it accounts for 60 - 70% of the catastrophic sports-related injuries for female athletes).

Katie pointed out she was glad it was her and not her little sister.

Just like the youngest never gets any new clothes, Hannah has to deal with the hand-me-downs on the sports front as well. She seems fine with having to play with used gear. What impresses me more is her unabated joy playing the game, despite the fact she is constantly playing against much older competition.

With just two years difference between her and Katie, Hannah has been forced to deal with her parents selfish demands that she play up in age on Katie's teams. For those of you who spend anytime chasing kids around, you know the difference between having just two teams as opposed to three, is exponential.

We've monitored the experiment, and even have conceded from time to time to allow Hannah to play in her own age division. The conclusion has been, she really doesn't care who she is playing with or against, she just enjoys getting to play.

Therein lies the quandary. All three daughters enjoy playing... everything. Between swim team, softball and basketball summer has escaped us. Oh well, that just means the next season is just around the corner, and in this sports family, season doesn't mean summer or fall.

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