Walking to the parking lot after school today I cruised right past our girl’s softball team. As they headed out to the field to play a game, dressed proudly in Lynwood Knights gear top to bottom, I heard an enthusiastic, “Hi Mr. Alan,” from one of the girls on the team.
I looked up and saw Patti. (Not her real name.)
“Hi, Patti,” I replied with a smile. She shyly looked down and continued on. Me, I went to the car with a smile on my face as well. Why?
Because a year ago at this time, I was seriously worried whether or not Patti would still be a part of Lynwood High School. She had “drama” going on like no one’s business. Friends who got jumped, she ditched/missed a ton of school, had an older sister who she went to the abortion clinic taking Patti with her for support (a sister who had already dropped out of Lynwood and was NO WAY going to share the news with her parents) and on and on. Patti was someone I felt a great deal of concern for. Bright, but troubled. Intelligent but tempted. Good but attracted to being bad as well.
She was already at one of life’s great forks, at a mere 15 years old.
But there Patti was, getting ready to go play girl’s softball against one of the local schools in, what I am sure would be, a fierce match.
That moment reminded me of why sports are so great. I have no idea what turned Patti around — or if it’s gonna stick — but seeing her doing something so “regular kid like” brought warmth to me today. Playing sports helped to save me when I was a teen, I am sure of it. And then, as I got older, the personalities of various sport’s stars and a deep discovery of the mental aspects requisite to really succeed in sports helped get me through the next series of wild frontiers in my 20’s.
Some people think things like girl’s softball is just, well… girl’s high school softball. Other people know it can be all the difference in the world to a young person’s life.