I wrote last week’s column just a few hours after my youngest son, Lindell, attended tryouts for Little League baseball. We did not know the results yet, and I was waiting with that painful, heavy anxiety that most mothers will recognize when we worry for our children.
Lindell had not made the team last year, and the emotional fallout afterward was both a lesson in humility for him and a catalyst to try harder. My husband had told him that we don’t always get what we want, especially when we haven’t put in the hard work to earn it, and that pep talk eventually led to 12 months of Lindell focusing on doing everything he could to make the team this year. All year long he asked, “Do you think I’ll make it this time?”
All year long we told him, “Keep working hard and there will be no doubt that you tried your best.”
After last week’s column, in which I left readers with a cliffhanger, everyone wanted to know: Did he make the team? The attendant at the gas station asked. So did the cashier at the grocery store and people at city hall. Even my oldest son Ford’s teachers at the high school and the doctor who removed his wisdom teeth several days later asked him if we knew yet. (Ford, still under anesthesia does not remember this conversation. Incidentally, he also doesn’t remember that he was humming Star Wars when he came out of the surgery room.)
So I’m delighted to tell you that Lindell made the team. In fact, he will be on the same team his brothers played on for 6 years. When Lindell was 5 years old, they enlisted him to be the team’s mascot, and he regularly ran the bases in a full-on lion costume.
On Saturday, when Lindell found out that he would be a Lion now, too, he could hardly contain his excitement. “I made it?” he asked. “I really made it?”
Hard work pays off.
Since so many readers were interested in the outcome of this year long story, I decided to interview Lindell (with comments from his brothers thrown in) for today’s column.
Mom: Explain what it felt like to not make the team last year.
Lindell: It was awful when I didn’t make Little League last year. I felt jealous when I saw people around school wearing their baseball hats, and I was disappointed in myself for not trying as hard last year.
Mom: You did a lot of work this past year to get ready for the 2017 tryouts. You did sit-ups with Dad in the living room and push-ups on the swim dock. You also did some one-on-one practice with other players and coaches. What do you think helped you the most to get ready for the tryouts?
Lindell: I think that the thing that helped me the most was playing catch and catching fly balls and grounders. Also, I went to a lot of clinics. I feel like I was stronger from exercising, too.
Mom: What about your mindset before the tryouts? Did you think about the tryouts differently this year as opposed to last year?
Lindell: This year I thought of the tryouts as a way to show what I can do. Last year I felt a little cocky, like I would definitely make it.
Owen: He didn’t make it last year because, although he was good, he decided he would just make it, and he didn’t practice for about two months. He lost his skill. He worked a lot harder this year.
Mom: Lindell, did you ever hum the Rocky theme song to yourself during tryouts?
Lindell: (laughing) No, I did not.
Mom: How will it feel when you get to put on the uniform this year?
Lindell: It will feel great, and I will feel accomplished.
Mom: You used to act as the mascot (a lion) for the team (the Lions) that you will now play for. Did the players used to seem really big to you? And can you believe that you are one of them now?
Lindell: The players seemed like giants back then, and now my mind is blown that I am one of them!
Ford: Lindell was pretty small when he wore the lion costume at the field.
Mom: What is your advice to other kids who don’t make a team when they try out for it?
Lindell: Let all your sadness out on the night you find out you didn’t make it, because after that, you’ll need to put all your energy into practicing and getting ready for the next tryouts. Don’t quit. Keep going.