When we started signing up Sophia for t-ball years ago, Chris' mom suggested that we join the swim team instead. She pointed out that all four of our kids could practice at the same time at the same location, and attend all of the same meets. We wouldn't be splitting our time between different ball fields. Hot ball fields. With no shade. And, she said the swim parents were always super supportive cheering on all the kids - even the slowest ones.
We didn't listen. At first. Mainly because Sophia wasn't ready to join the swim team yet. So we sat at the hot, dry ball fields for two years watching her play t-ball. I'm not going to lie when I say t-ball is painfully boring to me. On our third year, Sophia had moved up to coach pitch and Anna was playing t-ball. We spent 4 nights a week at different ball fields. A lot of times their games overlapped and some of Sophia's games were out of town, so we never seemed to be together as a family. Honestly, Sophia just wasn't any good at hitting coach pitch and the parents/coaches from other teams were scary. Really scary. I was not prepared for the aggressiveness of softball and left every game pretty fired up about that. I was one of those parents who just wanted the kids to do their best and have fun. By our fourth year, we got a little smarter. But only a little. Sophia joined the swim team, but Anna was still playing t-ball. Again, Chris and I were always heading in different directions trying to get each girl to a different spot. Not fun for anyone.
But then, year five came along and we finally got smart. We finally put both girls on the swim team and only the swim team. They both went to the same practices and meets all summer long. NICE! And, yes, Chris' mom was right. The swim parents are pretty awesome. They cheer for all the kids. The fast ones, the average ones, and especially the slow ones. Even the parents and timers from other teams sometimes cheered for our kids. Don't get me wrong, we all want our kids and our team to win, but I don't think there was ever a single child who left there feeling unsupported. And, in case you're wondering it is cooler by the pool than by the shadeless ball fields.
Last weekend at our league meet there was a freak accident. Somehow, after a gust of wind a large tree crashed down on several shade tents where swimmers and their families were sitting about 100 feet away from us. It was scary. And there were injuries. Severe ones. Like, get the chainsaws out to free people. Take head counts of your team. Clear the way for emergency vehicles. Broken necks, ankles, and damaged vertebrae. Scary. But the people all rushed to help. To do what they could. To take care of not only their own team members, but complete strangers. Comforting scared children. Praying together. Doing whatever they could. Because these teams become like families each summer.