Sunday, April 19, 2009

A note to my son's baseball coach

Baseball and poetry are one, to mangle Stevens. I sent this to the head coach, who does love the game and concentrates on skills, not in making "warriors" of the boys.


I've been thinking a lot about kids' baseball lately, as both Sangha and Radhika are playing. And I'm a teacher, so I'm fascinated by coaching. I like the coaching I'm seeing; Sangha's skills have improved immensely, and he's focusing in ways I haven't seen, except when he gets a new Lego set. So clearly, the experience has been very valuable for him. But it does bother me that some of the coaches seem to think the goal of playing baseball at 10 years of age is to get to the majors, or be a national champion, or be the very best. Not that I don't like to see people perform well (Ichiro slapping a hit to win the game; Pujols scoring from third on a grounder to the pitcher; Edmonds circus catching in the outfield, all these make me very happy), but it seems to me that there's more to this game than future exploits. There's also THIS moment to enjoy.No one has told the boys that baseball is a beautiful sport, one that teaches you to focus, to move your body in ways that make you and the spectator feel good, one that makes you think better, and that baseball is an art. That's what I would like to hear. Enjoy the moment, live inside of it, and baseball will become something you can enjoy the rest of your lives, no matter when or how your "career" playing it ends. The benefits of baseball are now.

I teach students to write and read poetry. Many of them are scared to death of it. So I have to show them how not to be scared at the same time I teach them to make something new. Very few of them are going to be poets or professors or anything related to my field. But I want them to learn how to think like a poet, how to play with the world in ways that are meaningful and enjoyable to othem and to others. So I have them play a lot (even though I give them grades at the end . . . ). I find that their responses tend to be very positive. So my suggestion would be to tell the kids to _play_ more. It's a game. It can be a very serious one, but you get to the serious stuff by being creative.

Thanks for listening!

aloha, Susan


John Madera said...


Sorry, off topic, but I'm writing to let you know that I've just "launched" The Chapbook Review ( an online journal focusing exclusively on the critical examination of this underrecognized artform.

Would you consider sending books to us for review? Submission guidelines may be found here:



Lyz Soto said...

That's beautiful, Susan. I hope the coach was hearing with listening ears. . .

susan said...

Thanks, Lyz. Actually, I rather adore the head coach, for all his baseball obsessiveness. It's a couple of the other dads, or three, the top of whose heads explode on a periodic (or regular) basis!