Friday, March 28, 2008

Believe it or not, it's softball season

Although the weather might lead you to think otherwise, it is actually springtime and softball season is upon us. Once again, for the fourth year in a row, I am helping with the the South High softball program. (That's in Minneapolis for those who are alarmed at the simple directional name of the school.) I've been a B Squad coach and a go-where-needed assistant, but this year I am the coach of the JV team. It is a daunting task being at the helm of a team that needs more refinement than teaching. I'm really forced to become better at observing and correcting small things. This isn't teaching someone to throw from square one-- this is noticing the wrist snap being a little off resulting in the throws being a little off target. This isn't teaching someone how to swing a bat -- this is noticing that their back elbow is dropping and they're not getting their hands out quick enough. It requires a lot more attention to detail, which is a skill set that I'm going to have to work on.

Megan is once again the Varsity coach. It's great being able to spend time with her, however I feel bad that she bares the brunt of my overwhelmed-ness occasionally. Things have gotten better the last couple of practices, but I've been frustrated at how chaotic and disorganized things feel, which all began 9 months ago.

At the end of last year Megan had a second coach lined up that could either coach JV or B Squad. She knew that she'd have to hire a third coach to take care of the third team. She posted - for months - trying to find someone. People would inquire, then flake out. Originally I had planned on helping Megan with Varsity, in a sort of assistant coach/auntie-to-Lincoln role. Then we learned that Megan's second coach took a job that made it impossible to coach this year. Suddenly we had three teams and one coach.

Quickly we realized that we needed me to coach a team of my own and if we were going to have only two teams, they were going to be Varsity and JV. Not having a B Squad is a real detriment to the program so I volunteered to take on JV while Megan continued searching for a B Squad coach, knowing that while we wanted the third team, it might not work this year.

Tryouts started March 10. We still didn't have a B Squad coach. In fact, we only had two other people who were helping with tryouts. They couldn't coach the B Squad because they can only be there two or three days a week. Megan presented the situation to the Athletic Director who agreed that he wanted there to be a B Squad. He told her to conduct tryouts with the expectation of having three teams to place girls on. He even said he would coach it himself if no one could be found.

Of course, softball season was already upon us. People that can and want to coach already have positions, so after a few more days and a few more phone calls Megan told the AD that the B Squad was his. But the rest of tryouts and the first week of practice the AD was unavailable and Megan and I were trying to juggle 45 girls with two coaches and (usually) only one assistant. It was kind of a mess. Adding to the problem was chronic attendance issues with the players.

Megan and I have a similar attitude when it comes to the players - we want to have a competitive program, but we're not going to make it so hard-core that one absence here or there kicks you off the team. It's a constant balancing act and we don't always get it right, but I think we're fair most of the time. I'm not comfortable telling a student, "You can't play softball because your parents scheduled your family vacation during school." I'm comfortable having her make up the practice time, but not outright excluding her from the team.

Yes, we could run a tighter ship, but then instead of 45 girls playing, we'd have 18. And maybe some people think that's the way it should be. But Megan and I are both proponents of girls being involved in sports. That's why we want to have a B Squad. We want to win, we expect to win, but we want to give as many girls as possible the opportunity to participate in athletics and know what it's like to be part of a team. If we have to sacrifice a little bit of rigidity to achieve that, I'm okay with that.

Next week is Spring Break and we have optional practices every day. That following Monday we have our first scrimmage and 24 hours later our first game. It is going to be an interesting week. I don't have a lineup or positions figured out yet, save a few returning players from last year. It's going to be an interesting first couple of outings as I figure out what works and what doesn't. But I'm excited. The girls are too. And in about 10 days we're going to be outside, inhaling the smells of spring and listening to the ting of the bats echo across the parks. It's a little slice of heaven. And I can't wait.

Go Tigers!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More details emerge

Zac finally got his orders in hand. He has a "report no later than" date of September 14, so he's not supposed to leave El Sal until August. In some ways, that works out perfectly. I get to be here for my cousin's wedding in August. I'll get to go to the Great MN Get Together one more time with Autumn. I'll be able to celebrate my 31st birthday as a going away party with my friends. I can spend the summer enjoying MN. I actually like this timing better than if we had left in July.

So last night I was excited and hopeful that now we can get this moving process organized. I decided that I'd spend a little time at work today checking out the website that Zac's orders referenced as helpful to the move. Except that it isn't. You have to go from website, to website, to website, to website, trying to glean applicable information from each place. Nowhere is the information concentrated and organized. Instead I just get page after page of stupid, cheesy photos of "beaming, happy Navy families", who I'm assuming are supposed to be enjoying the moving process. Clearly they're drunk or lying. Because so far I'm more than underwhelmed at the process. For an organization that spends most of its time moving people, I would have thought their websites would have been better organized and easier to decipher.

I'm half tempted to pack up all my stuff and move myself over there. I don't want to try and jump through all their hoops. I'm not a circus poodle. I'm more than capable of getting my stuff there myself. And at least then I'd be in control of when everything happens. It seems dumb that if I wanted to move my stuff I could just open the phone book and hire someone to do it. It would take less than a day to organize the move. Instead I'm wasting oodles of time trying to plow through ridiculous Navy websites. I'm not sure that the Navy's "help" is worth my time.

I'm just crabby about this move. It's HAWAII -- not exactly like I can fly out there for a weekend to check out the lay of the land and get stuff situated. It's flippin' nine hours away. The housing situation is going to be difficult too. It's one thing if it's just me moving, or if it's just Zac. But instead we're a married couple, trying to get housing. At first we were thinking we would just get military housing, but Zac mentioned maybe trying to buy a house instead. Who knows what we should do? I sure don't. And the websites are apparently hiding the answers.

On the up side, softball started a couple of weeks ago. There have been some ups and downs already, and plenty of teenage drama. Plenty of blog fodder. I'll have to use some of that for postings going forward. I'm glad to be back coaching, though I found that I was ill-prepared for coaching the JV team. I'm trying to get my butt organized so I can be a better coach, but this season has been filled with bumps that aren't helping. (I'll lament the lack of a B Squad coach sometime later.) So c'mon Spring. We want those fields dry by April 8 when we have our first game.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Well, Zac got his orders. Looks like we're bound for Hawai'i. We probably won't be heading out that way until July, when his orders in El Sal are officially over. So either we'll have to try and squeeze in some time during softball season to see each other, or just wait the four months and see each other when he's done. Either way, I'm glad to know that I'll be seeing him sometime soon and he isn't being shipped off to someplace dangerous.
I don't have any of the details regarding the move. I'm sure I'll be sharing those as they come. I can't imagine that things will go 100% smoothly, thereby providing fodder for the blog.

Speaking of blog fodder, I am wrapping up a weekend with the flu. I'm pissed. I was suppose to go to a hockey game with Heather tonight, but instead I'm sitting here. Miserable. The girl knows me well. A hockey game is EXACTLY what I needed to get me out of my sad funk, and she busted her cute little butt to get the tickets. I was really, really looking forward to the game. Some dinner, some beer, some hockey? What's a girl not to love?

Heather and I have a long history of going to hockey games together, back to when we were freshmen in high school, and it would have been fun to sit around and shoot the shit while cheering on the Wild. I haven't had the chance to hang out with her since the wedding, which really isn't like hanging out. It's more like a "Hi! I'm so glad you're here! Gotta keep greeting people . . ."
Anyhow, I was so stoked. I was bragging to people at work about going to the game . . . .

And then I got hit by the flu truck, which then backed over me a couple more times, just for good measure.

I suck.
No, actually, I don't suck. The co-worker of mine that came into work last Thursday hacking and wheezing and coughing and complaining about being ill sucks. This is all her fault. She called in sick on Friday, no doubt laid up with what kicked my butt these last few days. She should have stayed home on Thursday. But NO! Instead she contaminated us all by coming in and I HAD TO MISS A WILD GAME WITH HEATHER BECAUSE SHE'S AN INCONSIDERATE GERM FACTORY!!!

The game just ended and the Wild lost. No doubt because my sorry butt wasn't there to support them. I owe HB big time for bailing on her.