End of the season

I’m sitting in the car right now at Newberg High School, watching Joe’s soccer practice. This is one of the last few practices of this 2009 fall soccer season, Joe’s first year of Classic — competitive — soccer. It’s early November, we’ve just made the daylight saving time switch, and it’s really getting dark early. We’ll be done with practice tonight by 5:30 … and it will be very dark then. Coach Kofi generally runs a long practice, but not tonight.

This team has been fun to watch. They are a mid-level team in their league. When they are playing well, they are close to unstoppable. Several times this season, though, they have played flat and gotten beat by teams that weren’t necessarily better. Kofi is an excellent coach, but I don’t see the team reach their potential every time they play. I think they could have won a few more games, but who knows.

Joe has had a wonderful time this year … some ups and downs for sure, but mostly ups.

Oops, Joe just sat down to tie his shoes in the middle of a drill. I tied his shoes; my fault. As a coach myself, I cannot stand it when kids come to practice with untied shoes. Bugger.

Joe has some wonderful athletic gifts: he’s pretty fast, has a strong leg, and has a good sense of space. He struggles, however, with toughness and aggressiveness.

He’s an interesting kid to watch on the field. Flashes of greatness mixed with periods where he doesn’t have a lot of success. Most of the time, the breakdown is a lack of aggressiveness. I find myself yelling things like “be strong!” and “go in hard!” when he’s playing. I know if he plays tougher he will have better results.

The team heads to Hood River tomorrow for the first game in the season-ending President’s Cup tournament. They lost to Hood River 4-1 early in the season, but we were shorthanded that day. We’ll have a full squad tomorrow, and I like our chances. I’ll miss the game due to conflicts with Sam’s and Ben’s games tomorrow. Again, bugger.

I don’t expect them to win this tournament, but it would be very exciting for them to do well. Looking forward to a strong finish. And I hope Joe plays well. I know that winning isn’t his primary motivator. Playing well and getting some praise (and some ice cream afterwards) means everything.

Baseball practice in the rain

My kids play baseball here in Sherwood, Oregon.  We don’t play Little League here … we play Junior Baseball.  Practices start in late March, and the season runs through mid-July.  Spring is the rainy season in western Oregon, and lots of baseball fields around here are generally unplayable when it rains.  We’re starting to get more and more artificial turf fields for football, soccer, and the occasional high school baseball field, but youth baseball is grass and dirt.

I coach youth baseball, and I practice in the rain.  This makes me a little less popular with the parents, but the reality of it is this: if you don’t practice in the rain, you pretty much don’t practice.  I don’t use the infield, though, and I have no trouble running an effective practice when it is wet.

There are many things that you can do in the rain, especially if you are willing to set up a temporary field in a patch of grass … like the outfield:

  • Baserunning
  • Pickoffs
  • Bunt coverage
  • Backing up the throw
  • Throwing drills

I carry multiple practice plans around, and I always have a rain-ready plan.