Pearland Little League’s success brings back good memories of youth sports

By John Toth

By the time you read this column, the Little League World Series will be over, so I don’t know as I am writing how the Pearland All-Stars will fare. But I do know that the players and their families had a great time.

From what I have seen, these guys play awesome baseball. It was exciting to watch them come back from a 4-0 deficit and beat Washington 7-5 in late innings. And, it looks like they are having loads of fun.

I coached youth sports for more than a decade, and some of my best memories are from Little League and softball. Having three kids and a flexible schedule (which meant that I could work while other people slept) made me a prime candidate for coaching.

I’m not saying that all my youth sports encounters have been fun. You sometimes run into situations that are uncomfortable or negative, but the good memories prevail.

Pearland is very fortunate to have gone this far. A few teams I was involved with in Little League advanced to area tournaments, but most teams don’t make it past district, the first post-season tournament. Several of my daughter’s softball teams went to state and national tournaments, and that was a lot of fun.

Yeah, I was nervous, too, and sometimes disappointed, but my main objective no matter which sport I helped to coach was to make it fun for the players. That’s what it’s all about.

So, Pearland may be coming home with a big trophy, or just some good memories, but they have had the experience of a lifetime, as did the other teams at the tournament in Williamsport, Penn.

I remember when the Bellaire’s Little League All-Stars won the U.S. Championship 10 years ago. Those kids had a great time, and the Houston area rooted for them just like they root for the professional teams. I read a story recently that out of all those players, only one still plays baseball. Some didn’t even complete playing high school ball.

So, making it to the Little League World Series, or even winning it, does not guarantee a whole lot, except one heck of a vacation.

Youth athletics does provide some other important benefits that players can rely on for the rest of their lives. Only one team comes out on top, but those who participated are not losers. They tried their best on a particular day, and it was not good enough – just like in the business world.

You go on and try again, and again, learning from each experience. Striking out a few times is quickly overshadowed by that big hit – just like in business.

Life’s lessons are well learned when a team has to achieve a goal. You celebrate and walk away as a team, and do what’s best for the team – just like in business.

So, youth sports are more than child’s play. It’s a way of life, and it also teaches adults some much needed lessons, if they care to listen.

Here are a few pointers for the Pearland Little League parents from a former coach and parent who never had the pleasure of partying in Williamsport.

Take it for what it’s worth.

Don’t let your son pick up a baseball or a bat until spring. Keep it fun, and don’t get any ideas of multi-million dollar professional baseball contracts. If it happens, great, but it probably won’t.

Have a great time watching all the family videos and recorded ESPN games over and over. This is one of the greatest times of your life. Enjoy.