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Published: Sunday, April 14, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Coaches give their time, and so much more

Spring is here, the Snack Shack is open and my butt is frozen on the bleachers. Little League is in full swing.

It seems fitting to devote a column to all the dads and moms who make that happen.

When I signed up my 7-year-old to play baseball, I had no idea what we were getting into.

Then we got the schedule.

Two practices and two games a week? It's like I signed up my second-grader for a part-time job. There's barely enough time to wash his uniform before outings.

Racing through homework; rushing through dinner; scrambling to find the necessary "protection undergarments"; getting a full baseball team to show up on a Thursday night takes an army of support.

But that's nothing compared to the time and dedication coaches put in. Every single team seems to have three or four dads, plus a couple moms, making things happen. I have no idea where these parents are finding the time.

I added it all up, and I think my son's coaches are putting in about eight hours a week to our team. That's crazy, humbling and inspiring all rolled up into one.

My husband has earned his own stripes coaching soccer for two years, so I understand the commitment these parents are making.

As for me, I'm no help whatsoever except for bringing snacks.

Whenever I play catch with my son in the back yard, I usually end up tramping through our raspberry patch because I can't catch squat. When I do make contact with the ball, there's usually squealing involved. That makes me appreciate coaches all the more.

As I spend April on the bleachers, the thing I've been thinking about the most is the effect Little League has on kids who don't have a lot of parental support at home.

I'm thinking about the players who don't have a father cheering for them in the stands. Through organized sports, there's an enormous amount of "dad hours" going into these kids. Over the years, it adds up.

So even if you aren't down in the dugout, maybe you are still being touched by baseball, too. There's probably a guy in your life who owes just a little bit of who he is to a long line of dads before him. These coaches stretch out through the decades, along with the life lessons they've taught: Tie your shoes before you come out to bat. Don't throw your mitt when you're supposed to be playing third base. Show some hustle, keep swinging and be ready.

If you keep trying, you're going to watch that ball bounce right off your bat.

Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at

Story tags » Parenting

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