A Guest Story By Laurel Gardiner
On days like today, when I have thoughts that it’s impossible for life to be this cruel, I am forcing myself to write something positive…. a true miracle.
My sister Janine and I always played on the same softball team and my dad was always our coach. It felt great being together in our favorite sport. It was precious time with my sister AND my dad.
One year our team had NO luck. Some might say we didn’t have talent either. We lost EVERY SINGLE game. It was pretty pathetic. It got to the point where we’d show up to games expecting to lose. I’m sure other teams were happy to play us for an easy win. At the end of the season, there was always a tournament. Our team was bottom of the totum pole. The lowest spot on the bracket. We were going to have to fight hard if we wanted any chance at all. I don’t think I had any hopes of even winning one game. The tournament was a 2 day, double elimination format. Because of our record everything pointed to “double elimination” with zero wins.
Our main pitcher told my dad that she wasn’t going to the tournament because she didn’t see any point. We were going to lose every game anyway. My dad tried to convince her to play. He gave her the speech, “it’s about having fun…. not winning.”
She wouldn’t agree to come. My dad talked to her parents and they agreed with their daughter. They weren’t going to make her go. I remember my dad asking me to go her house with him. He wanted me to knock on the door, and ask her to please come play at the tournament. I did. She still said no. As a result, my dad had Janine and another player pitch for our tournament. I’m pretty sure Janine felt the pressure of it all.
When we got to the tournament we were all a bit nervous. Imagine our astonishment when we somehow won our first game! It was a pleasant shock and a dab of hope was restored in all of us. That win must have been just what we needed to believe in ourselves because we kept winning the rest of the first day. I remember seeing a lot of shocked and smiling faces. We were amazed ourselves! The next day when we showed up for the “A Side Championship Game”, the opposing coach asked my dad what we were doing at “THIS” game. My dad just chuckled and raised his shoulders. As if to say, I don’t know??!!
Somehow, someway, we were in a real battle. We were neck and neck the entire game. We (the underdogs) wanted so badly to win while the other team wanted to put us in our place. I’m sure they thought they could easily beat us given how our season went. They had skill but we had heart! We wanted the win and we had already proven that we could do more than we thought. There was no way we were giving up now.
As the last inning approached, everyone took their positions. My dad put me in the dugout and Janine in left field. I was kind of upset that I was in the dugout. It was such an exciting game. I wanted to be apart of what was unfolding. Plus, MY dad was the coach??!! Doesn’t that get you special treatment?! I remember looking at my dad with disappointment as I walked to the bench. He waved his hand at me and told me to sit down and cheer the team on. So I did just that.
The last inning was intense. We battled long and hard. WE were up by a point. Could we hold them? There were 2 outs, we just needed one more. My dad was standing outside the dugout. The pitcher threw the ball. The batter swung! The ball went flying high into left field where my sister Janine was. She RAN to the ball and her glove reached high above her head. She caught it!!!!! She held her glove up for ALL to see. She won the game for us all! My dads arms raised high above his head with hers and they cheered together!!! Our team won! My heart filled with joy and excitement seeing my dad smile and cheer like that. It was a TRUE miracle… A real life Sandlot story.
As I write this memory of course I am no longer mad at my dad for sitting me out that last inning. I realize today that I was exactly where I was meant to be… in that dugout, watching Janine’s victory and my Dads excitement. I also think of the other gift that was given to me that day, a memory I will always treasure. I hadn’t seen my dad show a lot of emotion after the death of my brother. To see him celebrate with such energy and joy was a sweet reward to me.
By Laurel Gardiner
Read another story written by Laurel here.