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Thanksgiving “Throwback Thursday” Special: Gary Haning’s “That Little Girl”

No matter what she does on the softball field, she will always be that little girl.

 This is Brentt Eads of Extra Inning Softball… on behalf of all of us at Extra Inning Softball, we’d like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

As we celebrate this holiday today--and hopefully enjoy some time off from school, work or other normal routines of life--we hope you can all take a moment or two to reflect on what we been blessed with and have around us that makes life worth living.

The common denominator for all of us is the game of softball.

Gary Haning getting the celebratory ice dump after his team won one of 30 club national titles.

Five years ago, legendary club coach Gary Haning--who founded and ran the OC Batbusters organization for over three decades, winning numerous national championships and coaching softball greats like Jennie Finch and Laura Berg--wrote an article that wonderfully captures this feeling that a parent feels for his daughter.

Because, hopefully for every father or mother, this is what it’s about…  the relationship and love off the field.

*****

THAT LITTLE GIRL

By Gary Haning
(originally published Sept. 12, 2013)

From the minute you saw her and kissed her angelic little forehead, you knew she was perfect.

How could anything be more beautiful and precious? Her first smile to warm your world as a bright summer day, her tiny hands gripping your finger, a caress from heaven, nothing in your experience could begin to equal the swelling in your chest and the instinct to protect this greatest of gifts life has to offer.

She wakes you up at 3 am, she messes your hands, your clothes, your furniture. She screams like a wounded animal and you love her all the more. One day she laughs and you realize what it is to hear an angel.

Time passes and she is into everything.

If you have a spare minute you spend it worrying that you left something out, that she will find a way to hurt herself. You read and ask questions and investigate any avenue possible to ensure you provide for your treasure.

Your Corvette is now a SUV or a van, your bar nights are Chucky Cheese and Winnie the Pooh and when she walks up and says,” I love you” nothing that came before has any significance in your life.

Her life grows and she has friends and school and outwardly maybe you are not so important anymore, but please, don’t you ever believe that. She is the tiny person in the crib, she will always be that person.

You play with her and try to teach her to play softball and other games, at some point you know or you are told that she is very talented.

You have always wanted and worked for the best for her, she is your treasure, so you try to take the proper steps. You buy a $300 bat and a $200 glove, you try to find the best possible instruction and the best possible team.

You suffer greatly as she goes through a cattle-call tryout, 100 kids, 10 coaches, nobody really sees anything and is she not chosen for the team. Maybe you are a little frustrated. Why did you miss that ground ball? Why did you not swing with two strikes?

She melts into the car seat and wants to disappear. You are her Daddy or Mommy, her rock, and remember, she will always be that little girl.

She has developed into quite the player, there is talk of college coaches tracking her and you are so proud. She doesn’t want to talk softball with you now, she avoids rides home after games, she just looks into space at the dinner table. You know she loves you, but you know something was lost and that is so sad because she will always be that little girl.

The big day is here, the coach of dream school is at the game and she is so exited. You are so nervous because you know this is her fondest wish and yet you are now powerless to make a difference.

The game is not always kind and today is not her day. You want to cry as she struggles and when the coach gets up and leaves in the fifth inning you know your little girl has a broken heart. You curse the world and wonder why with all of her talent, all of the lessons, all of the practice for so many years, why did she not perform today?

You arrive home and she is locked in her room and you go to your room to change clothes and try to think of something to say.

As you walk into you room you happen to catch a glimpse of her photo taken on that very first day of her life. As you stare at the picture you suddenly realize that nothing has changed since that day.

For all of the work you have missed, the money you have spent, the hours you have driven, whether she earns a scholarship or not, she is still that little girl.

The experiences you have shared have no price. The joy she has given can never be diminished.

Players need to be pushed by their parents and by their coaches; goals and expectations are good things that must be tempered with reality.

Whatever ability your child may or may not have you will always be her last line of defense. You will always be the person that she needs to accept her, to encourage her, to love her. There should never be a day in her life that she does not want to ride home from a game with you because she is afraid of what you will say or yell at her.

Take a baby picture and put it in your wallet, because she will ALWAYS be that little girl.

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