The measure of a good teammate

So how far would you (or your daughter) go to be a good and caring teammate? Not to mention a good friend? I found out something the other day that really struck me as an example of what being a teammate is all about.

We were in what turned out to be our last game at Northern Nationals. It was a 1-1 game at that point, so the head coach and I agreed we were going to stay with what was working. That meant three of our players were probably not going to get into that game unless something changed.

Along about the bottom of the fifth, our defense came in off the field. The second hitter due up was Kaitlin. When the first hitter went to bat, I was informed by someone else on the team that she had run to the bathroom, which was not far from the field. The first hitter went down quickly, and Kaitlin hadn’t returned yet. So I looked down the bench and called for a pinch hitter (Erin) to take her place. I felt bad about it, but we were under time pressure and needed to get a hitter up. The pinch hitter, by the way, was a girl who had broken her nose a couple of weeks before and was finally cleared to play for this tournament.

Kaitlin came back as Erin was walking to the plate. There was a question on whether we could put Kaitlin in after all, but the sub had already been reported so we decided to leave her there. Erin got her at bat and we re-entered Kaitlin.

A couple of days ago I was talking to Kaitlin’s father when he let me in on a little secret. Kaitlin didn’t have to go to the bathroom, he said. She chose to go there so Erin would get a chance to bat.

That impressed me — giving up her last at-bat in our final tournament so a friend could get into the game. Of course I wish she would’ve just come to one of the coaches and offered it rather than running off to the bathroom. Still, it demonstrated a lot of character to make that sacrifice.

So many kids today are self-focused. We have a very narcissitic society. But Kaitlin put the feelings and interests of someone else ahead of her own. She set an example that others can learn from, and showed what being a member of a team is really all about. My hat’s off to her!

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on August 13, 2010, in General Thoughts, Sportsmanship. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Great story and it sounds like they have had great coaching! I know of some teams where they would not ever think of this cause the coaches would come unglued. So a high five for the player who did this and a thank you for looking at it the way you did!

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  2. I applaud the player for her sportsmanship and agree with Ron for looking through it with a different lens than other coaches might have.Similar situation with my son’s 10U baseball team right now. A new player to the team never starts and might play a few innings a game. 10U is developmental, travel or not – – or at least should be. As a Mom, but coach for my daughter’s fastpitch (and other) team(s), it’s difficult to try and address since it’s a “man’s” sport [no offense]. We digress as coaches and as teachers when we only try to win at this stage in their careers – – assuming some are talented and committed enough (parents included) to play through high school and in to college.Thanks for the blog. Recently found and appreciate your candid comments.

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  3. I applaud the player for her sportsmanship and agree with Ron for looking through it with a different lens than other coaches might have.Similar situation with my son’s 10U baseball team right now. A new player to the team never starts and might play a few innings a game. 10U is developmental, travel or not – – or at least should be. As a Mom, but coach for my daughter’s fastpitch (and other) team(s), it’s difficult to try and address since it’s a “man’s” sport [no offense]. We digress as coaches and as teachers when we only try to win at this stage in their careers – – assuming some are talented and committed enough (parents included) to play through high school and in to college.Thanks for the blog. Recently found and appreciate your candid comments.

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  4. Thanks, Gwenn. Glad you enjoyed that story. I agree with you completely. At the younger ages it’s all about development and opportunity. As long as a player is working hard, he/she should be given a chance to show what he/she can do. You don’t get better sitting on the bench all the time. As a postscript to this story, both Kaitlyn and Erin are playing for me again on the team I am coaching. Only things have changed a bit for Erin. I turned her around to be a slapper a couple of years ago, and this year she had a great season at the plate – I hear she was the #3 hitter for batting average, and she was getting on base a lot and scoring lots of runs. As for Kaitlyn, she stepped in as catcher for her HS team with no experience and did a great job. She was named the team’s most improved player – still demonstrating the team player attitude I mentioned in this post. I’m looking forward to coaching both of them again this summer. It’s always a pleasure to coach players of character!

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