Sports Love & family

Learning Life's Lessons through Sports


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Let Them Make Memories, Give Them an Experience

Recently we went on our first out of state tournament with our oldest child. My husband is the coach and you could say I’m the Team Mom. Going out of state was Todd’s idea. He wanted to give the boys an experience. When we discussed it, he wasn’t even focusing on baseball, he was talking about the bonding that happens during those tournaments. We know you don’t have to go out of state to have that, but next year we go to Cooperstown and we thought it was a good idea to have at least one out of state tournament under our belt!

The funny thing about the weekend (well, not so funny at the time) was we didn’t play good baseball. But, I’m betting, if you ask everyone if they had a good time, they’d say yes. The reason is we made sure to plan time for the boys to hang out together. We’ve planned these trips for other sports and have realized this is the key to giving the kids an experience.

The tournament was being played on Saturday and Sunday. We gave the option for people wanting to go on Friday a chance to go to the Detroit Tigers game. Of the eleven kids on the team eight families came to the game! We had a blast and got to check another stadium off the list!

We played two games on Saturday and were done around 6:00. We arranged for everyone to meet at 7:30 at an entertainment venue. This place had go carts, laser tag, a bounce house, an arcade and more. The kids played everything and the adults hung out. When looking for a venue I wanted to be sure there was food, adult beverages and kid entertainment. All of that was met at Paradise Park! We hung out for a few hours and went back to the hotel to get some rest before Sunday’s game.

While we didn’t play the best ball, we can appreciate how well the tournament was run and the experience that was created for these boys. If you have the opportunity to take a weekend trip with your team, I highly recommend doing it. Even if it’s only a couple hours away from your home town. From the hotel shenanigans, to the planned activities, it’s a weekend your players will never forget!

And let’s remember, there’s always a life lesson: “I won’t remember the wins and losses. That’s great and all, but I think I’ll remember friendships and my teammates.”  – Melissa Nafzger

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It’s Prime Day!

Are you a sports parent always looking for great items that you need? Here’s your chance to get all the sport essentials you’ve been eyeing, it’s Prime Day! In addition to our Stuff We Love page we put together a list of all the items we think every sport parent needs for the summer!

Pull Cart – a savior for all that equipment!

Spray Bottle – for those hot, hot days! Either work, one is sold as a “sports mister”

Water Bottle – this one hangs on the fence!

Canopy – a must for summer!

Beach Umbrella – this was great for when we had little ones

Frog Togs – keep all the kids cool with these

Suckers – these became my go-to treat this summer, helps with nerves too!

Let us know the essentials you bring to all your sporting events in the comments below.


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Youth Sports, What’s The End Game?

Why do we shell out hundreds of dollars and spend countless hours on a field or in a gym? Are we thinking our children are going to play professional sports? Though many parents believe this and many children have this dream, the reality just isn’t so. Then, why do we do all that we do for no ROI (return on investment)? For our family, it’s for two reasons, the intangibles and the goal of playing in high school.

The Intangibles
What are those you ask? These are the things you can’t measure or quantify. It’s the bonds our children create, it’s the relationships the parents build. It’s the experiences of working with others, being part of a team. It’s the experiences of traveling with friends and family and/or spending time with so many people who have a common interest. It’s about relationships. Whether it’s a coach you love or one you don’t agree with; whether you’re playing with your best friends or you’re playing with kids you’ll never speak to again. It’s learning how to manage all that, so that when you’re an adult you’re ready for real life situations. Most importantly, it’s the valuable life’s lessons that are learned through a commitment to the team and competition.

The Goal
Every child that plays a sport at some point has the dream to play it professionally. Many of us realize this isn’t a reality. Lots of kids dream of playing their sport at “fill in the blank” University. While this dream is more attainable than the professional dream, the odds still are slim. As a family we talk about this often. We try not to squash our kids dreams, but we try to keep them in reality (they are only 11, 10 and 8). So, we tell them that our goal is for them to play their beloved sports in high school. Our kids are three-sport athletes and we know all too well that now-a-days even that can be an unrealistic goal. But, they’ll play as many sports as they can, for as long as they can.

This is why our family feels that sports are so important for the healthy development of our children. This is what I tell people when they ask us why we do it. What do you tell people? We’d love to hear why you have a crazy sports life like us!


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A Lesson in Compassion

We started this blog because our family loves sports, and we realized that there are life’s lessons we and our children are constantly learning via this sports life we created. Recently, our family and all the families involved in our baseball organization learned a valuable life lesson: Compassion for others.

Our baseball organization took a que from our local youth football organization and decided to do a Special Olympic-type baseball game, the HBA Challenger Baseball Game. The premise was to organize a baseball game with our 14U teams and Special Olympians from our community and have a wonderful time. It took months to plan and organize; the result: a phenomenal day for all involved. Here’s how the day went.

Each age group 8U through 13U were given players to cheer for. The team’s showed up 45 minutes before the main event to create posters and meet their players. This meet and greet was held in the “clubhouse” also known as our indoor hitting facility. The clubhouse was decked out with uniforms and gifts for each Challenger. After the meet and greet and posters were made, the kids headed to the bleachers to cheer on their player. It was amazing to see all our boys in their blue away jerseys and members of the community filling the stands. The stadium was packed!

After the National Anthem one of our 14U teams took the field, and the other team stayed as sponsors for each Challenger player. Our awesome MC for the day introduced and even interviewed each Challenger. As each player was announced our teams in the stands cheered their little hearts out! Each team really got in the spirit of cheering for their designated player. It was truly wonderful to see the joy that those cheers brought to the Challengers faces.

The game lasted a little over an hour and afterward a picture with all the baseball players was taken by the scoreboard. As each Challenger left the ballpark they were congratulated by the crowd. The pure joy they exuded was infectious for all in attendance.

Our family enjoys playing sports, we always have and always will. But, there is so much more than just being able to play. It’s like I said in my last post, “We need to teach our children that their actions (good or bad) have an affect on others. Not only for the sake of sports, but for humanity.” I’m so proud of all our boys. The compassion and enthusiasm they showed that day was a lesson for all of us!


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Coach, You Missed a Teachable Moment

Dear 8U Baseball Coach (opponent coach, not ours),

Do you feel like you’re teaching your boys the game of baseball? Do you think that running your kids around the bases when the ball was in the infield taught any of the kids on the field anything? How about tagging up on a pop-up to shortstop? Did it make you feel like the best coach out there to score an exorbitant amount of runs in three innings? Was it your best idea to tell your kid to leadoff when there is a no leadoff rule and then tell the umpire so we could end the inning? What are all these things teaching your players?

Your lack of baseball etiquette was evident that day. Your lack of ability to teach young players the proper technique was also evident. I’d love to be at a game in a few years to see if what you’ve taught your players still works. Did you think of the other children on the field? Clearly, you didn’t. Our boys handled it in stride, but it doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt.

I’m writing this to you because you angered me. And the next day my older son was in a game in virtually the same situation, except we were on the winning side. Our coach held our runners and didn’t make a fool of the other team. We were winning 11-0 when one of our players hit a two-run homerun (over the fence). Of course our players wanted to congratulate him at home plate, however our coach told them to stay in the dugout. The opposing coach told our coach he appreciated that.

So, you see, there is etiquette in all sports and we need to teach our children the proper way. We need to teach our children that their actions (good or bad) have an affect on others. Not only for the sake of sports but for humanity. Whether you are up by 15 or down by 1, as a coach you must always be able to recognize a situation and adjust accordingly; that’s coaching and that’s how life’s lessons are conveyed to players.


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The Coach Who Doesn’t Coach

It’s a difficult balance of being a parent to an athlete and being a coach to an athlete. The struggle is real as they say. Have you ever been in a situation where your child plays for a coach that doesn’t know anything about the sport they are coaching? Logic says “this person is nice and the kids are having fun.” That’s the part that has seen mean coaches. The parent|coach part says “the child is learning nothing, they aren’t getting better.”

So, if you’re faced with this, what are the options? Well, the child can play for a different team, a different organization all together. This situation is scary, we don’t know what we’ll get some where else. You know the saying “the grass isn’t always greener” comes to mind. The parent could step in and try to help the coach with their knowledge (totally depends on personality how this would be taken). The parent could ask to coach the team themselves the next season. For many, this isn’t an option because of other children and other commitments. The final option is to continue what you’re doing. Continue playing at this level and try to coach and get lessons in from other resources when you can.

The goal for any organization is to develop players, but the goal for us parents is to develop OUR player. If you don’t want to make a change, then you need to take matters into your hands. We always tell our kids that they are only one part of the team (1/5th of the basketball team or 1/9th of the baseball team). The only actions you can control are yours. While the development of the team as a whole is very important, we need to look out for the development our own child.

So, if you’re ever faced with this situation, my suggestion would be to focus on the development of your child. Whether it’s making a change with the team or just focusing your efforts on player development, you need to do what’s best for them.


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Uniform Organization

We get asked all the time how we keep all our children’s uniforms organized. We’ve tried a few methods, and so far this works the best! It’s not fool-proof but it has cut down on “mom where is my….” Hopefully this can help you and if you have a great organizational tip, we’d love to hear it!