Sports Love & family

Learning Life's Lessons through Sports


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Our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

We put together a list of items we love and that our kids just might get this holiday season (maybe 1-2 for us too)! Click on the pictures to get more information and prices. You can also check out our Stuff We Love page for more great sports gifts!

Practice Anywhere, Anytime
This net is designed to be durable, portable, and reliable. Set up and break down can be done within minutes; you can bring the practice session anywhere you go.

Launching levers and hidden contraptions make this miniature baseball game a real crowd-pleaser! Step up to the plate and swing for the fences! Realistic baseball action allows you to hit singles, doubles, triples, and homers with the spring-loaded bat. If you want to play baseball everyday even when it’s raining or night time, the Super Stadium Baseball Game is perfect for you.

This baseball inspired case is a cool way to protect your baseball lovers cell phone. The hard case offers great protection against small drops, bumps and scratches. It installs in seconds and allows for full access to all functions/ports.

By combining two American pastimes this fun gift combines a baseball and a bottle opener made from half of a REAL Leather Baseball.  The opener is magnetic so it sticks to any metal surface.

This pancake style glove is ideal for infield training. This device aids in developing soft hands and a quick glove to throw transition. If you have a baseball or softball player in your house that likes to work hard this is a great gift for them.

The Baseball Tumbler is a 30 oz stainless steel drink holder that keeps drinks cold for 24 hours and warm for over 12 hours even on the hottest and coldest days. This baseball tumbler is the perfect gift for any baseball fan to take to games or practice.

This sports hoodie is perfect for mom who has both a softball player and baseball player. This sports hoodie is perfect for mom who has both a softball player and baseball player.

Water Bottle – this one hangs on the fence and keeps your players water cold even in the hottest temperatures!

Frog Togs – keep all the kids cool through a hot summer day.

It’s the classic game of Capture the Flag that people have played for over 90 years – but adapted for today’s generation using glow-in-the-dark LED lights! Each kit includes 25 battery-powered, reusable lights that transform playing fields and players into glowing teams of blue and green. Complete with lit jail markers, territory lights, light-up wristbands and glowing crystals that serve as each team’s flag, this is truly a modern twist on a classic game.

The Star-Kick gives young players the touches they need to master ball control, develop proper passing and shooting techniques, and improve receiving. Maximize your training by minimizing ball chasing. Fits most players and securely holds size 3, 4 and 5 soccer balls.

The XTRAMAN Stand-In Basketball Defender can be used to help in your basketball training. In the past crucial drills have been performed using traditional tools like cones, but the XTRAMAN is the newest and only stand-in defender to accurately simulate the size and shape of a real player on the court.

Maximize your fitness potential with this Speed Agility Training Set. The package comes with one agility ladder, five hurdles, eight cones, one jump rope, and three latex mini bands. The perfect bundle to help your child increase their speed, agility, and muscular endurance.

The Perfect Curve CapRack18 is perfect for storing, displaying and organizing up baseball caps and visors. With two separate cords, each able to hold 9 caps/visors, you have the flexibility of putting both cords behind one door, or using a cord behind different doors in different rooms. Each cord has its own over-the-door and under-the-door hooks as well as a metal adjustment buckle to ensure a snug fit behind a door.

Let us know what’s on your athlete’s list this holiday season in the comments below.

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Why do I Coach, Why do you Coach?

I began the process of writing this blog by asking myself one simple question, why do I coach? Why do I do it? What started my inner drive to help others try and become better people, both on and off the field? What do I possess that makes me the type of person that would want to take on this role? What were the things that I experienced in my life that caused me to want to take on this very important role for others? Is it that I get to dive head first into someone else’s world and try to help them grow? Is it that I get to share in their successes and help them through their failures?

The answer always comes back to the same common theme. I coach because I believe it is important to have good people who want to make a difference in kids lives. This is all I have ever known. As long as I can remember I have known that there was something bigger than just me, I am just a part of this world yet I still have an opportunity to make a big difference. I truly believe that all of these parts come together to help form who a person is and what a person is all about. Knowing that youth athletes are at different points along a continuum, I want to be a part of helping them recognize they are capable of greatness. This was instilled in me by my parents and coaches. They taught me to be there for others and to try and have a positive influence on others. I feel now, more than ever, we need each other. I think we owe it to ourselves, and others, to open up and share what we have learned. Coaching is about motivating kids to try and be better today than they were yesterday.

I have chosen to follow what I believe is important. I have found something in me to share with others that I enjoy. It gives me a purpose and shows others a skill that if I chose not to share it, I would not have a completeness in my life. Being a coach allows me to be bigger than I am. Are you here to contribute something larger then yourself? Is this why you coach?


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Knowing Your Role: The Player

“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. “ – Vince Lombardi

I was a player before I was a coach or a parent. But, it was a long time ago; today I’m a co-worker and those values I learned long ago, serve me today. Now as a parent, I must remember what that was like, so I can share those experiences with my kids. Last time we talked about what it means to be a coach, to guide your players, to teach them the sport. Well, as the player your most important task is to be a good learner. This means showing up ready to work. This means being present and ready to learn. It means trying your best 100% of the time.

Once you join a team, there is no more I or me. As a player your child’s responsibility is to themselves, their coach and their team. If they have leadership tendencies, encourage them to step up and be that person for their teammates. Be there to pick them up, be there to encourage them. Be a doer, but also a shower (that’s almost more important). Show them that you always hustle, show them that you always give 100%, show them that when you struggle you are able to move on from it. If your child is not comfortable being a leader, encourage them be a team player, because that’s important, and it’s important to know how you can best contribute to the team.

A team player is someone that shows up to do their job. At practice their job is to listen to instruction, be respectful to the coach and teammates and try their best. At a game their job is to do all of the above but most importantly support each and everyone on the team. Cheer on your teammates. Give high fives or fist bumps, a pat on the back or a “good job” or “you’ll get it next time”. As a player they need to learn the game and try their best, as a team player they need to be the biggest supporter of each of their teammates.

Let your children know they don’t need to be best friends with their teammates, in fact they don’t even need to be friends. When you walk on that playing surface you’re teammates, no matter what else is happening around you. And if you’re all friends and want to spend time together afterwards, that’s just icing on the cake. This is the time when they’ll create memories that last forever. Enjoy it, live in this moment, because it really does go so fast.

One thing you will take away from being a teammate, is learning how to work with all different kinds of people and it will serve you your entire life. Remind your child that their individual commitment to the team is what makes the team work, and later, the company and society work. And that means we’re learning life’s lessons through sports!


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Knowing Your Role

Introducing the first in this four-part series about ‘Knowing Your Role’. To us this means knowing what you bring to your team and realizing that each role on the team is important. Join us as we discuss what roles we have, and then as we dive into the various roles on a team (Coach, Player and Parent).

Part I: Knowing Your Role
As adults we have careers, and within that career we have specific assignments or expectations of us. One thing that prepared us for this was playing sports growing up. It’s important to know your role on a team. We know that not everyone can be the coach, or the captain or the number one pitcher. We each have a specific role and each role is important (please remember to tell this to your children constantly).

As parents, we need to educate our children on this. Our kids learn this lesson in school daily, some may realize it and others probably don’t. This is another reason why sports play such a pivotal role in the development of a child. This is how I think we can control the sense of “entitlement-age” we’re living in.

We explain to our children that your team is like working for a company. You have the boss, which is your coach. You have other supervisors, which are the assistant coaches. You have the worker-bees, which are the players. Within that set you all have specialties, or in a company they might be departments. Everyone has a job description, everyone has a position they play. We tell our kids they are only 1/9th (baseball/softball) or 1/5th (basketball) of their team; because you can only control YOUR ACTIONS. However, if someone needs help performing their duties, typically others pick up the slack, because we are ONE team.

The greater good of the company is defined by how well each person performs their role. The success of the team is defined the same way. But, success can only be achieved when the right people are put in the right roles to obtain the best outcome. You can’t put someone at first base whom can’t catch the ball, it’s setting them up to fail. If each of us understand our role and accept it and know that our role is important to the greater good, success should follow.

The difficult part is not knowing your role, it’s understanding it’s importance to the team. When kids are little they hate playing outfield because at a young age they don’t receive much action. It’s our job to make sure they realize that there’s more to that role than catching a fly ball. On every pitch, every player should be moving and they should know where they’ll ultimately end up should that pitch be hit. At the youth level outfielders backing up infielders is critical on each play. I’ve seen many bases and runs given up because there wasn’t someone backing up a throw.

Explaining early on to our children that not everyone can be a pitcher or a point guard, will help them understand the importance of each role on a TEAM. Not everyone is going to be able to, nor want to be the CEO of a company, or the Vice President of a department. As long as we’re teaching our kids to be team players and that their own success can contribute to the greater good of the team or organization.


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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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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!