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"Stick Your Glove Out"

THE SANDLOT is a perfect movie. It's one of my favorites.

There's a scene that I think about a lot.

Benny the Jet: You can do it...Stick your glove out. I'll do the rest.

Later, Smalls with blind faith sticks his glove open in the air and waits. Benny hits it to deep left center, and it lands in the glove. From then on, Smalls has the confidence to keep trying and stick around. He has seen himself do it once (albeit with aid) and believes now that it is possible to do it again.

We all need a Benny the Jet in our lives. Someone who sees that we are eager but lacking in confidence, and instead of belittling us, lifts us up.

I think it's hyperbole that "you can do ANYTHING." But, I do think that most people are capable of a lot more than they believe. The biggest obstacle seems to be getting started. We are all in such a rush to be good or perfect at things that we never start in the first place.

I'm guilty of this too. I'm conscious of it and working on it. Skills take time to build. Also, as far as interests and hobbies go, the only person you need to impress is you. It's FOR YOU. If your expectations are too high, then maybe the problem isn't that you can't do it, but that you won't accept it unless it's easy or comfortable. A hard truth to swallow for sure.

Then again, maybe it's just insecurity that holds us back. We are so sure that we'll fail that we don't bother asking, "but what if I don't?" I'm guilty of this too. That's where having a Benny would be nice. Someone to swoop in and show you that you can do the thing if your desire is really there. You don't have to be good at it. You just have to want to.

I used to be a baseball coach for various ages in the summers. The littlest team I coached was Blastball where we introduced 3 & 4 year olds to the game. They would hit off a tee then run to first base where the base would then spray them with water like a sprinkler.

That gave the opposing team a chance to learn positions and field. But mostly it was just me holding the gloves of 9 kids while they drew in the dirt or chased butterflies.

There were definitely kids who could already hit and field. They knew baseball. They loved baseball. They were great. They were also bored. They were the least exciting to coach, because they already thought they knew everything.

Blastball was to have fun learning the game. It was the best age to coach, even if you had kids who never quite got the grasp and didn't go on to tee ball. It was fun to be a part of kids learning something new and not being stressed about getting it perfect. I liked being around that feeling of just trying something for fun.

The cool thing was that most of them did pick up skills pretty fast once they believed they could. What a wonderful feeling to see someone bloom and smile right before your eyes as the realization comes across their face of, "hey, I did that!!!"

Coaching kids even though I didn't have any on the team was such a healthy experience for me. It reminded me to be more relaxed and open minded when learning new skills. It reminded me that at the end of the day, if your heart isn't in it then don't keep doing it. Most of all, it helped me briefly be someone that empowers others.

I have very little that I'm proud of myself for in my life. But I am proud that I helped build some kid's confidence so he could go on to be fearless in the face of other things.

One of my insecure Blastball kid's is a high school swimmer now. I remember eating bananas with him in the dugout and him saying, "Coach. I like sports, but I don't know what I'm good at." I told him to try them all. He asked, "What if I'm not good at it, but I like it." And I remember saying, "if you like it, then it doesn't matter if you're good at it as long as you're having fun."

He then told me that the only fun part of Blastball for him was getting sprayed with water. And I agreed that's pretty fun.

I see his name in the paper, and I'm still proud of him. Good for you, Gavin.

I'm feeling sentimental. There's a lot of people I owe for letting me stand on their giant shoulders. I can't repay them. They'll never know.

All I can do is be someone else's Benny the Jet and pay it forward.

You can do the thing. I'll help you. Have faith.

"Stick your glove out."

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