OK, this headline is a bit misleading.

It’s actually softball.

We’re softball moms.

Well, a softball mom and dad.

Erin and I experienced our first, full-blown youth sports tournament last month at Burlington High School.

I must say, it was awesome.

Despite rain that forced us to play the first game in wet conditions Saturday, cancel the rest of Saturday’s games and finish the tournament from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on a Sunday, Coraline Rose, my little 8-year-old player, Roman, the 2-year-old trooper who spared us of too many meltdowns, and mom and dad, along with Grandpa Ray, made the most of the extended weekend and really had a great time meeting new parents and people from the other teams.

To be completely honest, that’s my “social media” response.

You know, the one where people only give you the highlights on social media, and you assume they have a perfect life.

In reality, there were nap conflicts, extras naps for even mom and dad, pure, unadulterated exhaustion, lack of sleep, crying and waiting on strangers.

Ha, I’m also trying to be funny. It might not be working.

Whatever, it’s my story.

Seriously, though, I’ve heard many, many stories over the years about youth sports tournaments, with my older sisters and brother driving their kids hours for tournaments that take up entire weekends.

I’m here to say, that really is a real thing.

I’ve heard of parents heading down to St. Louis for the weekend, then Indiana the next weekend for another tournament.

And it’s all on the parents’ own dime.

I guess you just have to decide how good you want to try to make your kid be at sports, and how much they want to do it and if they want to put in the work necessary to become great, or even good for that matter.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

I now know and can fully appreciate the amount of commitment it takes from parents to give their kids the experience they probably never had the chance to experience.

Club sports are all the rage now, and I hate to admit it, but participation in them as a kid can affect playing time and other things at the next levels of middle school and high school.

That’s the harsh reality.

From the “get your kid to the field by 7:15 or 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday AND Sunday,” to packing a cooler of snacks and drinks, hauling chairs the seemingly two miles from the parking lot to the fields, donating food and drinks to help run concessions, waiting around while other teams finish up and cleaning up the garbage, food, tables and grills, there’s a lot that goes into it.

And the Burlington Blast organization does it right.

Parents took turns and were organized to sell food and drinks, and it really was a team effort.

If there was a long line of starving youngsters famished from a 15-12 barnburner, it seemed like a parent or even a player ran behind the counter to help.

I had my designated time, but I also was able to help with a rush a few other times, and the girls formed their own little concession crew after their games were over.

The amazing thing was that the concession stand was located under a roofed canopy right behind the field, so we could watch the game just about the entire time and not miss whether or not Cora was getting beaned by a pitch from an 11-year-old that will someday be on ESPN.

Long story short is my sweetheart just turned 8, it’s her first year playing real softball, and there have been some growing pains.

On Tuesday night, while playing for Kokodynski Orthodontics in the Burlington Girls Softball League, she got to pitch and even struck out a batter swinging, played first base, and got her first hit in a really long time.

Her confidence has been waning because she got hit by like three pitches in the last week, and she is afraid to bat right now.

Gotta chalk it up to a rookie, you know.

I must really thank Coach Seitz, Coach Kerkman, Coach Hegemann and Coach Hewitt for doing such a wonderful job guiding her through all of the feels and teaching her how to play and the love the game the right way.

Coach Hewitt even hung with Cora a little bit Sunday when she was crying because she was so scared about going back in there.

The game of softball is hard, just like baseball, and you’re going to get knocked down.

In fact, guys that get out seven of 10 times make the Hall of Fame.

 

Failure is part of the gig.

As a parent, there’s something inside, though, that is so difficult to handle when your kid is sad or struggling.

We just want them to be happy, and when we feel there is nothing we can do to make them smile or “get it,” it’s the worst feeling in the world.

I learned more about my daughter’s courage, my fears, my wife’s empathy and Roman’s blind bliss in a 24-hour period than I have in maybe our entire three-year relationship (we’ve all been together since 2019).

This isn’t an advertisement to get your kid to join the Blast, but you could do a lot worse.

It’s a really great organization if you want strong competition, and you learn all of the nuances of the game and really build chemistry, teamwork and success through months of practice.

No more hiding in easy parent land. We’re in the rat race.

And I love it.