All I Ever Really Needed to Know, I Learned From T-Ball - The HomeTown All Stars

As a kid, there was nothing more satisfying than hearing that crack of a bat connecting with the ball. Adrenaline kicked in and propelled me onward as I rounded first base, the exhilarating rush of the wind humming in my ears as I ran. For a split second, I took flight before sliding along the dirt and feeling my foot connect with the base. Am I safe? Am I out? Time stood still, but my heart continued to jackhammer in my chest as I waited for the call. This is why I love the game of baseball; and before baseball, it was t-ball – and it was love at first swing.

T-ball didn’t just teach me how to swing, how to slide, and how to catch; I learned so much more than that. Pastor and motivational speaker, Robert Fulghum, believes he learned everything he needed to know in kindergarten. I believe I learned everything I needed to know playing t-ball.

Perseverance

Teamwork makes the dream work

Keep your eye on the ball

Play well with others

Don’t be afraid to swing

Gratitude

Preparedness

Sunny skies make for a sunny disposition

Home is important

Self-reliance

Mental toughness

If I believe it, I can achieve it

Humility

Go after what you want

Take a moment to take a deep breath

Perseverance

T-ball is a long game that requires perseverance, patience, and focus in order to succeed. There were times during games that I wanted to give up. I was tired, my muscles were sore, and all I wanted to do was have a seat in the cool grass. There were other times when I was having a bad game, I couldn’t make the throw or make contact with the ball.

The perseverance required during t-ball taught me the importance of taking a step back, evaluating what I was doing wrong, and instead of giving up, working to improve on the skills I was lacking. This skill has followed me into adulthood, serving me well – especially when throwing in the towel is not an option.

Keep your eye on the ball

T-ball required me to keep my eye on the ball and to be ready for whatever came my way; a lesson I learned the hard way. I remember turning to talk to a friend, to pick a flower, or watch a butterfly float on by – and, just like that, the ball whizzed by – and the game was over. One of those errors cost my team the game. It was an error I never forgot, and one that I never made again. Distractions cause you to lose focus. Keeping your eye on the ball transcends the t-ball field and often makes the difference between success and failure in both your personal and professional life.

Sunny skies make for a sunny disposition

It’s tough to get enough vitamin D in our diets, which is why a little fresh air and outdoor play does a body good. Plus, in this tech-focused world, kids spend much of their free time indoors and isolated from their peers. Sure, kids play against friends and strangers through their gaming consoles, but they aren’t physically interacting with their teammates and opponents.

T-ball offers a “twofer” – kids are able to play outdoors, which boost creativity, concentration, and memory while also learning the importance of being a contributing member of a team. T-ball helps children work with others toward a common goal –  an essential skill required throughout life.

Mental toughness

Even in my early t-ball days, I was fortunate to have coaches who understood the value of mental toughness. Just like the physical training involved in sports, mental toughness takes training and practice. My t-ball coaches taught me how to stay positive, remain calm, and visualize success – even during the most stressful of situations.

If I believe it, I can achieve it

T-ball also taught me that I could do anything that I set my mind to. I remember visualizing myself hitting the ball off the tee, making a great catch, or scoring the game-winning run. I also vividly remember the feelings that come with success on the field. I’ve used what I’ve learned about visualization in several areas of my professional and personal life. I know that t-ball taught me that if I believe it, I can achieve it.

Go after what you want

Life is a lot like the game of t-ball. You can’t wait for the ball to come to you, you have to go get it – you have to take a swing. Hesitate for one second, and a golden opportunity can literally slip right through your fingers.T-ball taught me that sometimes you have to take a chance to get what you want.

Take a moment to take a deep breath

Being able to take a breath in the space between stressful moments is perhaps the most useful life lesson I’ve learned from the game of t-ball. As a kid, learning to approach the plate, take a deep breath, and prepare to perform has taught me the importance of staying calm under pressure. Later in life, the ability to pause and take a deep breath has saved me from making uninformed decisions or decisions based on emotions on countless occasions.

T-ball offers numerous physical, mental, emotional, and social benefits for our children, many which will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Over the years, I‘ve been fortunate to be able to watch hundreds of children participate in the great game of t-ball, move on to baseball, and then use the skills they’ve learned on the field to overcome challenges and excel later as teens and adults. Who would have thought such a simple game has so much to teach us about life?


KEVIN CHRISTOFORA found his calling when he began to coach little league. He has coached the Mountain Valley Little League (formerly the Woodstock Little League) since 2008. More than a pastime, Kevin loves working with children. He prides himself in teaching them that it’s about more than a game: it’s about honor, respect, and community. As president of the league, he enjoys working with the parents and community members that all have one main interest: the kids.

Written for children ages three to five, Kevin wrote The Hometown All Stars as a bedtime story to get kids interested in the national pastime again. His goal in writing these books was to get kids out of the house and onto the field – “less screen, more green.”  He believes in the valuable lessons that children learn from playing the game: teamwork, discipline, strategy, and thinking before they act. In addition, he wants to bring back the joy of being outdoors and playing — something that kids in recent years have lost.

An engineer by education, Kevin gave up the corporate life to move back to his hometown to carry on the family business and become the local butcher and a dad. He has found more happiness becoming a baseball coach than he ever had before. He hopes to pass the excitement of the game to other children with The Hometown All Stars book series.