Archive for Wednesday, July 13, 2005

T-ballers end season with development, friendly competition

July 13, 2005

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The kids took the field for the last game of the season, oblivious to the score and to their standing in the T-ball league. All that was on their minds was having fun on the diamond.

Lawrence Parks and Recreation carries a spirit of fun, while learning the fundamentals of baseball. And nothing exemplifies that spirit more than those kids on the field playing T-ball.

"At this level, for the most part, kids are having fun and figuring out if baseball is what they want to do," Amy Garvin, a parent, said.

Competition is not wearing on the kids' minds, so the pressure to perform is not there.

"Some of them are aware of competition, but since everyone gets to hit they are just having fun," Monica Rethman, a parent, said.

The rules of T-ball give each kid a chance to bat during an inning. Outs are called, but there are an infinite amount allowed per inning. There is no strike count tallied and no score is kept during the game.

Umpire Jessy Knudson says it is tough to call the kids out, but usually the calls are obvious enough.

"I try to explain why they are out," Knudson said. "Sometimes the kids don't understand why they needed to tag the person instead of touch the base, and I tell them why I made the call."

Jayhawks coach Jay Garvin said having fun is what it is all about and not keeping score helps to make having a good time a priority.

Cooper Rasmussen sits on second base as soon as he takes to the field, giggling during hist T-ball game Thurday at Broken Arrow Park.

Cooper Rasmussen sits on second base as soon as he takes to the field, giggling during hist T-ball game Thurday at Broken Arrow Park.

Garvin added that T-ball puts an emphasis on teamwork and sportsmanship.

"T-ball provides structure for the kids," he said. "The biggest thing the kids learn is paying attention. After that they can learn other skills, which are icing on the cake."

This season, Jay Garvin has seen the most improvement in his team's hitting. T-ball gives the kids an opportunity to learn the overall basics of the game.

Parents play a huge role in the learning process and the games. As a team takes the field, two coaches join them on the field to direct and instruct the players on where to throw the ball or what base to tag.

"The coaches are good about managing the game and keeping the kids moving along so the game can fit in the one-hour time limit," Knudson said.

Parents provide the biggest cheering section during the games. No matter which team makes a play or hits the ball, the parents yell encouraging words.

"Kids need a reminder," Jay Garvin said. "Parents talk to them and keep their head up during the game."

T-ball player Mason Phelps loves hitting and the fun of the game. Mason's teammate, Noah Kudzu, said his favorite part of playing is hitting the ball.

Parks and Recreation generally organizes the teams by school, which provides parents and kids the opportunity to become familiar with each other. Phelps and Kudzu both go to the same school. Now that they have played on the same team they have become friends. Parents also have the chance to meet each other as well.

"There is a great social opportunity for the classmates and the families to get to know each other," Mason's mom, Christina Phelps, said.

"Everyone can take an interest in learning a sport," Phelps said.

At this age, the kids have no idea if they are going to continue to play baseball when they are older, but parents said the physical activity T-ball provides is a big benefit.

"With physical education classes dwindling, kids can stand to gain from the activities offered in Parks and Recreation," Rethman said.

Christina Phelps said anything outside away from television and video games is huge.

"T-ball challenges kids to face physical interaction and that is fantastic," Phelps said.

The last play has been made and the season is over for the T-ballers, but they are not thinking about that.

They are in the dugout having fun with their teammates. And that fun will linger.

Christina Phelps said her son Mason will talk about the game all day and look forward to the next opportunity he will have to pick up a bat.

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