The good old Yellow Jackets finally pulled out of their slump. They beat the Bears, 13 to 2, thanks to Jaime, an unlikely hero. Jaime has played baseball the last three years, but it has always been a filler sport for him. And, physically he hasn't grown much in the last year, so he's smaller than most of the kids - the jump to AAA has been big for him.
So when he got a hit in the first tournament game, I was happy for him, but I didn't think much of it. That, however, was the beginning of a hitting streak that may have woken the entire team from its slumber.
In a week in which we lost five games, Jaime had seven hits in seven at bats and walked in four other plate appearances. He was the lone bright spot in the team slump, and his streak almost went unoticed; because the coaches were focused on what was going wrong, we missed what was going right!
So during our team talk before the game against the Bears, I made sure to single Jaime out for special praise for his seven-for-seven performance, which had raised his batting average 85 points. The demeanor of the team immediately changed. They patted Jaime on the back, jokingly called him a show-off, and were quick to offer congratulations and high fives. I think they realized that, as a team, they had wasted his effort.
It is funny how a spark from an unlikely source suddenly ignites a team. After the team talk I sensed an energy and enthusiasm from all 11 players I hadn't seen in a week. It was as if, inspired by Jaime, they had decided to finally show up and play. After we scored six runs in the first inning the slump was a distant memory.
Thanks, Jaime! Your hard work accomplished what the coaching staff couldn't: the motivation to perform.
Baseball sure is a funny game sometimes!
Last in a three-part series
Adapted from the book, A Perfect Season: A Coach's Journey to Learning, Competing, and Having Fun in Youth Baseball (Quiet Path 2010) by Dan Clemens. It is available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and other bookstores.
Dan Clemens is a leadership and communications consultant, and has been a youth coach for 10 years. You can email him at Dan@CoachClemens.com.
Posted December 3, 2011