Jared Lankford: T-ball: A life-altering event, I hope

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Jared Lankford

In high school, I had a great English and literature teacher named Mike Evans.

As fate would have it, Mr. Evans is now the principal at Wheaton High School, and I occasionally get the opportunity to speak with him at Bulldog and Lady Bulldog sporting events.

During a time when my mind was a ball of mush that needed to be shaped and molded, Mr. Evans was a voice that rang out with distinction and clarity.

He was one of two teachers that I had for four years during high school. I sought out his classes because he made learning fun and easy.

He even persuaded me to play a role in a one-act play. I was the professor in Ed Opus Rex -- I only got its comedy when I went to college.

Mr. Evans told us that there are three life-changing events that we should experience: graduation, getting married and the birth of a child.

I have since experienced all three events and come to understand more and more of what he truly meant.

At each stage along the line of those experiences, I have been reminded that life it less about yourself, and more about being there for those around you.

In January, my wife and I were blessed with our fourth child. My life has become a tough balance-beam of quality family time and work.

However, I believe I am about to experience a fourth life changing event.

Last Saturday, I enrolled my oldest son, Zeke, in the T-ball program.

To be honest, I don't care if my son becomes an All-Star, hits .400 or throws a perfect game. Even though my job revolves around sports, I don't want his life, at age 5, to be judged on athletic achievement, or a lack thereof.

I enrolled my son for the other benefits, and some selfish reasons that I believe can be gained from these types of activities.

First, I want my son to develop his social skills, sharing and see the foundation of teamwork established.

The kids on his team, and other squads, are going to be his classmates, friends and acquaintances for life.

I still keep in touch with classmates that I played with in little league and share memories of "big games" we played.

For Zeke, I want him to get to know the kids that he will see in the classroom and become their friend. Most of all, I want him to have fun.

For my wife and I, we get a chance to meet the parents of those players that we will spent the next 12 or so years working with in booster clubs, parent-teachers organizations and other extracurricular events as our children progress through their education.

I would encourage everyone to sign their child up for a summer sport.

These leagues, for most, are the start of the "remember when" stories our children will talk about when they are our age.

The Cassville Little League has one more open registration for area youth on Saturday at the Family Life Center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

You never know how life will play out. I certainly did not see myself behind a sports writing desk, covering the children of individuals that I graduated with or running into a teacher that I looked up to in high school, now at the helm in Wheaton.

For my son, his journey is just starting. I want him to have positive memories that will last a lifetime.

Jared Lankford is the sports editor of the Cassville Democrat. He may be reached at sports@cassville-democrat.com, or at 417-847-2610.

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