When you grow up playing sports, it can be difficult to let that sense of competition go when your athletic “career” is over. We see this all the time with professional athletes considering coming out of retirement, but the same can be true of us simple folk who hang up our shoes after high school or college.
The urge to get out there and run around, whether on a hardwood court, grass field or track, always seems to be in the back of my mind. So when I was asked to be a part of the Carelli’s coed softball team, despite not having played more than three games of softball or baseball in 15 years, it was an easy yes.
Sometimes, it’s just nice to have something to do, and people to do it with. That’s exactly what coed softball has been this summer, because winning has not been a part of the equation.
The Carelli’s squad has had its fair share of subpar conduct at Loudy-Simpson Park, and way more than its fair share of subpar play in the field, but the overarching feeling we’ve brought to the diamond this season has been one of fun. Go to the ballpark, get run-ruled in four innings or maybe play a competitive game, but enjoy a beer (or two) and your teammates in the process.
Now, don’t get me wrong — nobody in their right mind actually enjoys losing, myself included. But when you’re there to have fun, those results don’t matter so much.
In some ways, that’s been the biggest blessing to come from playing on a bad team in a recreational league. The pressure and expectations I put on myself are completely gone. All the swinging bunts I hit are okay, and the misjudged fly balls, while still a little frustrating, don’t really matter. We’re having a ball anyway.
The coolest part of this season has been the improvement over time. At the start of the year, we were the worst team playing in Craig and it wasn’t close. Before being mercifully sorted into the B League, Carelli’s started 0-13 before finally collecting a win, with at least eight of those losses coming by way of run-rule.
But it always felt like the team was improving as summer wore on. That has borne itself out since entering the B League.
The team finished the season with two wins Tuesday, to go 4-5 in B League play entering the tournament. Right, 4-5 is worthy of some major celebration.
I’ve watched teammates strike out less, run the bases better and play much tougher defense as they’ve grown accustomed to their positions. Even better, I’ve felt myself improve in all those areas as well. At times, Carelli’s almost has resembled a real team.
It’s been a reminder of why sports are so great to play. No matter how good you are, you get to go out and run around with friends, occasionally surprising yourself by doing something you weren’t able to do before (and might not be able to do again if you tried). And it’s so much fun.
We play in the tournament coming up, where all the time we’ve put in this summer may go by the wayside in one game. That’ll be OK, because it’s been a blast. Plus, we’ll always have those beautiful tie-dye uniforms to remind us we’ve been best dressed the whole time.
Nate Waggenspack hopes you won’t hit it at him in left field and can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org