By Daris Howard
Special to The PREVIEW
My son was born with some health challenges and needed physical activity to help him walk better. So when he was in kindergarten and asked to play softball, I immediately took him to the community center so I could pay the $10 fee and sign him up.
The lady there remembered me from my time coaching little girls’ basketball and asked me if I wanted to coach my son’s softball team. I told her I really didn’t have time. But a few days later, she called and said they couldn’t get anyone else, and if I didn’t coach it, they would have to cancel the team. I knew how much he wanted and needed to play, so I decided I needed to make the time.
I set up a practice schedule and, at our first practice, I notice a small boy sitting across the field watching us. He was there at the next practice, too. When I went to visit with him, he scampered away. At the third practice, I could see him there again. I asked the children on the team if anyone knew him.
A boy named David raised his hand. “His name is Timmy.”
“Can you tell me about him?” I asked.
David shook his head. “He is home-schooled and doesn’t play with other kids.”
“Would you see if he would like to play?” I asked.
David said he would. He walked toward Timmy and when Timmy started to run away, David called after him. Timmy stopped and after they visited a moment, both boys came walking over.
I had my team start warming up, and I sat down to visit with Timmy.
“Would you like to be on our team?” I asked.
I could see by the look in his eyes that he did. But he just shrugged. “Can’t. My dad said we can’t afford the fee.”
“You’re in luck,” I said. “Today the fee is taken care of.”
He grinned with excitement. “Really?”
“Really,” I replied. “Practice with us today, and we’ll see about getting your parents to sign the form when we’re done.” He nodded, so I continued. “Do you have a mitt?” He shook his head. I smiled. “Well, you’re in luck there, too, because we have an extra one.”
I had rounded up all the extra mitts I could find at the second-hand store. I handed him the last one. It was a bit large, but it worked.
I noticed that Timmy struggled to run and often fell down. I watched him, and watched my own son. Their physical challenges were almost identical. Although Timmy wasn’t very good, he had a big heart and quickly got up each time he fell.
The others weren’t sure about him at first, but I encouraged them and they were soon cheering him along. When we finished practice, my son and I walked with Timmy to his home to visit with his parents.
When I mentioned I would like to have Timmy join my team, his dad shook his head. “Timmy can’t do stuff like that.”
I explained about my son’s challenges and how the doctor felt physical activity was good for him.
“I think it might help Timmy, too,” I said. “And I would take good care of him.”
Timmy’s dad shook his head. “I ain’t paying for something that he’ll give up on and fail at.”
“Oh, there’s no fee,” I replied. “You just have to fill out the permission form.”
Timmy’s dad looked at me suspiciously. He glanced at Timmy, who had such a hopeful expression on his face. Then Timmy’s mother nodded her desire to let Timmy try, and finally Timmy’s dad gave in and signed the paper. I left, and immediately took the paper to the community center. Though registration was supposed to be closed, the lady accepted it after I explained the situation.
I paid the fee, and the lady smiled and nodded when I said, “And in case anybody asks, there was no fee.”
I knew this was a little boy that needed softball even more than my son did.