By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
I had one constant question for athletic trainer extraordinaire Carla Pasquarelli at every sporting contest I ran into her at during this past winter.
"So, like, you're really going to let me be your assistant coach this spring in softball, right? You promise? Like, for real?"
I like coaching and had not gotten to do a whole lot of it ever since I began working full-time a few years ago. Luckily -- for me -- my friend Carla coaches roughly 19 softball teams, so I figured she could allow me to muck up one of her teams. "Sure, sure," was her usual reply, often followed by a quick change of the subject.
Alas, after roughly the 16th time I asked Carla if I could help her this spring, I think she began to take me seriously.
Now, here I am, the super-eager first-base coach/backstop guard for the 14 ponytail-sporting warriors that make up Team GAVAC in the Amsterdam Girls Softball Association's 10-and-under league. So far, I've got my first-base coach spiel down pretty pat -- "If it's on the ground run really fast; in the air, listen to me" -- and my only problem on this front is I really struggle to remember how many outs our team has at a given point in an inning.
That's a really crucial thing to remember for the person in charge of making sure our girls do not take off on lightly hit flyballs. So far, I've been lucky and only sent one player sprinting to second base on a successfully caught fly; fortunately for me, little Alexis Rodriguez is fast enough that she was able to get to second base and back to first before the potential double play.
Anyway, in the next couple of months, I plan to write a semi-regular column about my experience coaching the girls, which hopefully does not abruptly end with Carla pulling the plug on this experiment after our team ends up with three runners at second base. My goal is to try to shed some light on what it is like to try to turn more than a dozen kids into softball-playing machines, hopefully delivered with some humor.
So, here's to the adventure.
This and that
In each version of this gimmick, I plan to share a batch of things I've recently learned from my team. Consider this section to be dripping with sarcasm. ... Based on cheers, our team's main goal seems to be to "hit the ball all the way to Crossgates Mall." This also seems to be pretty much every team's main goal. Frankly, I'd settle for a hit to the outfield. ... Little girls love worms, dirt and rocks more than they do softball. In this respect, they seem an awful lot like little boys. ... Navea Aponte is our team's toughest player. Playing catcher in our first scrimmage, 7-year-old Navea did not cry or complain when balls pelted her in the helmet and chest protector; in a later game, Navea did not flinch when head coach Carla Pasquarelli -- apparently out for blood -- beaned her during an at-bat. ... No matter how many times I make Shaelyn Kanches promise me she will hit a home run, she has yet to keep her word. If she was not 6 years old and an on-base machine, I'd start to take this dishonesty personally.
To reach the writer, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the softball fields. He will be the one giving out high-fives at first base.