By Brian Moylan
Novato Little League North started its Fall Ball season a few weeks ago along with several other leagues from around Marin County. This season began with a request I had not encountered in the past.
Our league president came to me with a request from two teenagers, both seniors at San Marin High School, to help coach a team as volunteer work. As commissioner of Fall Ball and manager of one of our teams, I decided to take them up on their offer.
I contacted Josh Wax and Ian Levy before we began practices. After “interviewing” both on the phone about their motives and goals, I was happy to accept their help. Both boys had playing experience, both came with good references and Ian will again play on San Marin’s baseball team in the spring. I notified all of the players’ parents of the challenge I had accepted to see if there were any reservations, and I was happy that there were none.
Despite the glowing references that I checked around town, I still held some reservations. After all, I was going to place my 12 players, ages 9 through 12, in the path of teenagers. Yikes! What was I thinking? What was I getting into? I am, after all, the responsible adult on the field. I’ve seen many teens around town acting in less than what I would consider to be exemplary behavior; certainly not what I would want around my preteen players.
From Day One, Practice One, when I hold a team meeting to discuss player and parental expectations, the two high schoolers provided hope to anyone who has given up on teenagers. Ian and Josh sometimes act like the very boys they are coaching on the field. Sometimes they act like the adults that I need when corralling the boys during practices. But, all of the time, they act in the utmost model behavior I would expect from anyone around children that age. Nothing off-color, nothing inappropriate and certainly nothing I would have to speak to them about during or after a practice. They always show up on time and stay until the very end of every practice. That, in itself, is a statement because our practices are early Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Recently we played our first game and the Cardinals did very well, playing their hearts out and acting like kids their age should act. Josh and Ian were as much a part of the team as I or any of the players themselves. They coached bases, kept the boys motivated throughout the game and most of all, upheld all of the safety rules we have for the players.
If this behavior weren’t enough to help some of us realign our thinking about today’s youth, I will throw in the endorsements from every single player on the team, particularly my own son, who loves them both and looks up to them as if they were his big brothers. Perhaps NLLN has set a new precedent about involving ourselves and our younger children with today’s teenagers. I sure hope so.
My only hope for these two outstanding young men is that they have learned as much from me as I have from them.