BRAWLEY – For itâ€™s One, Two, Three Strikes youâ€™re out at the old ball game! Except, at the T-Ball level, there are no â€œthree strikes- youâ€™re outâ€.
While outs are counted and runs scored, there are no losers for the little tykes.
Some will be putting on a team uniform for the very first time, while others will be seasoned veterans with a year or two of experience (almost 1/3 of their lives). Brawley Boys & Girls Club of Imperial Valley organizes this incredible sporting event and has for nearly three decades.
While the laughter and cheers echo through the springtime air the memories made will last a lifetime. The sport I am referring to is T-Ball.
Responsible for getting the season ready is Angelica Garcia. Angelica has been involved with Â Boys & Girls Club of Imperial Valley (BGCIV) since January of 2012 and is a Unit Director (site supervisor).
In the beginning she assisted Maura Ferrel, the current Director of Operations. Maura Ferrel has run T-Ball for a majority of her 25-year career at the BGCIV. Ferrel passed the torch to Angelica during the 2013 season.
Boys & Girls Club goes beyond T-Ball, though. The BGCIV in Brawley is open year round and provides afterschool programs for 80-100 kids. The Club focuses on being good role models for kids and offers program on good character, leadership, education, the arts, healthy lifestyles, and sports/recreation.
Angelica is now in her second season as director of T-Ball. She stresses that the significant time and effort is made easier with all the volunteer coaches and sponsors.
To show their appreciation, the BGCIV puts together a â€œMeet and Greetâ€ for all coaches and staff get to know one another before the practices and games begin.
Angelica is especially thankful for the sponsors who cheerfully donate operating costs each and every year. Their generosity helps tremendously in the success and continuance of the League.
This season will be comprised of eight teams of 16 players. This yearâ€™s teams are sponsored by the following:
1. Hidalgo Society
2. Big Fellaz Barber Shop
3. Dominoâ€™s Pizza
4. La Gente Car Club
5. Benaâ€™s Rascals
6. Los Tacoâ€™s #1
7. Coni Stokely Insurance
8. Brawley Boys & Girls Club of IV
Requiring as much patience as a farmer needs if he was herding cats, coaching T-Ball is rewarded with the joy and memories created.
T-Ball is a division in which little boys can find grass, dirt and water puddles created by leaking sprinklers more interesting than a ball rolling next to them. Little girls will always find the ladybugs and might run off the field to show mom, dad or coach their new pet friend theyâ€™ve named â€œDaisyâ€.
You can always count on a loud Harley motorcycle or the Ice Cream truck music getting more attention than instructions to run to the next base.
Hearing a player ask â€œCan I go to the bathroom?â€ will occur right before they are up to bat.
You never want to ask for volunteers to play a position because there will be 17 volunteers on a team of 16 (yes, there are times when a younger brother or sister has snuck into the dugout).
At the end of the first game a coach will soon learn why the kids play baseball or any team sport at this age: Snacks and Drinks. I believe that it was a parent who started the snacks and drinks tradition as a bribing tool to get kids to play sports and out of the house. Hey, it works and the tradition continues to go strong.
Practices are usually about 45 minutes unless you are blessed and can go an hour with eager kids willing to learn. The young athletes are learning important motor and coordination skills like running, throwing, hitting, catching, and stopping a T-ball.
At this level sending a player to take a lap because they are being unruly or not following instructions is not the best solution. Send one player to take a lap and four others will follow right behind him/her.
This is a level in which a coach must use simple instructions and not use baseball slang or lingo. Donâ€™t be surprised if you instruct a player to â€œGo Homeâ€ and he/she runs off the field. They just learned to speak a few years ago and they arenâ€™t hip to the baseball sayings like â€œMove up in the boxâ€ or â€œCheck the runner, throw to firstâ€, just yet. Using ten dollar words or phrases will surely get you that â€œWhat did he just say?â€ look.
Coaches teaching kids the game of baseball and to â€œHustleâ€, â€œListenâ€, â€œand Respect Othersâ€ should be high on the priority list, well above â€œWinâ€, â€œWinâ€, Winâ€. The winning and losing comes later at the higher levels. Winning at this level is accomplished by teaching ALL the players on the team the basics of baseball and life skills. Being able to get them to love the sport is the cherry on top.
Angelica Garcia is succeeding in keeping the T-Ball League going in Brawley for the BGCIV. When asked what three words best described coordinating T-Ball and working for BGCIV she stated, â€œFun, Rewarding and Fulfillingâ€.
With 80-100 kids in the Club, some might wonder how she manages to keep her sanity. She says it is different for her. It is just a normal day, she loves it and it is only possible with the great staff of the BGCIV.
The T-Ball season began this week, March 18th,Â and will continue through May 15thÂ at Hinojosa Park on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are two games at 5:30 p.m. and two games at 7:00 p.m.
Come out and support our young athletes and enjoy an evening of fun and laughter.
Photos by Gus Garcia