So Kel and I are competitive, I’m sure you’ve realized this already. A good thing, yes, but it took us a while to learn how to not snap on each other and our teammates whenever someone made a mistake.
We were ruthless at times, and could be far from perfect teammates. Some of those moments weren’t great and I cringe to think about them.
One of the lightbulb moments though was at a baseball tournament in Oliver.
I was 11 years old on the B.V. Allstar team, coached by my dad, Kevin ‘Millie’ Hendrickson, and my Grandpa as well.
Kellen was catching, and my best buddies, Zak and Undies, were playing third and shortstop and I was pitching. My first two innings were fantastic, six batter’s up, six batter’s down. Four strikeouts and a couple nice outs made by Zak and Undies.
The third inning did not go as well. The first batter up ripped one off Zak’s glove and broke up my no-hitter. I gave him the dirtiest look possible saying with my eyes, ‘how could you let that ball go by you?’ The next batter hits a ball in the hole at shortstop between third and second, under Undies’ glove and the player on second rounded third and scored. I thought he should have made the play so I scream in his direction, ‘Make a play! Come on!’
I hit the ninth batter in the knee with a slider. ‘Nice call, Kel,’ Blaming him when I was the one who threw the ball at the player. He proceeds to let the next pitch get by him and the base runners move up to second and third. I shrug at Kel and give him my nastiest glare.
On a full count, I walk the next batter to load the bases. I keep my mouth shut but stare at the umpire and shake my head, throwing my arms up too as he missed a clear strike for ball four.
I’m fuming after the walk so poor Millie comes out to calm me down. Kellen joins us at the mound and I don’t even hear Millie’s advice because I’m too busy screaming at Kel.
I walk the next batter on four pitches. My head is down, my shoulders sagged, the terrible body language is out in full force. Hitter number three lines one down the third base line and Zak misses it.
“Are you kidding me!”
We’re down four runs after the double.
I’m looking in the dugout, at my mom in the stands, searching for help, nothing. I don’t deserve any help. Batter number five gives me exactly what I deserve, a mammoth home run that I watch fly out and pretty much land on the moon.
Four more runs.
Unable to keep it together, I walk two of the next three batters and bean the other one who I thought was standing too close to the plate, completely furious with everyone but myself.
Next pitch, I get a fabulous double play from Zak as he picks a short hop with his backhand, then touches third base and throws to Kel who makes a great scoop on a ball in the dirt to tag the player sliding into home. One pitch later, Undies makes an incredible diving catch on a pop up behind second base for the third out, ending my disastrous inning.
I walk off the field and tears are streaming down my face. After seeing those friends of mine make such great plays, it clicks, and I am now angry with only myself. Apologies are in order.
I wasn’t trying to be mean to those guys, I just wanted to win so bad and lost sight of the fact they were trying to win too. No athlete wants to make mistakes that cost their team.
So the lesson? Don’t be a lousy teammate, be a great one.