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Coach Dave: False Assumptions

This week’s excerpt from my forthcoming book, Coach Dave, is centered around the false assumptions parents, players, and coaches can make. The results of false assumptions can often be counterproductive. Today’s scene takes place after the Scarlet Knights’ first practice of the year. After many of the dads make some false assumptions about Coach Dave’s coaching methods, he sets them off by some of the unusual requests he makes at the parent meeting that follows.

Brad Baker, a new guy in town, walks to the car with his son Rob while the false assumptions that the dads have made spill over into after-practice conversations all around them. Brad decides to talk to someone on the inside, someone who knows as well as anyone else what this strange young coach is doing…his son. Rob blows up several false assumptions and gives his dad some insight into what Rob believes will be an unforgettable season.

Coach Dave: false assumptions

Coach Dave: False Assumptions

On the way back to my car, I heard tidbits of conversation that I hoped was escaping Rob’s ears. All of the objections among the parents that were muted with Dean Ford’s support of the coach were being voiced in the parking lot.

Rob had something else on his mind. “Dad, I don’t think Hudson has a ride home.” He pointed toward the kid with the big cap waiting with his equipment bag near the edge of the parking lot. “Can he ride with us?”

“Isn’t he the coach’s son? I asked.

“No, Coach Dave doesn’t have any kids. He’s not even married. Why would you think Hudson was his son?”

“Oh, no reason,” I replied, chuckling at the assumption of the dads, a supposition to which I had so easily fallen prey. “Let’s see if Hudson needs a ride.”

I drove over to where the little guy was waiting. After making a call to his mother, who was still 15 minutes from the field and appreciative for the offer, Hudson climbed in the back. We headed for the house behind the white community church right off Southburg’s main strip in the middle of town. The convocation in the parking lot behind us showed no signs of ending quickly.

Rob and Hudson sat in the back of the car and began to chat like old friends. I discovered that Hudson’s dad was the new pastor at the community church and that they had moved to town just a month before. I learned that he was homeschooled and that his beloved older brother had been killed in an automobile accident two years prior. That explains the oversized cap, I thought as I wiped away the tear now tricking down my left cheek.

This was going to be an unforgettable season, I thought. One way or the other.

***

After Hudson waved goodbye and walked through the front door of his family’s house, I turned to Rob and asked, “Well, how was it, buddy?”

“Great!” Rob practically leaped into his response. “I love how a bunch of us got to hit at the same time, even though we were hitting little plastic balls. It gets pretty boring when one guy gets to bat, and everybody else just shags balls and mostly just stand around waiting on our turn. Coach Dave taught us  a few things and then let us hit in our own little groups. He made sure we all knew what to look for in each others’ swings, and he just walked around making sure we were doing it right. We kinda got to be coaches ourselves!

“He told us not to worry about what position we’re going to play because he’s going to use us in at least two positions this year. He said that if we kept playing baseball in high school, it would help our chances to make the team if we could play more than one position. He said it’s important for us to play whatever position will best help the team. He’s real big on saying why he does things the way he does, isn’t he, Dad?”

I could hold in my pent-up laughter no longer. “Yes, son. Coach Dave is really big on doing things for a reason.”

“Why did you laugh when I said that?” he asked curiously as we pulled into the garage.

“Well, let’s just say that some of the things that most of the other dads had all figured out during practice couldn’t have been further from the truth. Tell me about the conversation about the team nickname.”

“Aw, that was awesome! Some of the guys thought it was stupid for Coach to give us names to choose from, but Bryce kinda stepped in and took control. I like him, Dad. You can tell he’s a really good player, but he doesn’t act like he’s good, but not in a bad way. Does that even make sense?”

“More than you know, son. Go ahead.”

“Well, anyway, after Coach Dave talked about what the names meant, I liked ‘em all. Most of the guys did, too, but some of ‘em had wanted to name our team after their favorite college or major league team. We took a vote to see which one of the three names everybody wanted, and they all got a few votes. We all gave our opinions—which was great—and we decided against Warriors first because somebody said that sounded politically incorrect. Whatever that means.

Eagles is a pretty common name for sports teams, so we decided to be the Knights instead. L.C.—that stands for Little Carlos, you know—had the idea of making it the Scarlet Knights, and we all liked that. Bryce suggested that L.C. should be the one to tell Coach Dave. Do you think we made a good choice?”

“I think you guys did an exceptional job of working through that decision, son, “ I replied. “The Southburg Scarlet Knights has a heroic ring to it.”

“We’re gonna have an awesome team, Dad, just you wait and see,” Rob said as he turned down the hall toward his room, his voice trailing off. “We’ve got the best coach and the best players and…”

I shook my head as I reached for the phone that was vibrating in my pocket. Bruce Garrison calling. This should be good.

Combating False Assumptions

Have you ever made false assumptions about your son’s team, coach, umpires, league officials, other players or parents? I have. It’s easy to do. Sometimes, a conversation with my son would have prevented these false assumptions. Sometimes, a conversation with me would have prevented false assumptions on his part.

As a coach I often felt tension from players and parents that was sometimes based on–you guessed it–false assumptions. When we reached an understanding, we were able to operate on the same page.

Communication…that’s the key.

About Al Ainsworth

Al Ainsworth is a values storyteller. He works with individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations to pass along their values through the stories they tell…and re-tell. Al is the author of Lines in the Gravel (and 52 Other Re-Told Childhood Tales), Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life), and Coach Dave: Season One. Subscribe to his email list for more values storying.

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