Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly...a season of travel ball

Coaches are just people: don’t raise them up as Gods, or forget they make mistakes like you and me. Coaching is a calling, a passion. NO true coach is ever in it for a paycheck. They CHOOSE to coach to make a lasting impact on children and their futures. If a coach is complaining about money, (unless that IS his career, I get it Ron Rivera) that should be a red flag about his morals/ethics.

An average NC high school football coach will get paid about a $4000.00 supplement for the year. Let me repeat that - $4000.00 FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. That includes: Spring workouts, summer workouts, and the entire fall season. Let’s look at JUST the fall season… A typical week will include practice M-W (9 hrs) games on Th-F (10-12 hrs) getting the field ready (2hrs) Weekly mtg (2-4 hrs).  So approximately 23-25 hrs/week for 12-16 weeks, or about 300-400 hours ‘on the clock’ minimum for the fall season alone. That coach is already down to $10/hr and spring and summer workouts haven’t even been factored in. CLEARLY it is not about the money, and in my opinion it never should be.

We are relatively new to the travel ball arena, and just like that game ‘which of these is not like the others’, that would be us! We are NOT a typical travel ball family. This is not our weekend activity, where we toss away our money. I am a teacher, Jay works in a factory; we drive old cars and eat off the dollar menu so our kids can play ball. Our kids get 1 of what they need and use it until it wears out or breaks. That includes sneakers, gloves, bats, etc. Our kids have been well-developed athletically thanks to their daddy and growing up on sports fields. But it came to a point where they needed more, so we chose an organization that we believe in – MVP. Savy has been involved with their softball program for 2 years and we could not be happier. She has played on great teams (10U, 12U) and has truly benefited as an athlete from Carlos’ classes at MVP, particularly his catching class and the speed/agility class. Both kids benefited from the winter workouts; and that is where Justice was introduced to MVP where he would actually ‘tag-along’ with his little sister. It took us longer to allow him to play travel ball, but we eventually caved to the peer pressure from Carlos and Nick. He has loved playing on this team, so we are so glad that we caved ☺

But oh…the DRAMA…

Silence is golden. Drama is a lot like a fight or an argument. You don’t need to attend every one that you are invited to. Sometimes the quietest people are the smartest ones. And you never have to remember which lie you told who…if you only speak the truth, or just don’t speak at all.

Even after Savy’s first season of softball, I was NOT adequately prepared for the drama of the baseball diamond. Apparently my amazing MIL and “Aint” Sue could have warned me, but they didn’t 😀 LOL Now don’t get me wrong, I can get along with ANYONE (ok, just about anyone) so I really enjoyed all the parents, families, siblings, etc. And by siblings, I mean little brothers! Let me just explain our families – there are like 25 all boy families! Ok that may be exaggerating, but really we have 4 or 5 families that have ALL boys, and by ALL boys I mean 3 or 4 boys! When the little brothers run off to play it’s like Sandlot, for real.

I am a loyal person (more on that in the next blog) and I am VERY black and white. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Ok, so maybe he gets the Spectrum thing from me 😉 LOL  So honestly, it’s not the people, but the DRAMA I just can’t handle. And this season became a negative fest. I get that those things happen, especially when teams are losing; and we did that, a lot. But it got to the point that it seemed like everything wrong and bad in the world was MVP’s (Carlos & Stephanie) fault and that our team, our coach had no accountability. Zero. Now I am not here to just slam our coach, I think he is a great kid. In fact I told him after the very first tournament (through tears) that he has no business being as good as he is at his age.  I meant it; he ‘gets’ our kid, and that alone is no easy task. But he IS young, and he still has a lot to learn. There is much to be said for the wisdom that comes with experience. For example, I lost my mind at the first tournament when we made several 3rd outs at third base.  And it was still happening at the end of the season ☹ Now I don’t keep the book, so I don’t know if it is the same kid, but it IS the same coach making that call. Learn from your mistakes.  

We came to the party a bit late with this team, so we may have missed some stuff, but it seemed like part of the rift, negativity, he said/she said had to do with money. As I have said before, when I speak I state MY opinion, backed with facts. (I mean, it IS my blog LOL)

This is what I know:

I have heard several people say that our coach has not been paid from the organization (MVP)

~ I have seen $1200+ in checks that our coach has cashed from MVP, including one for the hotel in Greensboro.

I paid $200 in cash for Justice’s uniform.

~There is only $100 recorded on the spreadsheet as being paid.

Several boxes of new balls were just bought (by MVP) and given to our coach for the 14U team (within the last few weeks). They have never used these at practice.

~Our coach didn’t know we needed to bring balls this past weekend (although it was in the rules that HE sent to all the parents), so a PARENT went out and bought some.

A GoPro was bought for the 14U team (by the parents) for recruiting/promoting purposes. Having a HS athlete we were obviously very excited about this.

~I saw it for the first time this Saturday for a few minutes. When Jay asked on Monday about recording Justice in the cage this week he was told it is broken and being sent back for repairs.

Our team was NEVER registered for this 3 day, $800, wood bat SC tournament. We were originally registered for a 2 day, $250 tournament in Anderson.

~The Anderson tournament was cancelled due to lack of teams. OUR coach, OUR parents chose to play this tournament.

Here are some of the things that I have overheard:

Carlos has gone out and bought a boat with all the money.

~If you knew them at all, or spent any time at MVP; you would know that they eat, sleep, and breathe MVP. They are there all the time!

The facility is locked up, they’ve closed and Carlos has to use Heritage’s field.

~He did practice at Heritage all week, one week. The Showcase team was preparing for a tournament; I know because Justice was there.

The 11U team is terrible; they haven’t won a game. But we love Coach.

~WTF. I’m sorry. Sure he’s a great guy (well, maybe you should reread ^^), but he is coaching 2 teams that can’t win. I can’t speak for 11U, but 14U has the talent. And I have watched my husband out coach talented teams to win games for years.

THIS is what I truly do not understand…Why not ask? Why not question things? When I have a question, like I did about this SC tournament way back in June, I called and asked Stephanie. She registers the teams for the tournaments, so I went to the source. I would like to think that these parents don’t believe EVERYTHING that comes out of their own teenagers’ mouths (if so, God help their poor teachers! Lol) yet believe every word that comes out of another teen’s mouth! MVP is a business; it is this family’s livelihood. They have poured their hearts and souls into this endeavor. They are accountable to 14 teams, countless parents, families and the community. They have receipts, they have records – all you have to do is ask. Go have a conversation with Stephanie, with Carlos.  But you will NOT like what you hear, because I haven't even scratched the surface. You WILL feel betrayed, because you have been lied to, you have been stolen from. And then if you are smart you will walk away and let the chips fall where they may. I have spent months encouraging people to take the high road, because that is what we teach our children. But sometimes, wrong is wrong and sometimes wrong is so wrong it is criminal.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Out of the ashes...and long overdue.

Losing my mom destroyed me. I thought I was prepared, because I had in essence lost her years before. But it has taken me years to realize the toll that the devastation actually took on my life, on my relationships. It took me moving across the state, losing myself and finally finding my self again in the hearts of some amazing friends to realize how far gone I really was…

You see, my mom was MY PERSON. The Dolly-Mama was usually the first one I called/texted, often before I got out of bed and most often the last at night. We talked on my way to work/school and on my way home. She is who I shared my ups and downs with, and was the first one I turned to when anything was wrong. Until that something wrong…was her. And then I was lost.

And then Jay became my person, which was LONG overdue. But the toll it took on my relationships with my friends was especially devastating. I developed such a fear of losing those close to me that I became almost a hermit. I became very closed off and my circle became increasingly smaller, to the point where it was TINY right before we moved.

Then we moved, which in some ways saved my life. I am extremely blessed to absolutely LOVE my in-laws and my husband’s entire extended family. Our move meant that we would now be living much closer to almost all of them (and there are a LOT of them!) But it also meant starting over, at a new school and finding new friends. And finding new friends isn’t easy when you are closed off, when you are too scared to lose people that you can’t open yourself up. It took me a long time to realize that losing one person was costing me so many others. It took me years in fact. But I am finally healing and I am finally trusting. And the amazing friends that I have found have become so much more than friends, they have become family.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Unconditional Love

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a New International Version (NIV)

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.

Love.Never.Fails. Now people, we fail all the time. We fail AT love. We fail each other. But love, it never fails. In its purest sense, the love of Jesus will never fail us. If only WE could love like Jesus. But isn't that our goal? True unconditional love. I feel like I first learned about unconditional love from my precious Dolly-mama. I wish I could say I learned about it from my parents, but unfortunately I can't. My dad taught me from an early age that love had to be earned; but my mom, she loved me unconditionally. Her love for me never wavered, no matter the choices or mistakes I made. Likewise, my love and admiration for her never wavered a bit, even through my teens when she was 'the meanest mom in the world'. I learned how to love 'warts-and-all' from her.

I was blessed to find a man who also loved like Jesus and loves me unconditionally as well. Loving like Jesus has taught us how to love, grow, forgive, love our babies unconditionally, and forgive some more. To me the most amazing thing about unconditional love is that it doesn’t keep score. Dolly and I never kept track of who called who, or how often; we just knew that we would each be calling the other. Every day. Several.times.a.day. Because we loved each other, UNCONDITIONALLY. That love…without keeping record, without keeping track, it is so rare and pure. And so hard to find. I had it with my Dolly-mama, we have it with Jay’s parent’s (the best In-Laws in the World) and family, our children have it, and I have a few select friends who I love and love me unconditionally.

When it comes to children, our children, love ‘is not self-seeking’. In other words, when we became parents we put our children first. Not above God, or our marriage; but we became less selfish, less self-serving. Unfortunately this is not true of all parents. But Jay and I had both been raised in situations where we had seen amazing examples of unconditional love, but also non-examples and we were determined to love our children unconditionally. We never want our children to wonder if they are loved, to feel that they need to do ANYTHING to earn our love. No child, young or adult should ever feel that way. Love always protects.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Mean Doesn't Win

Rude vs. Mean Vs. Bullying…I have a poster about this hanging up in my classroom, because kids CAN be mean. They can also be rude and sometimes they are bullies, but mostly, they are just mean. 

Not too long ago someone was mean to one of my kids…it happens, like I said, kids are mean. It actually didn’t even faze MY kid, but WOW did it faze me!  For a couple of reasons…first of all, I don’t like mean! Second of all, it was someone who is very near and dear to me/us. Third, it really just hurt my feelings as we try very hard to provide for our kids as best we can, but refuse to spoil them. They get ONE pair of nice sneakers when school starts, that’s it. Shoes are not a competition. When and if they get worn out or outgrown, they get replaced. Period. For Savannah that is usually the next school year and for Justice it is at least once or sometimes twice during the year.

Anyway I kept trying to figure out why this wasn’t bothering my kid? How did he just let this roll? Well, he texted me the other day telling me that it was time, his current sneakers were officially on their last legs and could we please go shopping for new ones. So we all went shopping last night and I had a glimpse into the awesomeness that is our children. Now I’m not saying any of this to brag, or to point out that we are great parents, because trust us, we have messed up immeasurably and are full of faults. BUT, there are a few things that we have gotten right, and raising grateful, unspoiled children (who fight with each other constantly ;) are a few of those things! Just as a little background, we do the 4 gifts for Christmas (1 want, 1 need, 1 to wear, 1 to read) so as we were leaving the store Justice says “well, these can count as my 1 thing I need for Christmas.” Seriously? I love this 13-year-old boy! And his sister, who is already starting to plan her birthday party (in June) because she wants to donate gifts to a children’s hospital or cancer center. Yes, we must be doing something right, and even when their Mama gets upset…mean didn’t win.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Simple. Simplify. Simplified.

Many people feel so pressured by the expectations of others that it causes them to be frustrated, miserable and confused about what they should do. But there is a way to live a simple, joy-filled, peaceful life, and the key is learning how to be led by the Holy Spirit, not the traditions or expectations of man. ~Joyce Meyer
So, remember that last blog? All that talk about His plan? I didn’t even have a clue! Hahaha I mean, I knew He had something good up His sleeve for me, but I had no idea it would be like this! Of course, it was NOTHING like I thought it was, or what I ‘thought’ was His plan. I thought that I would be staying home this year, taking some time, etc. Oh no, He knew that was not what I needed. I needed a slight career change for sure; I needed to be with my ‘core’ and my sweet girl. He knew and He provided. I have been blessed to return to elementary school, teaching 5th grade science; leaving the Special Education world behind. I get to work with some of my best friends every day AND my sweet girl is there with me too! I could not be happier, my kids are precious and I absolutely adore them (some are a little bit easier to adore than others ;) But there is not one thing about this transition that I would change.
Build traditions of family vacations and trips and outings. These memories will never be forgotten by your children. ~Ezra Taft Benson
This brings us to the holiday season around here and the REAL reason for this blog. We’ve pretty much always done things a little ‘different’ in our house. We’ve tried to raise our kids to be thankful on a daily basis and to live a life of service to others. So we have never really made a HUGE deal about Thanksgiving, Christmas, or their birthdays. Actually, we stopped ‘doing’ Christmas years ago (long-time readers already know this ;) and started ‘Giving Away Christmas’. Santa has continued to bring them each a stocking, but otherwise all of our efforts have been towards making, creating, or purchasing gifts for others. For the first time in many years they received gifts last year, with each receiving a pair of boots. In the past they would always spend weekends making little ornaments and gifts to give away. However, this year we are changing things up a bit as they get older. We really feel that they can take a more active part in serving others, and choosing whom to serve.
To that end we have started several new family traditions at the Norton house. This Thanksgiving we had a simple family meal and everyone made a part. We had a turkey of course, but then Savy made sweet potatoes (topped ½ with marshmallows and ½ with pecans), Justice made mashed potatoes (like Mom-mom used to make), I made green bean casserole (by request of Savy), and Jay made rolls, homemade gravy, dessert, (and the turkey).
Tomorrow we have plans to go to Marbles Children’s Museum and to watch the Lemur movie at the iMax. Then we are going to an Angel Tree so the kids can pick out a child to buy presents for. Saturday we are going to the Duke Lemur Center and shopping for their Angel child. We have also talked to them about this Christmas, as we are planning on doing the 4 Gifts:
Something they Want
Something they Need
Something to Wear
Something to Read

We had a talk the other day about how this time of year can be hard for many people, and difficult for them because of how we do things differently. We talked about how they may feel when other people are talking about getting lots of ‘stuff’ or expensive things. We also talked about things to say, how they truly do not go without anything they need, and how they get many things throughout the year so getting a bunch more ‘stuff’ on one day really isn’t necessary. I know our kids are NOT perfect. But conversations like this just warm my heart. They get it. They truly understand that there is a difference between wants and needs. They understand that sometimes, actually more often than not…we have to wait for wants. Sometimes we have to wait a very long time. They get this; they really get this now at 8 and 12. I hope they are still getting it at 12 and 16, and then still at 16 and 20 because if so their transition into adulthood will be so much smoother.
As always, Blessed to be the Nortons4
One of the characteristics of North American culture is that you can always start again. You can always move forward, cross a border of a state or a city or a county, and move West, most of the time West. You leave behind guilt, past traditions, memories. ~Isabel Allende