As Natalie’s mom, I know that our children with ADHD, learning disabilities, or other special needs are sometimes the Least Confident Players.
My 12-year-old, Aaron, played Little League baseball this summer. His team, the Yankees, ended their season with the winningest record in the Majors, and then went on to win the league tournament too.
His team wasn’t stacked with the best players in the league. But, I’d venture to say they had the best coaches.
I’ll never be quoted in Sports Illustrated for my coach-judging wisdom (ADDitude is good enough for me!), and ESPN isn’t calling. But here’s my opinion, for what it’s worth: I don’t care how you treat your MVP. A coach is only as good as the experience he offers his LCP, his Least Confident Player.
I don’t know anything about the boy who was the LCP of the Yankees this summer. I have no reason to believe he has special needs. But as Natalie’s mom, I know that our children with ADHD, learning disabilities, or other special needs are sometimes the LCPs of their respective teams, so I felt for this boy, as if he was “one of ours”.
The LCP of the Yankees was easy to pick out. You could tell by his stance; his expression. He was wary about swinging the bat. He didn’t field or throw like a pro. And you could tell by the level of encouragement and support he received from his parents, peers, and coaches.
Now, I’d expect nothing less than encouragement and respectful treatment from the coaches--I’m not handing out a “best of” designation for displaying simple maturity. What impressed me was how, through their words and examples, they somehow taught their team to truly respect and encourage every player, right down to the LCP.
Here’s my best example. In one of the final games, the team cleared the dugout and rushed the field to congratulate the LCP--for grounding out at first! The out was beside the point to them. He hit the ball! That was all that mattered.
I doubt I was the only mom in stands who had tears in my eyes. I was proud of the LCP (now the Most Improved Player) and I was proud of his teammates, Aaron included.
The Yankees may have ranged in ability from All Star to Last Picked, but thanks to a couple of great coaches, they came out winners, as individuals and as a team.
Thanks for a great season, and for being great examples, Coach Bob DeBoer, and Coach Scott Snyder. I appreciate your influence on Aaron. And, I’d trust you to coach Natalie, my child with special needs, any day--and that’s my highest compliment.