Along with three friends, I am coaching a Little League team of seven, eight, and nine year olds. All four of us are in our early twenties. Needless to say, we are the only coaches in the league without kids of our own. Our goal? Utter domination. Throughout the season I will keep Pitchers & Poets readers updated on the goings on surrounding the team.
Our socks are yellow and our helmets are red. Our sponsor, as if some league executive parent was taunting us with the selection, is a second-rate college bar that was once the favorite haunt of Ted Bundy. After two practices, it’s safe to say that the difference between our best and worst player is the ability to catch the ball. The difference between our most mature and immature player is the ability to tie a shoe. Get ready, Seattle, for we are the Killer Bees.
The name Killer Bees was arrived at the way all great team names are: democratically. A lengthy nomination process and hasty hand-vote led to (approximately) the following results: seven votes for Killer Bees, four votes for Lightning Thieves, and one mildly contrarian vote for Killer Wasps. My choice was Lightning Thieves. Despite having not read a single Percy Jackson book, I supported the notion of a literary team name. I’ve always dug that about the Baltimore Ravens.
But Killer Bees it is. Buzzzzzzzz. The first two practices have been a blast. So far, it seems that the kids all really want to be there. There are some egos, some serious shortcomings of confidence (high five, insecure kids), and some criers – a scenario that none of the coaches is at all equipped to deal with, except by saying “you’re tough right? Right? Alright! Get up!” There is also a legion of interested but not overbearing parent-volunteers. This is especially helpful for unpleasant tasks like umpiring and planning snack schedules.
What most defines Little League at this age is the wide range of skill sets you see amongst the kids. Some of them are totally ready for kid-pitch, as this level is called. Others are still working on getting the fingers in the right slots in their glove. But the learning curve is steep. Hopefully the kids who are furthest behind will be passable ballplayers by the end of the year.
As for the beginning of the year, there have certainly been some interesting developments. Our two most advanced players, by coach consensus are Jamie and James. Jamie is a girl. She wears a bandana and has a great glove and arm, but still seems unsure at the plate. James is a boy. He is somewhat afraid of the ball when he’s on defense, but he hits like Rogers Hornsby. James, by the way, is our only returning player – this his third year coached by at least one member of our staff.
Jamie and James are just the beginning. Based purely on the first names of our players, I am very confident that we will go undefeated. In fact, I believe the Killer Bees’ 1-12 could compete with any old-time baseball lineup. Think along the lines of Sandys and Satchels, Mickeys and Lous.
More to come as the season rolls along…
*Editor’s Note: I have changed the last couple paragraphs to protect the players’ privacy. I won’t be using real names here.