“All right. Good luck, baby. And remember, when you hit the ball, don’t forget to drop the bat before you run to first base!”
My 5-year-old son, Sam, beamed up at me. “OK, mommy! I won’t!”
I couldn’t believe I was a T-ball mom sitting in the stands, cheering on my son. For my husband, it was hard to let go and let the coach show Sam what to do.
It’s always been us — just us — showing Sam what to do. But despite a bit of uneasiness, we’re both thoroughly enjoying letting go and letting him do something new.
When he got up to bat at that game, his coach helped get him set up and stand in the right position. He swung — and missed the ball, instead swinging into the tee. The coach stepped back in and set everything back up. Sam connected this time.
He took off. And despite my advice, he ran off still clutching the bat. But after about two steps, he remembered. He stopped. He dropped the bat and continued to run.
It was a far cry from his very first game last month, when he hit the ball and ran. With the bat. To third base. After his coach helped steer him in the right direction, he continued to first base, still clutching that bat.
When my husband came to me with the idea of putting Sam in T-ball, I was hesitant. He starts kindergarten this fall, and I know our lives will only be crazy from then on out with school and volunteer activities and sports practices and games. I lamented the idea of starting this year, because I wanted one last slow summer where we didn’t have any responsibilities.
But Sam was so excited. How could I say no?
So here we are. T-ball games twice a week for two months. And I love it. I love it even if it’s the worst game of baseball I have ever seen in my life.
Seriously. Have you ever been to a T-ball game? It’s hilariously bad and also immensely adorable.
First off, no one can hit the ball into the outfield, so all the kids are squished into the infield.
When a kid does hit the ball, they all run to get it. Every single one of them, from every corner of the field. Their last game involved more dog piles than I could count. And it’s a tossup whether you’ll see a tantrum erupt on the field because a kid didn’t get the ball. Sometimes they throw to first base. A lot of times, they jump up and down celebrating the fact that they got the ball. Sometimes they throw it home.
All the kids twirl around in the infield. They all kick dirt and examine rocks and bugs. They talk to each other. Sometimes their conversations are so interesting, they don’t even see the ball as it rolls by.
When it’s their turn to bat, they have to drag the bat through the dirt on their way to home base. Only a few of them ever keep their eye on the ball. They look at their parents or the coach; how they ever make contact is beyond me.
Sometimes, after they connect, they go for a leisurely stroll to first base. Almost all of them trip over each base.
While I was hesitant at first, I’m glad we decided to sign up Sam. It’s great that he gets to learn about baseball with no pressure. They don’t keep score. It’s complete chaos, but it’s fun.
I love sitting in the stands cheering for Sam’s team. I love waving to Sam as he runs to each base. I love that he sneaks out of the dugout to ask, “Mommy! Did you see me? Did I do good?”
I love watching them all learn and get better. I love watching them make friends with each other.
But the best thing of all? Watching them fall in love with the game.
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Benson Park, 7028 Military Ave., is a 217-acre park that includes a playground, a lake, a pavilion and a scenic picnic area. One of the top features of Benson Park is its spray ground, popular among kids and families during the summer.
Dewey Park, in the heart of Midtown at 550 Turner Blvd., is known for its outdoor tennis courts. Dewey Park will be adding a brand new, state-of-the-art dog park in 2019.
Elmwood Park, 6700 Elmwood Park Road, is a historic park that has a city pool, golf course, picnic areas, sports areas and playground. One of its highlights is scenic walking trails, along with its proximity to the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus.
Flanagan Park, near 168th and Fort Streets, is Omaha’s newest park and lake. It features a 220-acre lake people can fish, and 475 acres of parkland, as well as cycling and walking trails. This lake will also feature around the Flanagan Lake trail the popular “Take A Seat” benches, which used to belong at the Gene Leahy Mall.
Fontenelle Park is a 108-acre public park at 4575 Ames Ave. Fontenelle Park has a popular lagoon, playground and long, meandering paths. Two basketball courts, four tennis courts and two football fields join a nine-hole golf course to host sports throughout the park.
Glenn Cunningham Lake, 8305 Rainwood Road, has horse riding trails and a lake where park-goers can enjoy boating and fishing. There are also walking trails around the lake’s leafy acres.
Hanscom Park, 3201 Woolworth Ave., is the oldest park in Omaha. You'll find it across the street from President Ford’s birth site. Hanscom received a brand new playground in 2017. Other features of the park include a greenhouse, dog park, tennis facility and pool.
Hitchcock Park, 5015 S. 45th St., features the Motto McLean Ice Arena, walking paths, a playground, picnic shelter, lagoon and an outdoor 50-meter pool.
At 3033 Hummel Road, this park offers both amazing views and activities for the whole family, including disc golf, trails, playgrounds and day camp.
Levi Carter Park, 3100 Abbott Drive, was named after one of Omaha's original industrialists, Levi Carter. Carter Lake provides opportunities for water skiing, fishing and boating. The park has baseball fields, football fields and basketball courts, as well as paths, picnic areas, shelters, restrooms, a pavilion and lots of open space. Levi Carter also has a playground and splash pad.
Memorial Park, 6005 Underwood Ave., is known for its beautiful rose garden, rolling green lawns and historical monuments. Another perk of the park is its location to UNO’s campus and Dodge Street. During the year there are also numerous events held at the park, such as concerts, the annual lighting of the WWII colonnade and the Veterans Shine On event.
Located on the Missouri River, the Millers Landing Park is home to Lewis & Clark interpretive exhibits, riverfront walking trails and a picnic shelter overlooking the park lake.
Miller Park, 2707 Redick Ave., has a pool, playground and 9-hole golf course. Planned improvements include a scenic walking path, a new splash pad and the Kerrie Orozco baseball field.
Pacific Preserve is Omaha’s hidden gem, according to the parks department. Located at 162nd and Pacific Streets, this park provides a haven for pollinators and other wildlife. It also offers walking trails where people can enjoy a nature haven tucked away from the suburban area.
Seymour Smith Park is an urban park near 68th and Harrison Streets. The park has an all-play playground, which is accessible to kids with disabilities. It also has recreational athletic facilities, including a baseball field, football pitches, disc golf, tennis courts and a recreational skate park. The baseball field hosts American Legion Baseball and the UNO Mavericks. It also features a soap box derby track, a trap and skeet shooting range and a skate park.
Spring Lake Park, 4020 Hoctor Blvd., has a lagoon and a 9-hole golf course. The area, after a project completed in the spring of 2017, also has a diverse wildlife habitat and a lake stocked with fish.
Named for the Ponca leader, Standing Bear Park and lake is at 6404 N. 132nd St. The day-use facility offers a playground, fishing, no-wake boating, 3.3 miles of hiking and bicycling trails, a field for radio-controlled model airplanes, a picnic area and picnic shelters.
Tranquility Park, 12222 West Maple Road, is a 340-acre park with eight baseball fields, 17 soccer fields and 24 tennis courts. Other services include shelters, restrooms, a playground and lots of open spaces. The Tranquility Park Mountain Bike Trail, the first authorized off-road bicycle motocross trail in an Omaha park, is a six-mile course available to mountain bikers.
Youngman Park, near 192nd Street and West Dodge Road, features no-wake boating and fishing on Youngman Lake, a playground, picnic area and open space for other outdoor activities.
Zorinsky Lake Park, near 156th and F Streets, has more than 255 acres with two playgrounds, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, a football field, hiking and bicycling trails and a universally-accessible fishing dock. Zorinsky is also home to one of Omaha’s most popular swimming pools.