The Cope’s Appliance pitcher eyeballed the batter at home plate, squinted at the strike zone and willed it to rip the ball from his hand at just the right moment.
The last batter had whacked the ball 50 yards into the basketball courts next to Canfield Middle School’s gym. Two runs had sailed in.
“This guy can’t hit. He’s bailing out,” a father yelled to bolster the young pitcher. The cold wind had hardly carried the words beyond the man’s mouth when his wife fixed him with an accusing glare.
“Oh, don’t attack him,” she said, as he squirmed under her gaze.
Slurs, digs and jeers are from Little League Past. The Cope’s team accentuates the positive and reaps the rewards.
“Negative parents take away from the game and the kids’ enjoyment of the game,” says Cope’s volunteer coach Tom Tomlinson, an electrician by day. “The worst thing you can do is discourage kids in their fun.”
With Tom, kids come first. His 10- to 12-yearold Little Leaguers choose their own positions. At the first spring practice, a dozen usually plan to pitch. Over time, they weed themselves into other positions as talents become apparent and the desire to win outweighs individual needs.
Some parents complain about the positions their sons play. Tom sticks by the kids.
“You’ve got to have faith in these kids. They know what they’re doing,” he says.
By June, parents have learned the happy tune that drives this team. Some slip occasionally, then hide their heads in shame as others yell “Nice cut” to a waist-wrenching strike or “Way to get a piece of it” when a foul ball flies over the backstop.
Cope’s pitcher finally did get the best of the batter at the Canfield game. Bat and ball connected, but the pitcher confidently threw the batter out at first base. Cope’s went on to win 11-4 and finish second in the league.
Way to coach, Tom.
Rathdrum’s Vera Olson raised five children who raised her 16 grandchildren who are raising her eight great grandchildren. All that mothering hasn’t gone unappreciated. The St. Stanislaus Altar Society in Rathdrum just named Vera, who’s 81, its Mother of the Year.
And all it took was 60 years of parenting…
Almost a winner
Coeur d’Alene’s Cultural Center has one foot across the finish line six years into its race to open. The lobby, office and main hall, named Rotary Hall for all the money Coeur d’Alene’s Rotary Club has donated, are open for business, under supervision of Youth for Christ’s summer day-camp program.
Only the four classrooms are left to finish - and money would solve that problem. Buy one of the center’s engraved bricks with your own message on it for $50.
Eventually, the bricks will be mortared into the building and your name will go down in history. Call 765-8196 for details.
The sky’s the limit
Seven North Idaho teenagers will get high in Boise next month, but their activities will be legal.
Coeur d’Alene’s Brieanna Rozell, Hayden Lake’s Amber Schnider and Anthony Zenahlik and Wallace’s Axel Oberg will join Potlatch’s Miranda Krasselt, Rathdrum’s Isaac Johnson and Mark Mourning from St.Maries at the Aviation Career Education Academy for a week.
Summer used to mean Girl Scout or Boy Scout camp. But nowadays the choices take in flight camp, soccer or swim camp or computer or writing camp. What specialized camps do your kids attend in the Panhandle?
Rip a page from their camp journals and send it to Cynthia Taggart, “Close to Home,” 608 Northwest Blvd., Suite 200, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, 83814; fax it to 765-7149; or call 765-7128.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo