My son was born with some health challenges and needed physical activity to help him walk better. So when he was in kindergarten and asked to play softball, I immediately took him to the community center so I could pay the $10 fee and sign him up.
The lady there remembered me from my time coaching little girls’ basketball and asked me if I wanted to coach my son’s softball team. I told her I really didn’t have time. But a few days later she called and said they couldn’t get anyone else, and if I didn’t coach it, they would have to cancel the team. I knew how much he wanted and needed to play, so I decided I needed to make the time.
I set up a practice schedule, and at our first practice I notice a small boy sitting across the field watching us. He was there at the next practice, too. When I went to visit with him, he scampered away. At the third practice I could see him there again. I asked the children on the team if anyone knew him.
A boy named David raised his hand. “His name is Timmy.”
“Can you tell me about him?” I asked.
David shook his head. “He is home-schooled, and doesn’t play with other kids.”
“Would you see if he would like to play?” I asked.
David said he would. He walked toward Timmy, and when Timmy started to run away, David called after him. Timmy stopped, and after they visited a moment, both boys came walking over.
I had my team start warming up, and I sat down to visit with Timmy.
“Would you like to be on our team?” I asked.
I could see by the look in his eyes that he did. But he just shrugged. “Can’t. My dad said we can’t afford the fee.”
“You’re in luck,” I said. “Today the fee is taken care of.”
He grinned with excitement. “Really?”
“Really,” I replied. “Practice with us today, and we’ll see about getting your parents to sign the form when we’re done.” He nodded, so I continued. “Do you have a mitt?” He shook his head. I smiled. “Well, you’re in luck there, too, because we have an extra one.”
I had rounded up all the extra mitts I could find at the second-hand store. I handed him the last one. It was a bit large, but it worked.
I noticed that Timmy struggled to run and often fell down. I watched him, and watched my own son. Their physical challenges were almost identical. Although Timmy wasn’t very good, he had a big heart and quickly got up each time he fell.
The others weren’t sure about him at first, but I encouraged them, and they were soon cheering him along. When we finished practice, my son and I walked with Timmy to his home to visit with his parents.
When I mentioned I would like to have Timmy join my team, his dad shook his head. “Timmy can’t do stuff like that.”
I explained about my son’s challenges and how the doctor felt physical activity was good for him. “I think it might help Timmy, too,” I said. “And I would take good care of him.”
Timmy’s dad shook his head. “I ain’t paying for something that he’ll give up on and fail at.”
“Oh, there’s no fee,” I replied. “You just have to fill out the permission form.”
Timmy’s dad looked at me suspiciously. He glanced at Timmy, who had such a hopeful expression on his face. Then Timmy’s mother nodded her desire to let Timmy try, and finally Timmy’s dad gave in and signed the paper. I left, and immediately took the paper to the community center. Though registration was supposed to be closed, the lady accepted it after I explained the situation.
I paid the fee, and the lady smiled and nodded when I said, “And in case anybody asks, there was no fee.
I knew this was a little boy that needed softball even more than my son did.