We just finished up our baseball unit.
For most of the girls, it was the first time they had ever played baseball. They were excited to put on the mitts and get a chance to bat and hit the ball as far as they possibly could. At one school we even taught them the song “take me out to the ball-game” and they loved it.
Baseball proved to be more challenging for some girls to pick up on than other sports we have taught throughout the year. The ball is a lot harder, you wear the glove on the opposite hand than you normally use, and you need to be focused and attentive the entire time. One girl, Angely, had a particularly difficult time with the unit. She is a 4th grader at Virgen and just joined the program this year. She always shows up to class happy and laughing and excited to learn new sports, but is not the most athletic in the class.
The first day of baseball, we started with passing lines. Any time I threw Angely the ball, no matter how slow or soft, she closed her eyes, covered her head with the glove, and ran away. She was terrified of the ball and it even ended up hitting her a few times because she refused to open her glove. Her friends tried to help and had her watch as they caught the ball, but it was to no avail. She left the class convinced that the baseball was a monster and trying to attack her.
She returned the following week and I was determined to prove that the ball was in fact not a monster, but could be a friend!
We started with grounders and it was off to a great start, but as soon as we switched to passing and pop-flies she ran away from the ball again. She was smiling the entire time, but refused to catch the ball and kept calling it the monstruo (the monster) all class.
Finally, in our third week of baseball it happened.
We started with passing lines again. When it was Angely’s turn, I stood about a foot away from her. I lightly tossed her the ball and she caught it. Her face lit up and she asked to try again. This time, I was a little farther away and she caught it again and was even happier. All of the other girls in the class started cheering for her. When we started with the batting practice, she swung with all of her strength to hit the ball. It may have been that she was just trying to do anything to get the ball away from her, but she still hit it!
I do not expect Angeli to end up playing professional baseball.
And I am pretty sure she still thinks the baseball is a monster. But at least she decided that it is a monster she can get along with. I hope that this situation taught her that things that seem or look like monsters may not always be scary. It also served a good reminder for me. Even though you may initially be afraid of something or a new situation, with practice and patience you can overcome that fear.