Copy of Erika Sanzi COL_12

Well, that’s a wrap. For the past decade, a defining part of my identity has been that of Little League mom, and this past weekend, with my youngest son’s team’s loss to Smithfield in the 12-year-old district finals, I said a bittersweet goodbye and turned the page on a long chapter of too many memories to count.

It would be impossible to calculate the hours our family spent at our local fields. Exhilarating wins, disappointing defeats and post game sprints to the ice cream truck have been the evening and weekend soundtrack of my life every spring and summer for the past 10 years. I still remember my youngest son toddling around at the fields, using all his might to climb up onto the bench with his older brothers’ teams so he could feel part of it all. Now, even he has played his last Little League game.

In those early years, the unbridled laughter in the dugout can quickly turn to tears as young players learn the hard lesson that failure is an integral part of the game and that a batter who fails seven times out of 10 is actually considered a success. This is a tough lesson to learn, especially in a culture that constantly insists on protecting children from disappointment and failure.

They need both to thrive.

We all find our sense of community in different places. I happened to find mine in youth baseball. I made wonderful friends, had a million laughs and enjoyed the blessing of watching my sons and their friends play ball. I also ate way too many cheeseburgers from the concession stand because, for us, dinner was so often at the field. Now what am I going to do?

None of it happens without the hard work of the coaches and volunteers. They put in so many hours on the field and also behind the scenes. The past year presented unique challenges, and still, we had a season. I extend my deepest gratitude for that.

I never could have known how much I would love my years as a Little League mom. There were, of course, many moments when the last minute, “mom, where’s my jersey” or “I can’t find my glove” just about sent me over the edge. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and while there is so much to look forward to, a part of me will always miss it.

Sanzi is the director of outreach at Parents Defending Education and a former educator and school committee member. She writes at Sanzi.substack.com.

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