When the other kids in the neighborhood came by to invite me to play ball, they were really asking to use my bat. I could tell by the way they asked. The request was for me to come be right field, not play right field. There is quite a difference between being right field and playing right field, and I was very good at just being there. Being good at something was the important part.
Another hint that they loved me only for my bat was where I was selected when teams were being chosen. "OK, we'll take Baker." All the real players had been taken. I was always a little more comfortable when some kind adult suggested counting off so that teams were chosen at random.There was also the question of the batting order. Even though I owned the bat, I was what they called second cleanup hitter. Maybe an assertive bat owner would have batted first. Batting ninth is not a compliment, even when it is called second cleanup. I would have felt a little better about my lack of athletic prowess if the opposing team would have at least stayed in the field while I batted instead of coming in and lining up to bat before I had taken my three swings for the last out.
If it isn't sports in our athletically oriented society, it should be something. Self-esteem requires success in something.
In fact, some who can't find a niche where they can be good at something may modify the goal a bit and become very good at being bad. Being the best of the worst may be as prestigious as being best of the best. It is in the best interest of everyone to try to find a place where each can at least feel like they can become good at something.
Besides the issue of self-esteem, out-of-classroom activities are the salt that adds savor to the experience of school. Some of the best memories of school are of the out-of-class experiences. The midnight play practice, the frozen parade route, the lost debate file and the jitters of the math competition are remembered after the classes are forgotten.
These are the experiences that apply the lessons of the classroom. They not only build self-confidence but can be the real preparation for the competition of life. This is one reason that Snow College encourages a varsity experience for every student and is considering making a varsity experience a requirement.
This out-of-class experience should be resume- and transcript-worthy. The goal is to make it possible for every student to have an out-of-class experience worth being publicized on a resume.
What this means is that the student who wrote an essay that the teacher thought was of publication quality and who eventually published in a journal of nursing with the teachers's help has completed a varsity experience that is as valuable as playing right field on the baseball team. She is surely a few notches ahead of second cleanup hitter.
Of course intramural sports may meet the varsity experience needs of the second cleanup hitter who is cut from the intercollegiate team. This person may also be able to contribute by officiating or coaching in the local children's league.
Environmentally conscious students who are pushing a recycling project are not only making a contribution to the college and the community but are completing a varsity experience that is resume-worthy and esteem-building.
Other students are tutoring at the elementary school, reading to senior citizens, entering juried art shows, debating students from other colleges, leading clubs, repairing automobiles and writing computer programs. This is in addition to the traditional opportunities in the music, drama, journalism and forensic departments that sponsor co-curricular activities. These varsity experiences are also in addition to the opportunities that there are to excel in athletics.
Although there will always be those who, because of natural ability and hard work, can play right field, the hope is that no student has to be right field or bat last in life.