Written by Kelly Pierce, Chief Marketing Officer at Advisors Excel I was so nervous for my daughter Stella's first softball game of the season. I knew she wasn’t ready. We moved up from t-ball to machine pitch, and she had a lot of improvement to be made. You name it, Stella needed to work on it — hitting, running, catching, throwing — all of these were on the must get better immediately list.
I had prepared a pep talk to give her on the way to the game. I thought maybe if we discussed all the things that needed work, she would magically turn into this all-star player before the first pitch.
This was my Top 10 list I wanted to review with her:
1. Run towards the ball when it’s hit at you 2. Step and throw 3. Keep your elbow up when you’re batting 4. Step towards the machine when you’re batting…and pivot your hips 5. Keep your eye on the ball 6. Run fast through first base 7. Don’t throw your bat 8. Pump your arms when you run 9. Swing hard 10. Don’t complain about anything
Just as I started to give Stella all these reminders, I thought about what my dad and all the other great coaches I had growing up would have said to me. In that moment, I realized I was about to make a critical parental and coaching error. I had lost sight of what was truly important and why we should encourage our kids to play sports in the first place.
I changed my Top 10 list to the “4 Ways to Be Awesome,” and they went something like this:
1. Be fierce. Don’t ever be afraid. Go after what you want. Believe in yourself. Be confident in your ability and want to make the big play.
2. Be a good friend and teammate. Be the biggest cheerleader for your team as possible. When someone makes a great play, tell her good job. Stay positive. Encourage her to keep her head up when she makes an error. Talk with your teammates- call for the ball, say how many outs there are.
3. Be ready. Stay on your toes. Stay focused. Think about what’s next. Know your options. If the ball is hit to you, know where you will throw it. If the ball isn’t hit to you, know where you will go and who you will back up.
4. Be better. Do your very best every time you step onto the field. Keep practicing. Keep learning. Do more than you did before. Work hard and when you get tired, push yourself a little more. Learn from your mistakes. Be gracious when you lose. Sometimes your best isn’t enough to win; but try again even harder next time.
These four principles I ended up sharing with Stella summed up what ultimately I hope she learns from playing softball. But let’s be clear — I’m not one of those parents who thinks every kid should get a ribbon just for showing up. I do think winning is good and being competitive is healthy (after two strike outs last week, you better believe we are practicing hitting like crazy), but there’s so much more to playing sports than wins and losses and X’s and O’s.
We have the opportunity to make a positive influence on these kids’ futures and show them a path to success and happiness.
The true victory won’t be seen for years down the road. I was taught about life on the softball field, and I apply these ideals to my life both personally and professionally today. The things they learn on the field as six/seven year olds, they’ll not only remember as parents and professionals, but it’s how they’ll live the rest of their lives.
A special thanks to all my softball coaches over the years including my mom and dad and my two sisters plus Steve Harding, Bob Craig and Jess Adams, Marilyn Farthing, Cecil Dozier and Ron Miller
Kelly’s entrepreneurial instincts, ability to communicate and lead rather than dictate and manage, and commitment to see the overall big picture have allowed Advisors Excel's 50-person creative unit to run stride for stride with the company’s continued amazing growth.
A Kansas State graduate with a B.S. in Business Administration; Marketing & International Business.