Yesterday started out funny. First of all, soft ball teams everywhere. Thought it might be a problem, but turned out not so much. As I approach the field it looks white. As I start walking on the grass I notice it’s covered in ice! I hate painting wet grass! Oh well, First World problems 😀 I see marks from whenever ago, but make freshies anyway. Gak the front sideline yard line marks and splits, paint a front sideline, step off to the front hash and gak yard line marks and splits, stick the string and start throwing down yard lines. Once the basics are done I gak from the front sideline to the front hash on both 25’s (that’s all the field I needed for what I planned that day.) I throw down dots for the horn line, practice drill, pinwheels and such. For the battery I make dots for a linear exercise, last time I had them in curvilinear stuff.
The pit staff comes out. Turns out just to make sure I was there before sending the kids, the director wanted physical conformation. Since when am I not there? Wtf Battery kids get there first, I rap with them a little. I start with this thought, “Create reality where it starts, in your head.” I talk about that concept a little before the horn line shows up. I was slightly unprepared for the horn line as I have painted only 28 dots per set and 33 have shown up. I only planned on spending 40 or so minutes doing it, so I pulled 5 vets and sat them on the sideline. Plenty of basics work for them the next hour 😀 was plenty prepared for the battery, 49 dots and 48 showed up 😀
Although I was only working between the 25’s and the front sideline and front hash, that was still 76 kids and we are bordered by a major thoroughfare and softball mania. I repeated information, usually three times, but there were still some issues on occasion. Meh, they are kids, attention issues, etc. I will be better next time. The “drill” practice went very well for the horn line; they got better each rep. Battery, not so much. I should have taken that into account and better instructed the battery for the second hour of basics, but honestly since I was probably not going to see close to 75% of them ever again, I was more focused on the horn line 😀
Next hour I have them make what I call the soul train lines. I start 5 horn line kids on dots in between. Since 5 is an odd number I explained when the second rank forms, 2 from the left side take the two closest dots, and 3 from the right side take the remaining dots. For the third rank, 3 will come from the left side, 2 from the right, and so on and so on. Easy enough, right? They are musicians, they can count, even have the dots painted on where they should stand. Better still, the longer the exercise runs, just cover down on the people moving across the field. Horn line? Not a problem. Battery? Wtf. Ranks of 4, 3, 2, even 1!!!. Dots smotts! At first I was amused as they had difficulty determining how many should come from which side, and then at that point where to stand and when to set off was just too much for some of them to handle. I give them credit that corrections took less then 2 counts to recover.
My amusement faded and turned into annoyance. How can 33 people. Relatively speaking, perfectly execute instructions given and then the 48 that follow look they were given instructions in a language other than English? I explicitly explain to the battery kids where they need to start, how each ranked is formed and proceed with another exercise thinking all is clear. I have to cut and re-set battery ranks 4 or 5 times during the next exercise. I send the horn line to get water, battery to touch the fence about 350 yards away. When they come back I tell them to get water.
I talk with the entire group about the concepts of expectations, standards of excellence, the need to work on and be physically stronger each time we see each other. I talk about dedication to do and give nothing but their best, because seriously, if not there is no point in doing something. Also that if they are talking, they are not efficiently processing the information given to them, and therefore, the likelihood of mastery has been diminished.
The end of the block goes better, and I send them to lunch early in groups. First the first time people I thank them for their attendance and look forward to seeing them at future rehearsals, sending the new horn kids to wait by the horns for horn stuff later. Next it’s the same message for the kids that attended all functions so for this season + vets, sending another group of horn kids to wait with the first group. Now I keep the vets and we have some final words and they share some thoughts with me. I send the battery vets to lunch and now gather all the horn people and gave them a final rap. Phrase to remember: brutal enforcement of standards! 😀
An age out stops by and asks me if I want to hang out and do lunch somewhere. I tell her I brought my lunch and politely decline. She seemed genuinely disappointed and I was about to change my mind, but didn’t want to reward pouty behavior 😀 I walk around and talk with some parents. They are very excited by the turn out and that the kids seemed very excited. Of course, they were with me for 2 hours 😀
I see a kid sitting alone and go and sit and talk with him for a few minutes before the lunch hour is over. During sectionals I walk around and see lots of good instruction happening. I make a list of student names by section. Guard had only one block, but they are all hanging out after lunch, watching sectional also. I hang and chat with them awhile, an even mix of vets and rookies. One of the girls is aspiring to be an instructor herself so I ask her to come see me if she ever has any questions. I notice another age out has come by after lunch and he’s checking stuff out. I go over to him talk a bit and now the second block is ending. Horn line is lagging, their whole block could have had a quicker pace. Like I always tell students, the more I talk, the less they do 😀
I walk into the room where the kids are having a final meeting and greet many of the new people by name. We dismiss the mass a little early after a brief chat as we as a staff want to address the vets. We make our points to the vets and send them on their way too 😀
Outside several of the kids from the school I work at are waiting for their ride. They are excited and want more people from their school to come. I encourage them to be persistent. Ride comes, they leave. I talk with grownups and staff, and I too leave. It was a very good day. 12 hours later, I was home 😀