No I In Team

 

I can hear the shouts drifting over from the neighborhood park all weekend long. In the morning, the little ones are playing baseball or soccer, while their parents cheer them on. During the afternoons and evening, young adults and parents take the field, playing volleyball or softball. Sometimes clad in jerseys, but unmistakably brought together by the love of sport. The passion for competition. The identity of team.
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When spring arrives, the games begin. The teams form. The fields erupt with joy. When spring arrives, hope springs eternal. For the players. For the teams.
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Until it doesn’t.
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Until you’re no longer on a team.
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My son has always loved this time of year. Loved sliding in the sand, whether it was heading for second base, or digging a monster return shot. Softball or volleyball; winning or losing, all that mattered was playing. Being on the field. Being a part of the team.
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This year, as the shouts drift from the park, he is home. The teams have been formed. The jerseys have arrived. The games have begun. And my son is at home. Still healthy enough to play, but definitely older than most, with children of his own who are nearly old enough to be on the teams he used to play for. Earbuds in, mowing the lawn, trying to move on. To accept he is no longer a part of it all. He has come to face to face with the realization that for him, there is no I in team.
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There is no one to blame. Nobody wronged him. He wasn’t slighted by choice, but perhaps by age, as at some point the numbers declare a forced retirement. No one weeps for a grown man when he is no longer able to play the sports of his youth.
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But he hurts inside. He misses the game. The field. The challenge. The exhilaration of competing alongside teammates for a common goal. He misses the high-fives, the head-first dives, and the musty sweat of a great win. He misses the come-from-behinds, the dig in and grinds, and the celebrations after the game. He misses the jersey, the heat, and the waiting for the weekend just so he could get out and play. He misses it all, but no one weeps for a grown man when his youth evaporates. He hurts alone.
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But his father knows, and understands.
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5 thoughts on “No I In Team

  1. Greg,
    Thanks for the post. It made me realize not only how much I miss sports, but coaching as well. Like Jennifer, I find myself organizing groups in education like I did with sports. Hard to move on sometimes.
    Jon

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can SO relate to this, Greg! realizing how much I love to be a part of a team, I find myself creating them so that I can be a part of them. A blogging tribe, a Facebook group for those who want to do a 10- or 21-day no-sugar challenge, teachers who are fired up about PD, a book study group on Voxer….

    While there’s no competition for us to face, I still enjoy working towards a goal – getting better ourselves and for others!

    Jennifer

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I enjoy the contrasts in this piece. Youth and age. Individual and team. Even the spring of our youth and the implied passage of seasons. It creates a melancholy mood that had universal appeal, looking from the outside in. Glad to have found your blog. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! I see that in men who have played and are now “grown ups”. I say – back to the game in some way or another! Play now and have fun. Over 30 league?

    Greg, you have captured the beauty and sadness of moving beyond the days of childhood. Bittersweet.

    Liked by 1 person

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