By Jeff Kurrus
Days like today, when it’s 60 degrees, low wind, and still squirrel season, remind me of my pre-Nebraskaland days when I was a baseball coach. When I, the serious leader of young men I was, would find a reason to end practice prematurely so that I could take my .22 Ruger out in the woods instead of hitting more ground balls to my infield.
“Turner, what are you doing?” I would say, knowing that Turner could take it and that he wouldn’t mind spending the last hour or two of his day doing something fun instead of being pummeled with short hops by me. “Look, if you’re not going to give me more effort, then we’re done here.” Another grounder booted.
“That’s it, that’s it. Get off my field,” I’d say, watching my players walk to pick up gear. “If you’re not all off the field in two minutes, then we’ll run until dark.” At this point is when the praying began. Praying that Watson didn’t spill a bucket of balls or that Guy didn’t forget all his glove, hat, socks, car keys, or whatever else he was liable to forget on a day-to-day basis.
Because if these unfortunate moments did occur, my chance to stalk squirrels on those late afternoons would be halted, replaced instead by wind sprints. Who wants to do wind sprints? More importantly, who wants to watch others do wind sprints instead of sitting in a patch of quiet woods, watching grays scamper from evergreens to hardwoods, and from oaks back to pines?
And while these days seem like they are a million years away, I can’t help but wonder just a little if we might have been a better team if the coach didn’t forgo practice and conditioning for random small game hunts. Hmm?
Okay, I’m done wondering…or caring. I wouldn’t trade those afternoons for anything, and I’m sure those boys wouldn’t either.