Kidding Around: Daddy the coach

Jun. 21, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Last weekend my little brother Eric played in a baseball tournament in Greensboro. His first game was at 9 a.m. on Saturday and I grudgingly rolled out of bed at 6:30 a.m. and hopped in the truck with the rest of my family to attend.

Upon arrival at the baseball or softball complex, I put up my chair (well I actually made my other brother Andrew put up my chair), applied some sunscreen and settled in for a day of America's favorite pastime.

As I observed the game and listened to the coaches, one voice always had me engaged and kept my attention. That was my daddy's voice.

I have watched daddy coach baseball and basketball teams for as long as I can remember. He is always the loudest one in the gym or on the field and sometimes I think that he is talking just to hear his own voice. That's sweet of me, isn't it?

I know that I'm obviously going to say this, but my daddy is probably one of the best coaches I've ever known. I've had my fair share of coaches who all had their own coaching style. Whether they took the friend 'it's okay, Honey, you will get them next time' approach or 'the screaming at you until you cried because you missed that ball' approach, they all tried their best to get those wins.

For my daddy, neither one of those approaches applies. Although he is not quiet, I promise that when you walk into a game you will know that Mark Kidd is there, he is also not a yeller either. I don't think I've ever seen him scream at a child because of something they did. Even when he is disappointed in a player, he always finds a way to end on a positive note, something like "Honey, you know you should have caught that ball. But don't get down on yourself and make up for it." And yes, he calls his players Honey a lot.

From T-ball to teenagers, he has successfully coached them all. Every year when baseball season comes around, the phone calls start in our home. Parents always call and ask if their child can be on daddy's team. I always hear a lot of "We want our son to play for Mark."

This weekend I watched him coach Eric's 13-and-under team. Let me tell you, that is not a task I would want. When the boys weren't giggling like elementary school children, they were talking about video games or pouting because they did not perform in the game like they should. While many people, myself included, would resort to yelling and sitting these pouty, puberty-filled teenagers on the bench, my daddy can usually get their heads back in the game.

It's amazing to watch these teens, who are usually going through a phase of hating authority figures, interact with my daddy. They are always asking and hoping for his approval.

"Mark, did you see me catch that ball?"

"Mark did you see my ball move on that pitch?"

"Hey Mark, when are we going to play next?"

"Mark, can we practice soon?"

I heard all of these questions come out of 13-year-old boys' mouths. All they wanted was for my daddy to notice and acknowledge their accomplishments.

I've also watched him coach a big, goofy group of 15-year-old basketball players to win the championship of their division. I'm not quite sure how he took those boys and got them to actually run basketball plays instead of checking out girls in the stands, but he did it. And even though they are in their 20s now, they still come around to see Coach Mark.

As I sat there this weekend and watched him interact with his players, I realized that my daddy has not only been coaching sports for over 20 years, he has also been coaching me.

If you think about it, a parent's job is to coach their child through life and eventually lead them to a victory, whether it be their dream job or the perfect family.

Daddy not only coached me through learning to play softball but he also coached me and is still coaching me through life. He coached me through all the steps to working in tobacco, although that is not something I actually wanted to learn. He coached me through math homework, which was always a struggle. He taught me how to shoot a basketball and spent hours outside playing Horse with me. He coached me through driving when I had my permit and will never let me forget the time a grasshopper came through the window and landed on my hand. I could have killed us all that day.

He even coached me through my college homecoming when he escorted me out onto the football field. I was beyond nervous about being in front of all of those people, but Daddy, being the ham that he is, just smiled and had me laughing through the whole experience.

While watching him hug his players or crawl around on the gym floor in front of his bench, which he has done on quite a few occasions, I have also learned a lot from him and I hope if I ever coach a sports team, I can be just half of the coach he is.

I couldn't tell you the amounts of wins or losses he has had, although he probably has them all written down somewhere, but I can tell you that he has touched many lives throughout his coaching career. I think that Daddy was born to be a coach.

Happy belated Father's Day, Daddy! I hope you continue to coach your teams and the best daughter in the world, me of course, to victories.