A story to share in case it helps someone in the future deal with a difficult patch or helps them realize what happened to them wasn’t the only time someone went through it. I can share it now since it’s so far in the past.
Middle school baseball. In our area, you can only play MS ball as a 7th and 8th grader.
The MS coach had it out for my son. It started as a 7th grader. In batting practice, the coach would scream at my kid “Throw your hands! Throw your hands!” Over and over again. Finally, my kid, while young at the time (7th grader) asked the coach “I’m not sure what that means? Can you show me exactly what it is that you want me to do and explain why I should be doing it?” The coach’s answer was “Shut up. Just do it because I am telling you to do it and don’t ask questions.” And, the relationship was downhill from there.
Now, the coach was in a bind because my son was a premium defender at his position. So, he had to play him. But, he would go out of his way to make him miserable. Some examples:
He would always bat my son last in the line-up. And, my son was not the worst hitter on the team. On his travel team, my son batted third or fourth. And, there was no way he should have been batting 10th or 11th in middle school. Our team was not that good. But, every game, like clockwork, my son would be batting last.
One time, as a 7th grader, when we had our big game against the cross town rival with most of the town attending, he didn’t even bat my son last. Instead, he had my son play the entire game in the field and had a DH bat in my son’s spot.
He would also NEVER let my son run the bases – EVER. Literally, when my son was in the on-deck circle wearing his batting helmet, he would ALWAYS have another player standing next to him also wearing a batting helmet, on the ready to pinch run for my son (as a courtesy runner for the catcher) the minute that he reached based. By the way, my son’s on base average in MS over the two years was right around .500 – but, he never got a chance to run the bases any time after he reached base. (And, my son is not slow.)
The coach would share weekly batting and pitching summaries on a handout with the team. Routinely, my son would be shorted hits and walks on his season totals. Just him.
One time, in 7th grade, we were playing a weak team on the road. Should have been an easy win. He sees that as an opportunity to bench my son. He plays a much inferior defender in his place. Kid struggles the whole game. In fact, the game is lost on a “walk-off passed ball” when the kid has a pitch clink off his mitt. Other team, who rarely ever wins, celebrates like it’s the World Series. Poor kid who allows the PB cries his eyes out on the entire bus ride back to town.
Moving on to 8th grade. Nothing changes from 7th grade. Same routine and treatment. One time, they are playing another middle school that has only won around 3 games in like the last 4 years. It’s an area where kids don’t want to play baseball and the coach has to beg kids to come out to the team. The team literally looks like the Bad New Bears in the field. It’s an easy win for anyone who plays them. We get to the game and find out that my son is benched. For the first three innings of the game, just about every parent in attendance comes up to me at some point and asks “Is your son injured? What’s wrong? Why isn’t he playing?” All I can do is say “He’s fine. I guess the coach wanted to give someone else a chance?” Our school ended up winning that game like 18-2 and it was called after 4 innings. (Meanwhile, next game, against a real team, he’s back in the line-up.)
The whole two years, I said nothing. My son said nothing and grinded it out. He knew what was happening and also knew that it wasn’t going to last forever. We had also heard from kids who played there before my son that the coach had some strange ways of running the team. (True story – the season before my son was on the team, they went the whole season and didn’t win a game. The two years that my son was there, they played around .500 ball. And, the season after my son left, they only one three games all year.)
Freshmen year of High School, my son makes varsity as a starter straight from tryouts. Only like 3 or 4 players in the last several years ever made varsity as a freshmen. He ends up leading the team in some offensive categories. Most of the season, he batted in the middle of the line-up.
Sophomore season, we hear that the middle school coach was replaced by someone else.