John Harrington - 7th Grade Honors English - January 10, 2020

Assignment J4: "Who is the person you most admire?"

The person I most admire is my baseball coach, Mr. Ames.

Last year, Coach led our team to the intermediate league championship, which was probably the best day of my life. Since I drove in the run that tied the game, I became kind of a hero. Sometimes I download the game to relive my moment of glory, even though it happened six months ago. Nothing has even come close to matching that experience — not my induction into the Junior National Honor Society or being honored as "Youth of the Year" at my church. I can only guess what it would be like to win the World Series or the Super Bowl. But I think it must be a lot like winning the intermediate league championship since just about everything in amateur sports is based on what's happening in the pros.

One reason I admire Coach Ames is that he once played for a professional team. He understands that winning is everything. He even helped the league develop their "Total Victory Experience," which is how it convinces parents to get their kids involved in amateur sports. Their brochure promises to turn young people into "highly competitive adults able to focus on what is really important." I don't know if that actually happens but the thought of turning me into something other than me was enough to get my dad to fork over the league's $800 a year sign-up fee. Dad was also willing to buy the uniforms, equipment, and vitamin supplements that parents are required to purchase directly from the league. The players, being amateurs, don't get a salary, but the owners of the amateur sports franchises must make a bundle. Every time someone watches one of our games on satellite, sponsors pay the league, the team owner, and team coach a fee. Needless-to-say more people watch when we win than when we lose.

Coach Ames deserves a lot of credit for our winning season last year. He put us through "post-game analysis" where we spent hours watching our last game over and over until we figured out what we were doing wrong. Sometimes it was really boring. It could be embarrassing, too. Todd Powell (our worst player) had to sit through endless shots of himself missing catches and swinging at pitches about a mile from his bat. I don't even know how he stayed on the team. Some of us think his parents must have bribed the coach, but I think Coach Ames just felt sorry for the big loser. Even the three girls we had to put on the team to satisfy the equal access laws were better than Todd. I'm glad he went on to one of those "not-for-profit" leagues, coached by a father. They don't even post team rankings and individual statistics on their Web site because it might hurt their wimpy players' feelings. Who would want to play on those leagues when all the action is in the franchises, with a real coach like Mr. Ames?

Unfortunately, Coach has bigger problems this year than a clumsy player. The league has poured on the pressure to repeat last season's tournament victory, and we all know we're not the team we used to be. If we lose, he won't get the free trip to Nevada to see the Vegas High Rollers play the New York Yankees that the league gives as a prize to the winning coach. Yesterday, after practice, he said he might go recruiting if we don't "get our act together." That kind of stuff always makes the weaker players a little nervous. Not me, of course. Everybody treats Brewster (the pitcher) and me like gods. We're the best! Like I told you, amateur sports is a lot like the pros.

I've learned a lot about life from Coach Ames. I get angry when some of the players say bad things about him behind his back. Joe Miller's mother even called him a "henchman in a rotten, greedy system" right in front of everyone. Rather than yell back at her, Coach just tossed Joe off the team. Talk about class! That was the last time any parent tried to stir up trouble on our team.

Coach Ames says that you use more of your brain playing sports than any other activity. Two of our team members are also on Future Problem Solving teams. They told Coach that they use their brains plenty. I'm no FPSer, but if they could look at the way we do amateur sports in 2020 and solve just one thing they think challenges the system, I'm sure Coach and the league would consider adopting it. Coach Ames is that kind of guy.

© 2001 Future Problem Solving of Virginia