I still remember the day like it was yesterday.
I was eight years old and on the Ooltewah All Stars coach pitch team for the second straight year as we were going for our second straight Dixie Youth District Title.
The game was in the evening, and all day I was bouncing around the place so excited to get out on the field and just have a great time with my teammates. The game finally arrived and, long story short, we took care of business and took home the title.
I tell that story not to let everyone know that the peak of my athletic career came with I was eight years old. I tell that story because I saw that same excitement that I felt that day, and everyday I got to play as a kid, this entire summer over at the rec fields around Morristown.
It was a rough 2020 for everyone and kids were no exception. With COVID cancelling schools, cancelling sports and forcing them away from friends and pent up in their houses, kids struggled with the idea of not being able to get out on the court or the fields and play the sports they love.
The disappointment continued even in the beginning of 2021 as an uptick in cases cancelled basketball leagues throughout the town.
However finally, after over a year, the Morristown Parks and Rec Department said yes to rec league baseball and softball.
Over at the paper, we found joy in being able to go over to the fields multiple times per week and get to capture these kids doing something that they were stripped of being able to do last year. The excitement level of these kids was unmatched as they finally got to play the sport they love with their friends with not a single care in the world.
The night of the Minor League and Little League Championships, as well as the Home Run Derby, brought out locals in droves to give these kids the spotlight they deserved. Neither game disappointed either, as they both came down to the final inning, the little league game even going to extra innings.
As most know, the season culminates with the playing of the state tournaments in mid-July. This year, Morristown hosted the 10U baseball state championship where the Morristown team finished in third place, a great showing that brought out a lot of support for the kids.
Over in Maryville though, a “cardiac kids” story was taking shape for the Morristown Little League All Star team in the state tournament, with the winner heading to Georgia for the Southeast Region Tournament.
The Morristown team ran up against a powerhouse in game one against Nolensville. Following the loss, they could’ve easily laid down and gone two and done, bowing out of the tournament.
Instead, all they did was keep winning.
Derwin Helton and I had the pleasure of covering this team throughout the whole tournament, and it was exciting to see. There were rock-paper-scissors contests and dance contests during rain delays. There was go-ahead home runs by a kid who had not once hit a home run in his life. There was clutch pitching performances and kids having the time of their lives as they rallied off four straight wins to reach the State Championship.
While the final game didn’t go the way they wanted, it provided a lesson to everyone who cheered on and watched the Morristown team during the entire week, and throughout the whole summer.
See, you can learn a lot from watching kids. And one of those things is not letting life get in the way of a little bit of fun. It’s easy to get bogged down with everything going on in your life and forget to pause at times and just enjoy life.
But these kids, this week and all throughout the summer, didn’t even think about doing that. They could’ve complained about not getting to play last year, could’ve let one loss get in their way. Instead, they just went out and had fun.
And that’s something we could all benefit from doing every once in a while.