If you do it long enough, there are special groups for every youth coach. I think it often happens when your own kids are not on the team. You don't have the balancing act of being both a parent and a coach. It's like this second family that you spend a couple of hours with at your home away from home doing only what you love - for me, baseball.
Compared to the "real world," it can seem almost too good to be true. Jake Wade, who has coached in our league since literally before the space race, once said of it, "In our league everybody wins. Everything is good and right as it should be. One can leave the real world and go out there and get refreshed." Jake should know, after almost six decades. When you're coaching a team of 12-year-olds, you aren't concerned with any issues waiting for you in the "real world." It's a kid world, and you just do your best to make it a positive experience for them. Jake has been there. He has his guys.
And when you start advancing along the road to Williamsport, or wherever you are trying to go, it only gets better. You work toward a common goal with your guys and start having success, and it can be an amazing thing. The coaches become more and more a part of the team. Everyone is dreaming big together. Start traveling to tournaments and spend a few days in a hotel with your guys, for better or worse, and you're creating memories that last a lifetime.
Coach Keeping made it all the way. I can't imagine the powerful emotions and memories he has going through his head right now. I bet he misses his guys real bad. We made it to the Southeast Regionals this summer and it was tough to say goodbye when it ended. I know our main coaches, Josh and Wish, are missing their guys.
And I miss my guys too. I'm missing me some Mighty Joe and Babe, Mikey and the Mayor. I'm missing Sam and Fonz and Colin and Martin. The list goes on and on. We connect with so many young lives through competition and striving to reach goals together over the years. The kids and their families affect our own lives in such a positive way. It is refreshing indeed. I want that feeling over and over again. That's why I keep coming back for more.