My Brother Aaron

January 10, 2011
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The spring my brother Aaron turned seven, he started playing in a tee-ball league. In teeball, coaches need every volunteer they can find. So I started serving as first base coach or catcher when Aaron’s team was hitting. Sometimes I brought the tee out if necessary, or when my team was in the field, I stood behind them and made sure to get the ball when it occasionally got past the fielder.

The next year, Aaron moved up a league, and so did I. At eight, he played his first year of Little League minor’s baseball. From the beginning of minors, I showed up at all the practices and all the games I could. Since the players were older and more experienced, I was able to ‘coach’ and be less of a volunteer babysitter. I sat in the dugout and helped keep the kids under control. During the games we talked baseball, or we stood banging at the fence cheering on our teammates.

As another year passed, Aaron turned nine and I could drive him around. I continued to coach his team. We were the Essex Cardinals, and I became the assistant coach. I committed myself and made it a point to be at every game and practice. The other coaches liked me because, unlike the older coaches, I could still do all the drills with the kids, tempering their energy with my own.

Sometimes people say a good friend is like the brother they never had. Aaron is the brother I do have. I want him to succeed. I also want to be the best at everything I do, but I want him right there with me.

In the first game of the year, Aaron came in as a relief pitcher. He threw a 1-2-3 inning, and I will never forget it. But unfortunately the team lost. There were definitely times in the season when Aaron did not believe in himself. But I always believed in him, and I worked with him on his confidence. After practice we went home and threw some pitches in the yard, and every time I told him not to aim the ball but just throw it hard. Our practice began to pay off. In another memorable game against the Chester Yankees, Aaron came in to pitch when the score was tied. He pitched well, but gave up the winning run in a 3-2 loss. After the game he was pretty upset, as expected, but I told him I thought he had pitched exceptionally well, and that he should hold his head up. I like to think my words really meant something to him.
I need to tell Aaron I am proud of him more often. After all, he is my brother. I would be proud of him whatever he chooses to do. Luckily he chose something I love: sports. I do not want to take all the credit for his love of sports, or being so good at them, but I push him to do his best. As a coach, I push the entire team. At practice it is time to play, not time to fool around. Together we practice hitting, throwing, fielding, pitching, and running drills. Of course I want the team to do the best they can.

When it came time for the playoff tournament last season, we played in a single elimination format (win or go home.) We won one game, but lost in the finals, a bitter pill to swallow. But at least Aaron and I went through it together.

One of the best things about coaching is the influence I have on all the players, not just Aaron. Since I live in a small town, I run into players in Aaron’s league all the time when I am hanging out with my friends or working. Kids from the team always run up to me to say hi. It’s not always convenient, but it’s a responsibility. I know I need to act and lead by example, and I take it very seriously.

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