Bringing Out Their Best: motivation as art and story

softball-jrgirlsOnce upon a time there was a little girl. She could really catch and really throw, but the thing she could do best was hit. Every time up, she swung that bat and sent the ball way into the outfield.

One day, Coach said, “Wow! How do you do that?!”

“I don’t know,” the girl replied. She hadn’t ever given it much thought.

The next day at practice there was a fence out in center field. “What’s that for?” the girl asked.

“It’s for safety,” Coach said, “so that people don’t get hit by your fly balls.”

“Oh,” the girl replied. She smiled as she held the bat and gave a mighty swing, but ball after ball fell short of the fence. Coach was right. She couldn’t hit it that far.

The next day, the girl swung harder than the day before. The harder she swung the shorter the balls fell. The girl’s tears made it hard for her to see the ball. Sometimes she missed altogether.

“Don’t worry,” the Coach said. “Tomorrow will be better.”

Next day, the outfield had lines spray painted all over. “What are those?” the girl asked.

“They’re yardage markers.” Coach said. “Let’s see how far you can hit it.”

The girl took a few extra practice swings, then swung as hard as she could and fouled it against the backstop. She swung again and she dribbled it to first. Wiping the tears, she tightened her grip and swung with all her might.The ball popped up, barely over the second base bag.

“Don’t worry,” Coach said. “Tomorrow will be better.”

Next day wasn’t better. It was windy and cold. The girl shivered in her team jacket and sweat pants. Soon the season would begin and the team would be counting on her to hit home runs over that fence. But wait. The fence was gone. So were the lines.

“Where are the lines,” the girl asked. “And where is the fence?”

“We didn’t need them,” Coach said. “Just hit it to me.” Coach smiled and walked into the outfield where he turned and waited, with glove ready.

The girl picked up the ball and hit it. Crack! It flew high and far. Coach caught it and threw it back in.

Scooping up the ball, the girl tossed and hit it again.The coach caught and threw. Crack…pop. Crack….pop. Crack…..pop, they went. Until, crack….clink…thud.

Coach and girl watched as the ball sailed higher and further. Over the coach, over the glove and over the fence.

“Home run!” Coach called, raising both hands.

The girl smiled through new tears as she stared at the place where the ball disappeared over the fence. She looked down at her bat, now scuffed and smudged. Then she looked at her hands still holding tight. “How did you DO that?” she asked them.

They didn’t answer. She didn’t really want to know.

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