Coaching a 10-year-old in any sport can be challenging.
Coaching your own children is almost always an extra challenge, but then coaching my son, Dominic, it's completely on another level, like a level that would take me to the psychiatric ward at a nearby hospital.
Let me give you some of the nicknames I have come up with for him over the course of our 23-game season this spring and summer: "The Correction Kid" and "The Honest Guy."
For instance, any time I try to give a pep talk, or try to speak to the team after a loss, he feels compelled to put himself into the conversation.
After a recent playoff game in which we just upset a team that defeated us twice during the season, I was trying to tell them how proud I was of them because they had scored four runs off one of the best pitchers in our league.
I was really trying to capture one of those Disney movie moments, imagining that Bruce Willis or Jim Belushi might play me in the film, and just when I felt I had the kids' attention, and had them absolutely captivated, Dominic interjects:
"Everybody hit him except me. He struck me out twice."
He was right, but talk about bringing down the mood at the moment. You never hear a peep from his twin brother, Vincent, but Dominic, he's more like a boom!
Before that game, I reminded my kids that even though this team had beaten us 5-4 and 12-9, that we could still beat them. Of course, Dominic decided now was the time to correct his dad in front of the team.
"They beat us 5-4 and 12-8 Dad. Don't you remember? We were up 8-2, and they came back and scored 10 runs on us in the final three innings."
He was correct, but sometimes, embellishing to get the troops to rally around you is an OK thing in sports. Dominic would never last in an MLB dugout during Game 7 of the World Series with someone like Billy Martin managing a team.
Here's one more story to drive home my point: We just got done getting stomped by a team in the final game of the regular season by 10 runs. We started 8-3 and finished 9-9, limping into the playoffs. I tried to rally the team with a speech again, this time sounding more like Walter Matthau in "The Bad News Bears" than anything.
"Look around you, guys," I said to them. "There's no one coming to the rescue. Your teammates and yourself (dramatic pause) ... that is all you have to count on over the next two weeks. This is who you are going to have to win with."
If I may, that was pretty good. Now that I think of it, maybe Kevin Costner could play me. But here comes the Bill Murray of our team with his reply, again spoiling the moment.
"What about Ben Sosnowski, Dad? We get Ben back from vacation, and he should help us, right?"
He was right. Ben was away for the week, but again, bad timing. Could you imagine a kid like that at West Point in the locker room during a rousing halftime speech?
I love him dearly, but someday he is going to have coaches who aren't named Mr. Franco, who aren't going to bite down on their tongue or clench their jaw during a speech.
What then? Unless, he gets an uncle named Franco (as in my brother John) to coach him someday.
Oh my gosh! Say a prayer for him everyone, and hopefully you'll finish it before he adds his two cents.
Scott Franco is a member of the Altoona Mirror sports staff, a husband and a father of four. Reach him at 946-7528 or firstname.lastname@example.org.