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Human Harbour

A few weeks ago, the Wolvog was playing catcher and he got a bit banged up.  It’s normally one of his favourite positions, but the ball was being thrown fast and hard, and a few times, he turned his body and ended up getting hit.  He left the game bruised, but seemed fine emotionally.  We had a good talk as we walked to the car that the worst had happened — he had been hit by the ball — and he survived.  Fears Be Gone.

He’s a great fielder, so the coach normally places him at base, especially since we’re now in the championship games and he can use each child in their best position twice in one game.  In the last game, the Wolvog was also set to play catcher again.  He donned the gear and stepped to home plate and crouched into position, but when the first ball was thrown, instead of staying down and catching it, he popped up and away from the ball.  The coach reminded him to stay down, and another pitch was thrown, and again, he jumped out of the way.

It was so hard to watch because he was obviously terrified.  I heard him telling one of the assistant coaches that he couldn’t do it, he was too scared.  And that man crouched down over the Wolvog, becoming a human harbour for his body, and he gently talked him through each pitch, making sure he knew he was protected while also encouraging him to catch the ball.  That man remained crouched over the Wolvog for the entire inning, giving him the ability to play the position and feel safe.

I’m not sure if I was more touched that an adult did that for my son — saw him terrified and made sure that he felt safe so the Wolvog could play his position — or if it was more seeing my son overcome all the fears that rushed back at him when he found himself crouching at home plate again.

His team won the game, rallying when they were six runs down.  Because of coaches like that.

Has someone ever created a human harbour for you — either in actuality or figuratively — so you had the emotional strength to do what you needed to do?


1 Meghan { 06.07.12 at 7:39 am }

With so many stories about crazy coaches and insane little league parents, this post and the picture made me so happy. It’s nice to know there are still good people who care about the kids. I’m glad wolvog got the support he needed to overcome his fears

2 BigP's Heather { 06.07.12 at 8:39 am }

What an amazing leader!! Much like you.
I feel that way about this community you have pooled together here. Without it, I don’t think I would have survived infertility treatments with as much sanity as I have. When I was down, people always rallied around. They helped me navigate the scary waters and talked me through the terrifying bits.

3 Pale { 06.07.12 at 9:00 am }

What a great story.

No, I don’t think anyone ever did for me … except maybe my husband, who still fills that role sometimes. Hopefully I reciprocate. This is a great reminder — with a great visual — of what I want for my kids.

4 EmHart { 06.07.12 at 9:00 am }

When my last relationship broke down my three sisters took me away on a holiday, just the four of us, to a little cottage in Wales and they did this for me. They crowded in around me so I was utterly safe.

5 a { 06.07.12 at 9:07 am }

That’s a great coach!

I’m too independent to seek a human harbor…

6 Cece { 06.07.12 at 9:33 am }

What a sweet coach! He looks like my husband from the picture – so I’m assuming he’s this big, physically tough guy who is a big softie inside. Love it.

7 It Is What It Is { 06.07.12 at 10:45 am }


8 Tigger { 06.07.12 at 11:03 am }

I idea that someone would do that for a child not theirs brought me to tears. It shows that he’s a good coach who actually cares about the kid, not just the game. Wonderful man!

And poor Wolvog. Having to face your fears is hard. Being able to face them with someone else is easier. I hope he’s doing better!

9 Peg { 06.07.12 at 11:47 am }

I loved this story. Kudos to the coach for helping your son get through the fear and props to Wolvog for sticking with it. Our son Damon plays baseball and we’ve been so lucky to have wonderful, supportive coaches. Sports can be such a great place to safely learn some great lessons.

10 Mud Hut Mama { 06.07.12 at 11:49 am }

That is such a beautiful photo – and a lovely post.

11 Io { 06.07.12 at 12:10 pm }

Aw geeze. My eyes are raining a bit. That is such a sweet image.
The question makes me think of my middle school social studies teacher who was this old old tiny Greek woman who would let me and a couple of other kids eat lunch in her room because lunchtime was otherwise an exercise in getting picked on. She was nuts in all the best ways and helped me gain the confidence to be me.

12 Erica { 06.07.12 at 1:49 pm }

The Wolvog is awesome, and I’m glad this coach was there to help him overcome those fears.

My brother stopped playing baseball entirely after a summer spent as a catcher for a winning team (with an especially hard-throwing pitcher). He was in junior high, and refused to talk about it. My dad used to play catcher, too, and he’d been very proud to see his son playing his old position, so it was really hard on the whole family and still remains somewhat mysterious. I can’t help but wonder – if someone like this had stepped forward when my brother had been smaller, if it would have helped.

I had a piano teacher who just liked me. She didn’t care that I wasn’t especially talented or even especially driven. She shared her music with me, and drew music out of me, too. And at a time when I felt awkward at school and at home, she was a port in the storm many times. She was also one of the people who talked to me (and kept talking to me) when Teddy died. She would call, even when I couldn’t keep up a conversation. I will never cease to be grateful for that.

13 Pam/wordgirl { 06.07.12 at 2:12 pm }

What a coach!

Though I’ve had a few people who have provided a safe harbor for me no one more so than my husband. I’m extremely lucky that way. And I agree with the commenter who said that this was a harbor for her in facing infertility. I have said it before and will say it again — I don’t think I would have conceived Z without the help of your blog and your friendship and the support I found here.

And what is that if not a safe harbor?


14 m. { 06.07.12 at 2:38 pm }

OMG, Mel. Tears. That was so touching. I will probably tear up again when I share this post with M (my husband doesn’t venture into our blogs; he counts on me for the recap).

When I think of physical harbor, I think of the child life specialist that gave me her hands and let me squeeze them as hard as possible when I was going through a bone marrow aspiration (yes, as painful as it sounds) when I was 12. At one point, I had hold of her wrists and was probably causing her extreme pain, but rather than squeal she just gently repositioned.

I think of my husband hovering over me in labor, sleepless, painfully aware we were losing our daughters. There. Refusing to leave. And then crawling into the hospital bed with me the following nights.

Like a., there are few people I let touch on me so I don’t think there are many opportunities for people to offer me physical harbor, but emotionally, hells yes, ladies. You are my harbor.

15 Mali { 06.07.12 at 6:51 pm }

Dammit that brought tears (and I’ve just posted about the floodgates opening and never closing). I love that man. And that Wolvog was able to feel safe, and overcome his fears.

I guess in ways my husband has done that for me, though in ways I feel more vulnerable with him too (because of the intensity of emotions and our relationship). I’m not sure I’ve had anyone else. Maybe a guy in my first year at work who told me it was okay to have a sick day – “no-one is indispensible.” Mostly I’ve tried to be independent, even when quaking inside. Or had my fears dismissed, as if they didn’t count.

16 Daryl { 06.07.12 at 10:19 pm }

This is a great story, Mel.

17 Wolfers { 06.07.12 at 10:22 pm }

Cool for Wolvog! It is always touching when someone shelters you as well as encourages you to reach out.

I had thought long and hard after reading this post, at first I couldn’t think of anyone, since I have been alone/single all through the medical tests, the surgery and the grief, even now. I went through friends names, thinking who had been there for me, and that’s Roni, my close friend- she dropped everything to stay with me for a week after surgery, and she was there when I cried about the loss of a close friend during that week. But she had to leave after that week, so I have been on my own ever since late February… and yes, I DO wonder how I am still around. I suspect it helps a lot knowing some of you read my blog and validate my feelings, so I’m not “totally alone.” That’s all I can say at this time…

18 Heather { 06.07.12 at 10:24 pm }

Such a great story!!! So glad to hear about a great person taking care of a kid and making sure they feel safe and continue to play.

19 Seriously?! { 06.07.12 at 10:58 pm }

What an endearing moment to watch…on both fronts!!! It seriously brought tears to my eyes…reminds me of why I teach. Loved this story.

My human shield? Definitely my husband after the stillbirth of my daughter. I barely remember leaving the hospital, but what I do remember is him literally holding me up as we left and then laying by my side in bed in the coming days. I’ll never forget those moments.

20 Lori Lavender Luz { 06.08.12 at 12:15 am }

This post and the image make me so happy.

I can’t think of such a physical human harbor, but my parents have always given me a safe place when I need it.

This coach has himself some goooooood karma.

21 Battynurse { 06.08.12 at 4:59 am }

What a great story and a great coach!

22 JustHeather { 06.08.12 at 5:50 am }

Happy tears from me! 🙂

As much as I was at odds with my mom, dad and stepmom as a teen, my stepmom was there for me whenever I needed to talk to my parents. In fact, I always seemed to have one parent backing me up when I needed to confront or talk to the other two. Even though my parents were divorced and my dad remarried, my parents were friends by choice. It has given a life-long impression of how relationships can be.

23 loribeth { 06.08.12 at 8:35 am }

So sweet. : ) Even without getting hit by a ball, my tendency was always to run away from it — which did not make me very popular with my classmates in phys ed class, lol.

All my online friends, from blogging & message boards, have certainly been a safe harbour for me these past 14 years.

24 KF { 06.08.12 at 8:50 am }

What a fantastic moment captured on film. I hope that when my little boy takes the field one day — he’s almost 2 — he has a mentor like that!

25 Justine { 06.08.12 at 9:15 am }

Beautiful, especially since I see so many coaches now barking orders at their charges instead of supporting them like this. My English teachers in high school provided me with a figurative place like this … for years, I went to their house and stayed overnight, not so much to get away, but to be comfortable in my own skin.

26 Bea { 06.28.12 at 8:36 am }

Aw. That’s awesome.

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