To My Son: The Way of the Bear


It has been some time since I made a personal entry on this blog. Much has happened since the last one. My son Matthew is now a strapping 18 year-old All-Star pitcher and Honors student actively in the hunt for a college baseball scholarship. As he finishes his Junior year with Final Exams this week, he has been faced with difficult challenges on all fronts including academics, athletics (facing showcase tourney teams loaded with D-1 commits who can absolutely HIT the ball), and the unexpected, sudden ending to a meaningful personal relationship (nuf ced).

In the midst of this, I gave him a Navajo bear-claw ring which I had originally purchased for myself a generation ago while dealing with overwhelming loss. At that time it was a symbol of inner strength to me, and I wanted to pass it along from father to son as a token of strength for him in this difficult yet all-important time of his life.

Anyone who is the parent of an 18 year-old can appreciate that the depth of my intended meaning in this act might not be fully appreciated for what it is, but giving this ring is a Sacramental: an outward and visible sign of an inner and spiritual thing. Therefore, here is what I mean to say to my son who embodies so much Promise:

 “Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you.”

For Native Americans, the Bear is a life-giving Mother icon: Fiercely protective, clever, quick, big and powerful. A Native American with the word “bear” in their name was considered to be both an excellent provider and a powerful warrior.

For young men still discovering themselves and baseball pitchers in particular, the Bear represents many valuable personal qualities including power, courage, confidence, victory, freedom, protection, discernment, resourcefulness and unpredictability.

Yet in spite of its size and power, the Bear also prefers peace and tranquility which represent harmony and balance.

Be a noble Beast within yourself. Be the Bear.


6 Critical Qualities of a Team Captain

Commitment Continuum arrow w_title

The best captains and team leaders have the following top 6 critical qualities which fall on the “Committed” and “Compelled” levels of the Commitment Continuum pictured above:

  1. The Best Captains are the Hardest Workers: The best leaders are the team’s hardest workers. They invest fully in whatever they do whether it is practice, weights, conditioning or competition.
  2. The Best Captains Encourage their teammates: Instead of being all about themselves, they consciously connect with and help take their team to a higher level. They encourage hard work, build confidence and keep going when times are tough.
  3. The Best Captains are Honest and Trustworthy: The best leaders keep it real. They are honest with coaches and teammates and earn a deep sense of trust. Because being trustworthy is one of the most important traits of a leader, the best captains work hard to earn and maintain trust and respect.
  4. The Best Captains Respect Others: Along with honest and trust, the best leaders are high character people. They treat their teammates, coaches, opponents and officials with respect, even when they disagree with their decisions. They seek to help, uplift and serve their teammates.
  5. The Best Captains Care Passionately: The best leaders care passionately about the team’s success, their teammates, and their sport. They love the game and bring passion to everything they do. They play their sport because they absolutely love it. They are the first ones to arrive at practices and workouts, and the last ones to leave because they invest so much in the program.
  6. The Best Captains are Relentlessly Competitive and Compelled to Win: The #1 trait that consistently comes through in the best leaders is that they are highly competitive people. Winning is a big priority for them and they invest the necessary time and energy to maximize the team’s chances of winning. They bring a sense of urgency to competitions as well as workouts because they are fully committed to and serious about success.

What’s Really Important in Baseball and Life

This is a handout that Matt received at his first Division 1 practice. From an unattributed source, it is outstanding advice for any age.


  • Have a can-do attitude
  • Have a “how can I help” attitude
  • Have a “we can win” attitude – think like a winner!
  • NGU – Never Give Up!!
  • When you’re down, you have to get back up
  • When a teammate of your team is down, be an encourager
  • Remember – A winning attitude is contagious, so is a losing attitude
  • It’s your job to stay positive
  • Have a short memory: When you make a mistake, forget it and go on. If your teammate makes a mistake, tell him to forget it. Encourage, encourage, encourage.


  • Always hustle on and off the field
  • Give your best at all times
  • Always be ready – don’t space out
  • Know what the current game situation is at all times


  • Have a hunger to learn
  • Always look the coaches in the eye
  • Listen
  • Change when you need to change – don’t be a “know it all”
  • Look for any opportunity to learn


  • Be a gentleman/lady
  • Never argue with an umpire, respectfully let him know what your thoughts are
  • No temper tantrums
  • Show good sportsmanship
  • Show respect to your teammates, your opponents and your coaches
  • Be Honorable


  • Take control of your life, be responsible for everything that “happens” to you
  • Organize your gear at home so you are ready to go
  • Practice regularly. Don’t waste time
  • Be Dependable
  • Be Consistent
  • Know that your team is counting on You
  • Have Poise: Be cool, never let them see you sweat

A Ball Player’s Prayer by Hal Skinner

Give Thanks

Give Thanks



God grant me wisdom to tell a strike from a ball,

To know where to throw, and never to fall.


Keep me always in the base line, running straight and true,

And I’ll look for Your sign to stretch one into two.


God give me vision to see every pitch,

So if a player needs help, then I will see which.


Let me always hustle so I’ll be at my best

And take pride in myself, in sports and the rest.


God be my strength when I throw the ball

When I’m far from home plate, or against a wall.


So I never miss a base, please guide my feet,

Bring me home safely, so my job is complete.


When I help younger players, let me always give praise,

So they’ll see You in me, in all of my ways.


God please guide our coach to be fair and smart,

To teach us to be good, let it come from his heart.


Let me take a loss just as well as a win,

To do any less is surely a sin.


As long as I can play, let me make my parents proud,

As proud as I am when they yell MY name out loud.


However my games end, let me always have fun,

And if Heaven has All-Stars, I want to be one.


When my games here are over and my seasons are done,

Let me play on Your team, just like Your own Son.






The Sportsmanship Code of Babe Ruth League


Develop a strong, clean, healthy body, mind and soul.

Develop a strong urge for sportsman-like conduct.

Develop understanding of and respect for the RULES.

Develop courage in defeat, tolerance and modesty in victory.

Develop control over emotions and speech.

Develop spirit of cooperation and team play.

Develop into real, true CITIZENS.



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