From as far back as I can remember I have loved sports! With a whiffle ball bat in hand, when I was up to bat in my grandparents back yard, even though I was one of the younger cousins (and a girl), it was my top priority as a 7 year old, to get on base! By the time I was on the Freshman softball team, nothing made me feel more accomplished than making a perfect throw from behind the plate to second base and shocking the umpire as he had no choice but to call the runner OUT at second.
Where did that come from? My dad! He took me to Cardinal baseball games from age 3 where we scored every play of the game from the bleachers. I asked countless questions about the players and statistics… it totally drove him crazy! But I think he truly enjoyed that I knew what the best choices were as we filled out the card to make selections for the upcoming All Star game. Not only did he foster my interest as a fan, but he took my sister and I to the neighborhood park several times a week to play catch, practice batting and hit hundreds of fly-balls to us. We went to the tennis courts at the high school and played until it was dark, and every time there was a summer basketball camp to sign up for, we were the first ones to show up!
The passion to practice, work hard and be competitive is a priceless gift that my dad gave me. But most importantly, he has always believed in me! When I started talking about the dream I had to make it possible for kids on the South and West side of Chicago to have a chance at sports, he said, “if anyone can do that, Tina can!” He was the first person to write out a check to help get the organization started and for the last 7 years, he and my mom are the most dedicated funders of our cause, sending monthly checks, as well as significant donations toward special events.
Both my parents taught me that ALL people matter to God. I am thankful for that and especially to my dad for giving me a passion for sports. It’s been a driving force in my efforts to make sure The Sports Shed stops at nothing to give kids a chance at participating in organized athletics. The kids we serve need a positive alternative to gangs/violence and to feel a sense of belonging. Many of them don’t have dad’s who engage them or can provide for them like mine. It’s the least we can do to give as many kids the opportunity to experience something that inspires and gives them hope.
Happy Father’s Day DAD!