The more I have learned about Teach Like a Pirate (Dave Burgess), the more I believe that my dad is a pirate, too. Not in the same way that educators are, but in his own unique way.
Passion: My dad has an incredible passion for softball, playing in the over-70 league. He has played ever since grade school. Dad played on work teams throughout his career. Ever since he and my mom retired, he has played for the church league down in Bella Vista, Arkansas. In addition, he has been on various traveling senior softball leagues, playing in tournaments all over the south. He's won a wealth of accolades, including MVP of the World Senior Softball Championship. Did I mention that, in addition to his place as an incredible hitter and all-star outfielder, he's also his team's runner? Amazing!
Immersion: My parents both supported my siblings and I, attending every one of our games, concerts and ceremonies. Now that we are grown, they are still interested in our activities and achievements, although they don't always get to see us in person. Immersing themselves in softball, my mom and dad travel all over the country so my dad and his teammates can show those younger guys that they've still got it. My mom lovingly keeps score of every game in her notebook (and has kept all these notebooks dating back through the years). She also brings along a cooler with ice and cold rags to put over my dad's neck to cool him down in extreme heat. My folks don't just dip their toes in the softball water...they dive right in during every season.
Rapport: My dad has a sly sense of humor, and my mom can talk to just about anyone. They get along with everyone they meet, and take on any responsibility needed to help their teams (and their community). My dad has helped coach and create the lineups, and both of them like to socialize with the players and their wives during the out-of-town tournaments. My own family (husband and two children) has joined them for at least one softball tournament each summer, and we are always amazed at the camaraderie among the group. My son, who is almost 18, has joined the team as their bat boy for 10+ seasons. My dad's warmth and team spirit always made him feel like one of the guys. It has been amazing to witness their grandfather-son relationship grow stronger each year.
Ask & Analyze: My dad and I are Twins fans, and enjoy talking about our favorite team's wins, losses and player/team stats. Although he doesn't live in Minnesota anymore, my dad follows every game. We can talk each other's ear off about our shared love of Twins baseball. As for senior softball, after just about every game (and especially at tournaments), my mom will call or text the breakdown of my dad's successes. She shares how many hits (broken down by base), catches and runs he scored. It's almost like I was there. (Remember that it's all written down in Mom's notebooks.) MLB statisticians have nothing on her.
Transformation: My parents have transformed what could have been a relaxing retirement into an engaging whirlwind of activity. They have also transformed an office space into a shrine to all things baseball, displaying every trophy, ribbon, medal and accolade my dad earned over his softball career. A few years ago, my mom had many of my dad's t-shirts from his tournaments made into a quilt (which is displayed in that room). It's like a softball museum in there.
Enthusiasm: Despite a scare years ago regarding his eyesight, my dad plays his heart out every game, and wouldn't miss a game or tournament if he can help it. In addition, you should just see my mom and the other softball wives rooting for their husbands. These guys play in the 100+ degree heat, with a genuine love for the game oozing out of their pores. They play for the pure joy. However, the championship rings, trophies, medals, ribbons, and plaques sure are nice.
So, I am the daughter of a pirate (actually two pirates). I owe my success to these incredible pirates who raised me.
*As further proof of their pirate-ness, they went zip lining on my dad's 75th birthday. Another adventure for these amazing people in the prime of their lives.
Happy 75th birthday, Dad! I love you!
This post was written by this wonderful pirate’s daughter, Sandy Otto.