As many of us took time to celebrate the matriarchs in our families last week, there certainly should be plenty of credit given to the impact these women have on the sports that many of us enjoy to this day.
I see it every week and I don’t think Tehachapi is necessarily the exception to the rule. Like clockwork, mothers across America are giving more into the sports and lives of their children than they will ever get back in return.
The term “soccer Mom” was coined years ago but I’m pretty sure that term should be updated to include “football mom,”, “baseball mom,” “travel-sports mom” and you get the picture. Behind every kid in the dugouts or on the sidelines is a mom who probably had a major role in getting them there, physically and philosophically.
Here in our community they’re the ones driving the SUVs with far too-many team stickers to count on the rear window and driving like the car is stolen (because she’s probably running late). They’re working the snack bars, fundraisers, sitting on boards and making things tick so the kids can enjoy the game.
I’m certainly not undervaluing the role of dads, either, but let’s be honest: the dad-role is hyper-focused on performance, fundamentals and results. Mom’s making sure the uniform isn’t on backward and that everybody has their shoes. It’s a highly trained position best left to the professionals.
Having spent my fair share of time on buses and planes with young men away from their mothers for the first time, nothing had the impact like a phone call from mom or a game with her in attendance. In 2011 when I was with Cal State Bakersfield basketball, we traveled to Newark, N.J., to play New Jersey Tech. We had a young man on the team named Mo Hughley who was from nearby New York.
The night before the game he got to see his mother, Alison, for the first time in months. She gave him has favorite meal, oxtails and rice with gravy. Mo, who was a bench player usually good for a few points a game, came up with twice that to go along with three steals, three blocks and a team-high eight rebounds in a milestone win for the program.
Those of us who watched him play all season thought it was a different player. One coach said, “Mo could have played in the Big East tonight.” I guess the impact of mom’s cooking and having her in the stands for the first time in his college career was the key ingredient.
I was traveling across the country a year later when the mother of a young man on our baseball team lost her fight with cancer while we were on the flight. When we landed in North Carolina, he refused to go home. Instead, he played every game of that series and led the team offensively.
A few weeks later, playing back in Bakersfield the evening of his mother’s funeral, he not only went 3-for-5 with 3 RBI, he hit a home run as well. It was one of the most emotional moments I had during a baseball broadcast. There was no doubt who that hit was for and I made sure the audience knew about it.
Some of us are blessed to still be able to thank our mothers in person for the thankless job that they undertake. I remember my first baseball game and my mom telling me that before my uniform was complete, I needed a good luck charm. She took an old baseball necklace out of her jewelry box and handed it over. While that necklace didn’t last long, my need for something lucky in baseball would continue through my career. I guess I know where I get the superstition from.
So, while we move past Mother’s Day, we certainly won’t forget the impact that mom has had and is having on young and old athletes alike. She’s the No. 1 fan, the equipment manager, the schedule-maker and the financier of dreams. She’s also the taxi to practice and games, not identified by stereotypical yellow, but by those aforementioned team stickers, and her fair share of ill-advised lane changes.
Keep up the great work mom. The team needs you.
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides in Tehachapi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are his own.