This year, I have been challenged many times to step outside of my comfort zone while serving as the Louisiana State Teacher of the Year. A few weeks ago, I received notification that I would be throwing the first pitch for the LSU vs. Northwestern game on May 17th. As this was something that I’ve had zero experience with, I knew that I was facing my biggest challenge yet.
Since I knew nothing about pitching, I asked for help from the greatest experts I could find- my students. For the past week, I asked for volunteers from students in morning care, and I would spend about fifteen minutes practicing before school. With each practice, I noticed how much my students loved taking on the role of the teacher. While my baseball skills incrementally improved, the true reward was seeing my students’ confidence grow by leaps and bounds.
When I woke to rain on Tuesday, I was frustrated. My first recognition during an LSU football game had been cancelled due to weather. It had rained the entire time I was in Washington, DC. Now, I was worried that the baseball game would be impacted by the weather. However, the sun began to come out as I drove to Baton Rouge that afternoon, and my mood lifted.
When I arrived at Alex Box Stadium, I was greeted by Jason Suitt, the Director of Fan Experience for LSU. He escorted me into the stadium and asked me to wait by the field. A few minutes later, Jason escorted several more groups to the same area. He then led us onto the field by LSU’s dugout. We were informed that there would be five people throwing the first pitch. We were told the order and handed a baseball. As I grasped my ball, I looked around the stadium marveling at this new experience. It is sad to say, but this was my first time actually on a baseball field.
All too quickly, I was told that it was my turn. I could hear my name being called over the speaker and saw myself displayed on the jumbotron. I reached the mound, turned around, and threw. During my practices, my pitches always went slightly to the left. I was shocked when my first pitch went a little too far to the right. The ball was caught and I walked off the field to a chorus of congratulations. I then stood to the side watching the others take their turn. Although two gentlemen had the best skill, the crowd favorite was a young boy. He was with the Dreams Come True organization, and this had been his greatest dream. His pure joy in the moment stole everyone’s heart.
Afterwards, I headed to sit with members of the Dream Teachers organization. Dream Teachers works with the Louisiana Department of Education to honor great teachers in Louisiana. There I had a great time watching the game and reliving my first pitch.
While driving home, I reflected on the entire experience. I was surprised by answer when I asked myself, “Would you ever again agree to throw the first pitch for a game?” My answer was “Yes! Take me out to the ballgame!”