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edu180atl: todd wass 10.4.12

As I sit waiting patiently for one of my pitchers to show up for his off-season workout, I am struck by the complexity of what “off-season workouts” truly mean to a high school athlete. I think about where this will fit in to his day. Still months away from try-outs, and yet his focus is on balancing school while preparing for the perfect first pitch of the season; such is the life of the student athlete.

During the pitching session, we worked on throwing a change-up; a wickedly fun pitch to throw, but frustratingly difficult to master the touch, pressure, and proper pronation of the hand during release. After several attempts at throwing conventional change-ups with various grips with little success –missing his target by some twenty feet each time –I decided to go rogue: to go against conventional baseball ideology and teach a different kind of change-up to this pitcher. Simple in its origin, I asked this pitcher to simply throw a two-seam fastball but just before releasing the ball I asked him to throw the ball with forty percent effort.

While skeptical upon hearing my advice, upon the first attempt at the new change-up, he threw a magnificent pitch –slower than his fastball and with all the movement of the traditional change-up. However, that success was just a small piece of the larger surreal moment; this success made him giddy with a large smile and a boyish laugh ending with exclaiming, “that’s so cool!” He could not control his excitement.

I know that this moment is permanently etched in his brain and mine because for this struggling pitcher the game of baseball became fun again, and for the teacher and coach, I learned that there are times to throw convention to the wind.

About the author: Todd Wass (@toddw42) teaches 7th grade Global Studies at The Lovett School. He is a reader, coach, lifelong learner, devoted husband, and avid outdoorsman. 

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sarah #

    You had a teacher “ah ha” moment. They are very rare but an ultimate thrill to see when a student gets what is being taught and excels.

    October 5, 2012
  2. Baron Heinemann #

    Okay, okay, I’ll follow yet another blog. But, ONLY because I know you personally as a friend and IF you promise that not all blog posts will be about baseball. 🙂 Great post Todd; we miss you around here!

    October 6, 2012
  3. Todd, I love this story. You tell a tale of profound importance – both in the literal and in the metaphorical. As an analogy, I cannot help but think of the translation here if this occurrence had been in the more “traditional classroom.” Would the learner have received initial grades that would have made him grow frustrated to the point of quitting? Would the teacher have employed similar strategies if this had been math or English? There are many lessons here for us all to apply to our teaching and learning situations. Thank you! Hope we run into each other again soon. Every time we do, I become more impressed with your work and impact on learning.

    October 8, 2012

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