I am speaking from personal experience when I say it is tough being a sports’ parent. When your child shows enthusiasm for a certain sport, and the slightest bit of aptitude, it becomes an obsession if they are to be given the tools with which to chase their dreams. 
 
Families have to make sacrifices. By families, I mean even the other children who really “didn’t sign-up for all of this.” The one-child’s pursuit of their dream tends to trump so much of what the other children do, even what your spouse and you would like to do.
 
It is a commitment. It is a complete and total commitment. It is a leave everything on the field and nothing in reserve scenario with, literally, no promise of any return.
 
You do it because you love him/her. You feel honor bound to do it. In the end, it just might pay for the child’s education providing that child opportunities on down the road. It almost never turns out like it did for one of my closest and dearest friends, Robert H. Hassell, II.
 
Robert and I are fraternity brothers. He was in my wedding as one of my groomsmen and I in his in the same capacity. His wife, Jane, and he are god-parents to my children. Technically, they were William’s god-parents but we have always considered “god-parents to one/god-parents to all four.”
 
I have always admired him, and thought the world of him, since our days living at 1804 Fraternity Park Drive.  I remember when “Little Robert” was born and Christened. I also remember when Porter Anne and Mary were born.
 
The name Robert H. Hassell has a long history and has been worn by men of the finest sort. My friend Robert II was named for his father who has passed. “Little Robert” was named for his father and grandfather. You always know what you’re getting with a “Robert Hassell.”
 
You get toughness. You get integrity. You get intelligence. You get diligence. I have known the lot and speak to their possessing these attributes with certainty.
 
I remember “Little Robert” playing in the Little League World Series in 2013 and 2014. I remember his selection as a Perfect-Pitch All-American, his two time selection as the Gatorade Player of the Year in Tennessee, his selection as The Tennessean’s 2019 Baseball Player of the Year and his representing the United States on the 18-Under, National Team in the Baseball World Cup in South Korea.
 
Little Robert led the team in batting average (.514), hits (18), runs(14), doubles (five), home runs (two), and RBIs (14). Now I got those stats online from an article published by the USA Today Tennessee Network. 
 
The point I am making here is for Robert III to get the opportunity to “chase his dream,” Jane and Robert II had to make sacrifices. Porter Anne and Mary had to make sacrifices. It had to be all hands on deck, rowing in the same direction.
 
The most important job of the sports’ parent is to try as best one can to not allow the other children to feel marginalized. It was critically important for both Porter Anne and Mary to be equally celebrated. 
 
They too have dreams. They both are exceptional.
 
Being a sports’ parent can be a lesson in time management. How does one manage time commitments, manage events coming off simultaneously while still evenly allocating a finite source of funding all of the children, and not just the one child, deserve? Each of the three were, after all, equally entitled to an opportunity to chase his/her own dreams by honing his/her God-given talents. 
 
One has to do this on top of going to work and continuing to bring home “the bacon.” It isn’t like baseball doesn’t cost a lot of money either. 
 
Go price a bat, or a top-flight glove. Contemplate what it costs to travel to foreign countries for the Little League World Series or with the National Team to South Korea for the World Cup. Think about the baseball camps, combines, training, and coaching required. 
 
Believe me, this article has barely scratched the surface of what the Hassells have both lovingly and willing spent to insure Robert H. Hassell, III had every opportunity to realize his dream. These things are far from being free.
 
A little over a week ago, the ticket cashed. Robert was the first high-school player selected in the Major League professional baseball player’s draft. He went in the first-round, with the 8th-overall selection, to the San Diego Padres. 
 
It is being reported Hassell will be offered a contract worth tens of millions with a signing bonus in the five-million range. Some people call it a “lottery ticket.” 
 
It isn’t a lottery ticket. Lottery tickets are dumb luck.
 
No sir, make no mistake about it, this had nothing to do with dumb luck. This was accomplished by two-parents, and two sisters, who all were, and continue to be, devoted to “Little Robert” and providing him opportunities to the extent they are capable. 
 
This has happened because of God-given talent; talent which didn’t go unrecognized. This has happened because this family stuck together, sucked-it-up, and soldiered on; giving Robert opportunities he both deserved and for which he tirelessly worked. Opportunities which many parents are either unwilling or incapable of affording their children.
 
There is a story I have heard a long time. I was told “Little Robert” was about four and his dad took him outside to teach him how to swing a bat. “Big Robert” had him swinging right-handed and called it the ugliest thing he had ever seen. “Big Robert” suggested “Little Robert” try something else. 
 
Well, the decision was made to give baseball another go. “Big Robert” turned “Little Robert” around to the left-side, handed him a bat, and had him give it another swipe. Now, that kid is being called “the next Bryce Harper.”
 
I don’t know what happens next. Robert H. Hassell, III will be assigned to a minor league team, probably Double-A, because that is where major league teams assign their top-young-prospects. He will continue to chase his dream, a dream which has never looked more attainable. 
 
Little Robert won’t need as much from Big Robert and Jane as he used to need or as much from Porter Anne and Mary either. His new provider is the San Diego Padres Baseball Organization; and himself, of course.
 
Porter Anne and Mary will have the attention of two very fine parents to continue their abilities to catch their dreams and accomplish the great things which lie in front of both of these girls. Porter Anne and Mary will have two accomplished guides, two careful stewards, and two very capable assistant “dream-catchers” to now help them discover their paths. 
 
At a time when good news is hard by which to come, I have some very good news for America. The good-guys have come out on top here. They have arrived at a destination very few will ever come close to equalling. 
 
They are here because of hard-work, commitment, staying together, staying the course, integrity, and an eternal faith in the path they, as a family, agreed to travel. They have traveled it together. 
 
Don’t call them lucky. They are not lucky. They haven’t been given a darn thing. They have earned it. I, for one, hope they enjoy the harvest. 
 
You can take this for whatever you find it worth but THAT IS THE LONG VERSION!
  

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