My Favorite Catcher. Ever.

My favorite catcher was never an All American.  My favorite catcher never caught me a single day in a college or high school game.  My favorite catcher is actually 31 years older than me, and I always call my catcher, Dad.

Now, you won’t be able to find his name, Mark Scarborough, anywhere in a press release, a starting lineup or recognized for any major collegiate award. But because of the impact he made and continues to make on me, I’ll always be able to find him in my memories of growing up playing softball and inside of my heart.  Some of my best memories are throwing at a park nearby the house where I grew up, where we put in endless hours of time, not just pitching, but taking groundballs, fly balls and hitting.

When I was younger, I knew my dad got off work at 5pm, and I would be waiting outside in the driveway around 5:15 with his bucket, his glove, my glove, and a ball, ready to go pitch.

He had just spent an entire day at work, but was always willing to catch me whenever I needed or wanted him to, without complaining at all.  He knew that it would make me happy and that we would get to spend time together.  I actually looked forward to wanting to go out to the park and work with my dad; I didn’t dread it.  I imagine that if I would have dreaded working with my dad, or my mom for that matter, I wouldn’t have WANTED to practice as much.  But because my relationship with him was so strong, I actually wanted to practice more, creating a work ethic inside of me that is relentless today. I don’t know anything other than working hard for what I want….it’s engrained inside of me from a young age. I’ve watched my dad forever, and when I was younger, my dad LET me work hard by helping me when I needed him to, even in the moments he may have been exhausted from work.

As a family, you spend so much time together doing softball (practicing on your own, going to and from games, at team practices, at lessons, etc), and at the end of it, I came out loving him even more.  Some players grow up despising their dads – not wanting to practice with them, not wanting to take their advice, and copping an attitude with their dads.  That was never really the case with me, and I can tell you, it still pays dividends in our current relationship we have to this day.  I love calling him and getting to have conversations with him, even though we both have a really crazy/busy schedule.  It never gets old.

Amanda Scarborough Dad

My dad has always had a calm demeanor, always wanting the best for me, but never going to raise his voice in order to get what he wants.

He didn’t raise his voice, because he could communicate with me in a way where he got his point across in a normal tone, and I would still hear him without him having to scream. 

Looking back at all the times I worked with my dad, I can tell that he was content with himself and his own personal achievements in his lifetime; never did I feel he was trying to live vicariously through me, whether it was at lessons or games.  By him having a calmer demeanor, I truly feel that it let my inner motivation develop, grow, and shine, so now it is a quality that I still possess today, even outside of pitching.

Every dad or mom is not going to have the same personality, and how they choose to handle working with their daughters will vary.  But know that no matter which personality you have, you are similarly having a daily impact with your daughters where you will see effects years and years down the road.  When I say “daily,” I absolutely, 100% mean daily impact.

The interactions you have now (at practices, during lessons, during games or AFTER games) are molding how you will interact with your daughter later on (when it really matters while talking about things that are outside of softball…..yes there ARE things outside of softball).  It’s not about what you know, it’s about how you deliver what you know.  The softball conversations, feelings and impressions you are making with your daughter now are shaping the relationship outside of softball you will have with her later.

Amanda Scarborough Family

I think the very most important part is that both parties (adult and child) figure out a form of communication and practice what works for BOTH sides.

Remember, Communication 101, is that for communication to happen, there has to be a sender AND a receiver.  If you are not being heard, then you are not communicating – plain and simple.

The more you get creative and figure out a way to talk to your daughter, the more she will listen to you and the more she will want to work throughout the week; thus, creating a better player and better work ethic along the way (which lasts a lot longer than softball). The parent may have to give a little bit, and probably will have to give a little bit more than the player, because at the end of the day it’s about the player, not about the parent.  And it’s about the player because you’re trying to get that player to 100% of her potential and do whatever it takes to get that to come out.  So….sometimes, it’s having customizable communication plans –  it could be different day to day, week to week, year to year. If one way of communicating is not working, and it’s leading to fights and unproductiveness, then it sounds like something needs to change.

One thing about my dad, is that I never felt like he was trying to PROVE anything when I worked with him – to me, to himself, or to anyone else.

When he corrected me, it wasn’t by yelling, or trying to hold above me that he KNEW more than I did.  He was teaching me, not just wanting to tell me what he knew – there’s a difference.

He offered suggestions based off of observations.  A lot of times he would wait until I needed help and asked for it before he gave it. When he did give it, he talked to me in a way that I respected listening to his input.  He established that connection from the first times of going out to pitch that we ever had.  We had conversations (two-sided) about pitching. This continued through all ages when I pitched with him, even when I would come back from college and throw over the summers or over winter breaks.  I would look forward to throwing to him, sitting on his bucket with his legs off to the side so that his shins/feet were out of harms way (there’s a story to this, and my mom has a theory….later blog, on a different date!).  I WANTED to throw to him. I enjoyed it; we both did. It’s some of the best times we have ever spent together.

I can’t thank him enough, and I am so THANKFUL for him and our relationship. I know I am a little bit biased, but a lot of people like my dad.  He’s definitely a fan favorite.  He’s awesome to be around; he knows sports, can talk business, can talk hunting or fishing, and boy, does he love his Houston sports (and the Cowboys).  He’s so humble.  (In fact, I know he’s going to be embarrassed when he sees this blog.)

I am so lucky that he is the way he is, because after all the time we’ve spent together, he’s had such a major, positive influence on me.  He’s so hard working, and in fact, he’s one of the ones who has taught me that hard work will pay off. 

It’s such a simple lesson, but when you are surrounded by someone who is truly living and breathing the hard-work-pays-off lifestyle and mentality, then only you, yourself, can take it on after seeing the rewards it reaps.  He rarely, rarely complains.  And somewhere along the way (maybe after watching hours upon hours of different sports on TV),  he taught me what it meant to compete.  He taught me a way of competing where you don’t rub it in anyone’s face – a quiet competitiveness – where you just go about your own business, doing your own thing, and prove it in your own way.   There’s never a need to rub it in or say loudly what you can do.   He taught me your actions speak for themselves.

It’s because of all these things that he’s my favorite catcher of all time.  You can spend A LOT of time with a catcher, and the endless hours and thousands upon thousands of pitches I threw to him mean so much to me. To be honest, I can’t remember exactly what we worked on on all those different days, but what I can tell you, is the way he made me feel when I was out there doing the thing I love, getting to throw to the person I love, is what I will remember forever and ever.  I felt supported.  I felt like someone was on my side and on my team.  I felt like I was learning.  I felt like softball was fun. I felt like I had a voice. I never felt like I had  to pitch; I felt like I got to pitch.  He helped create an environment, where I looked forward to practicing to try to become the best player I could possibly be.  Indirectly, he was teaching me to become the best person I could be, as well.  In the end, it’s not about how you’re teaching to hit or teaching how to throw a change up, it’s about making a girl, with a ball and a bat feel AWESOME about herself, and like she can go out and conquer the world.  I know it’s hard to think about that in a 30 minute practice, but just consider that the way you are talking to your daughter now WILL, for better or worse, have a major impact on her (and your relationship) later.

Big thanks to my mom for choosing such a great guy. I love you both so much.

Amanda Scarborough family

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Amanda Scarborough

Big 12 Freshman of the Year (2005)
Big 12 Player of the Year (2005)
Texas A&M Softball All American ('05 & '07)
Big 12 Pitcher of the Year (2007)
WCWS Appearances ('07 & '08)
Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee (2014)
ESPN Softball Analyst
The Packaged Deal co-founder

24 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Amanda, thank you soo much for this blog. I am a single mother to a son. We have been struggling, because there is a breakdown in the way we communicate. I am so encouraged by your relationship with your dad and the way he communicated things to you!!
    I take heart and hope to change and improve and continually work on my way of communication. I am the mom out there doing the sport thing with him. He plays rugby, but I am an avid runner and active lifestyle and it encourages him to live that way.
    I really needed this blog this morning…sat here crying reading it. What an incredible gift you have in your dad!! It warms me through and through to hear you praise and value him.
    Blessings to you and your family!!

    • Hi Shelly,

      THanks so much for your post. There’s a way to figure out how to communicate — there always is! It’s give and take, and both people have to try to make it work. Always happy when people take some things away from my blogs. Thanks again for your post and take care – A

  • The thing that comes to mind when i read this is “thank you”. I cannot wait to catch my 16 yr old again tomorrow.

  • Beautiful blog Amanda. I was also lucky to have a dad that never once forced me into a practice or lesson. Although i was on the opposite side of the plate as a catcher 🙂 He made softball such an enjoyable challenge, always leading me in a positive direction. That direction took me 800 miles to University of Illinois. My family didn’t have the money for travel so I called him after EVERY game. To this day my greatest memories from college are seeing him, my mom, and grandparents in the stands when we came to Texas to play at your Texas A&M or Baylor. Sorry this was so long winded. Just brought up some amazing memories. THANK YOU AGAIN!

    • Thanks for your post! Your dad sounds like a great man, too. Funny, as I read this I was sitting next to Shana Diller 🙂 Not long winded at all! Happy I could help some awesome memories pop back up in your head! Take care!

  • Amanda,
    Thank you for your post. It is a beautiful tribute to your dad. Our daughter, Marla, is currently a college pitcher at Ga Southern. She sent your blog to her dad for Valentine’s Day with the line this is perfect for my dad.
    Again thank you & may God bless you in all your future endeavors,
    Judy Thompson 😀 Go Eagles! GATA

  • Amanda,
    Thank you for this it is a great tribute to your dad. Our daughter, Marla, sent this to her dad for Valentine’s Day. They too have a special relationship that has been molded and shaped through softball. She is currently a pitcher for Ga Southern University. Her work ethic is tremendous in both the classroom and in the bullpen. She continues to seek her daddy’s guidance after yesterday’s game she called to talk to her dad. I’m so grateful for the bond they have.
    God Bless you in all your future endeavors,
    Judy Thompson Go Eagles!! GATA

  • Amanda, Thanks so much for this heartfelt article. I shared this with my soon to be 14 year old daughter. I have been with her every step of the way, from her first lesson when she was eleven, when Daddy didn’t actually get to sit on the bucket (I was busy retrieving poorly thrown balls), to the present, where I’ve seen this unsightly moth transformed into a beautiful butterfly, that can hit corners while throwing amazing breaking pitches. I don’t think of all the endless hours of hard work or the bruised and bleeding shins that I had to endure. Rather, I think about the time I have gotten to spend with my baby. We are much closer because of this dream that she has chosen to allow me to be part. Thanks so much! You captured this unique relationship so very well in your words!

  • This absolutely brought tears to my eyes……..I’m sharing this with my daughter today and I hope that she sees me in the same light that you see your father! I know one thing for certain, you are a very blessed woman and I’m certain you father feels doubly blessed. Thanks for sharing!

  • Enjoyed reading this as my daughter did too. Since she picked a ball up till today (on our way to Corpus Christi from Oklahoma City to go do a camp and visit to Texas AM CC) we have worked countless hours pitching, hitting , and fielding. Many of birthday parties, sleepovers, and other fun stuff missed because of the D1 dream. She is 5’3″ 138 pounds of pitching fury! Defeat is not a part of her creed!!! Old dad has and will be her #1 catcher!

  • Thank you again, your words of wisdom are so meaningfull and truly touch home. I feel like I need to give you a huge hug right now. You have been So helpful.

  • My daughters catcher is her sister. They are a year a part and always have had a special relationship. Growing up they finished each other’s sentences. Oh they argue too. Now they are in high school I can’t believe it. They work hard everyday on pitching catching batting. My girls are Haley freshman pitcher and Madison sophomore catcher. They both are on varsity and have been chosen as starters. My younger daughter who pitches hit her first home run in the first league game. I am so proud of them. They came to the package deal in Lakewood CA. And loved it.
    Thank you for all the articles and advice. It really helps.

  • HI Amanda
    What a beautiful article! I believe you were in a softball team that came to Australia in De/Jan 2000 and visited Canberra ! we had one of you girts stay with us and her and her family have become our family ! Thanks again

  • Thank you so much for this story im 17 years old and play softball but this year I had to take the year off because of an unknown injury that I have every time I pass the softball fields it makes me miss the days I was practicing with my father and how much he has taught me and I play first base and outfield and of all the things that he has taught me he taught me too be strong and to always believe in myself even when others don’t think you can do it

  • Hi Amanda, Thank you so much for posting this. It was just like my husband and daughter. He would catch anytime even through college in the summers. It hit a very special place in my heart because her dad was killed in a tragic accident 16 months ago. She has all those great memories of spending time with him and she has carried what she learned as she got married and through her profession. Softball is much more than just a game, it can teach you much about life. Thanks again for posting, may God bless you and your family.

  • Amanda, I have a 12 yr old daughter who I have coached in league ball (Dixie Girls) for 4 yrs. She started pitching 2 yrs ago. She has been dominating in our small league (Bay St. Louis, MS) from the start. A little over a year ago I was approached by a Travel Team Coach interested in Gracey. She has played 1 season of summer & 1 season of fall Travel Ball. We won the Fall Ball 12U World Series in Birmingham, AL a few weeks ago. I have been sitting on that same bucket your DAD has been on, for several years now. Gracey has really turned it on this past year. My point is, we (I) still have major BLOW UPS with her when we are throwing together (just me & her). She still doesn’t have that spark that you had at 12. I still have to encourage her to put the work in. I am not as patient as your DAD, but I know I love the time we spend together (her in the circle & me on my bucket) as much as your DAD does. I am at a crossroad and could use some advice from you and your DAD. I think the sky is the limit for Grace and I don’t want to mess this up.

  • I absolutely love catching my ten year old daughter. I love it because it is one on one time I get to spend with her and we get to talk about the sport we both enjoy, and we get to talk about anything else that interests her. She most likely won’t play college ball or maybe even high school, but I don’t care. I just really love that time on the bucket with my baby girl!

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