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Jenna Missed the Bus

Updated: Feb 28, 2021

by Jerrad Hardin

A two-hour bus ride awaited the Lady Falcon Softball Team. The first pitch would spin toward the plate at 7:00 p.m. It would be the start of an important game, for the winner would be advancing to the state tournament.

Coach Evans liked to arrive early to the fields. He always felt as though being early gave his team a chance to get acclimated to the surroundings before competing. After a decade of coaching, it had always been this way. So, he scheduled the bus departure for 3:30 in the afternoon.

That Saturday morning, he woke a little late, after staying up the night before playing potential game scenarios in his mind. He was going to be late for a 10 a.m. batting practice, he now regretted having scheduled.

When he arrived at the field, Jenna was the first to approach Coach Evans. Before he ever stepped from his truck, Jenna was knocking on his window with a wide smile, playfully admonishing him with a squint of her eyes and a long wagging finger.

When Coach Evans opened his truck door, Jenna wasted no time. “Coach, you’re late - that’ll be ten foul poles – or you could do push ups – your choice – let’s get to it!” She clapped her hands in rapid succession and laughed along with a chorus of teammates who joined in.

Okay, Okay, Okay,” Coach Evans dismissively waved his hand and ushered his team toward the field.

Jenna was the team’s best player, a senior pitcher who had earned the right to joke with her coach. They had known each other well before Jenna ever played softball. Coach Evans had been Jenna’s grade school P.E. teacher and they had formed a special bond.

As a fourth-grader Jenna would often be late for gym class, something Evans eventually learned to deal with – but never accept. Consequences never seemed to work – so, instead of getting mad, Evans nicknamed the young girl “JJ – ‘Just Jenna’” – implying everything was “Just” on her time.

When Jenna took an interest in softball, Coach Evans was right there to teach her about the game. When she decided to pitch, he made sure to show her how. Coach Evans began to see her as the daughter he never had. He developed a soft spot for Jenna and became tolerant of her ways – except when it came to being late for a softball-related activity. In those cases, she was made accountable and punished on each infraction.

Jenna poked, “So, Coach – is it time for a nickname for you? How about ‘Maybe Evans’?”

Several laughed with one explaining, “Like ‘Maybe’ he’ll be on time.”

Jenna added in a charming tone, “Or, ‘Maybe” he won’t.