Better Than Perfect(8)

By: Kristina Mathews


Oh yeah. Johnny had loved her. He’d once loved her even more than he loved the game.





2



Zach was off playing video games, so Alice took the opportunity to work on last minute details for this week’s minicamp. She went over the schedule again, making a slight change in the rotation. She cross-checked the participant roster with the t-shirt order, making sure they had the right sizes ordered for each of the players. Tomorrow she and Zach would sort the shirts into groups for easy distribution at the sign-in station. Everything seemed to be in place. It should be—she’d been doing this so long, the program practically ran itself. But for some reason, she had a nagging feeling that this year wasn’t going to be as easy as she’d hoped.

She took one last look at her notes, hoping whatever it was would work itself out by Monday, and closed the file. She took a deep breath and opened the other file she’d been working on. The one with the nearly completed application packet to the teacher credential program she planned on enrolling in for next fall. She’d managed to graduate before Zach was born, but her dream of becoming a teacher had been put on hold.

She had the application, resume, test scores and letters of recommendation. But for some reason, she still wasn’t satisfied with her essay. She’d rewritten the darn thing so many times, it might as well be a novel. She knew exactly what the problem was.

Fear.

She wasn’t afraid of not being accepted. That was the easy part. She’d graduated with a near perfect grade point average. She’d taken all the preparatory courses and tests. The only reason she hadn’t gone straight from her undergraduate program to the credential program was because she’d gotten married, had a baby and moved out of state.

At the time, it had made the most sense. Mel only wanted to take care of her and the baby. She’d done her best to be a good wife and mother. And daughter-in-law. The Harrisons lived two doors down. Most young brides would have been uncomfortable having their mother-in-law so close, but Alice had been grateful.

When Mel’s mother had approached her about starting the Mel Harrison Jr. Memorial Foundation, Alice hadn’t hesitated. She knew nothing about running a charitable foundation, but giving something back to the community was a wonderful way to honor Mel’s memory. And help them all through the grieving process.

She’d had no idea how successful the foundation would become. They’d started by gathering private donations to support youth programs already in place in the community. But Frannie and Mel Sr. were able to gather a lot of support from his wealthy clients and her social contacts. Soon, they had more money than programs to donate to. By then, Zach had started participating in youth sports and Alice got to see the impact positive male role models could have on a boy without a father.

When the Goliaths had contacted her about doing a community service project, she suggested having the players interact with young athletes. They started small. A one-day thing more about signing autographs and taking pictures than actual player development. But the program evolved from there, growing into a weeklong afterschool clinic.

Doing a summer camp wouldn’t work, since the pro athletes were in the middle of the season when the kids were out of school. So they lined up an early February camp. Right before the pros reported to spring training, and just in time to prepare the kids for their Little League tryouts.

It was a good program. A worthy cause. But it wasn’t enough anymore.

She read over her essay one more time. Not bad. Not perfect, but it gave a sense of who she was and why she would make a good teacher. She just had to attach the letter and hit Send.

She moved the cursor to just a click away from her future.

The phone rang, shaking her conviction. She saved the file and closed it without sending. She got up to find the cordless, but Zach poked his head into the kitchen.

“Mom. Phone.” He handed it to her on his way to the refrigerator. “It’s Russ Crawford.”

Russ was the Director of Player/Community Relations. He was the liaison between the Goliaths and her program. He lined up the players. She lined up the funding. He helped her communicate with the pros, and she helped them communicate with the kids.

“Bad news.” Russ had been working with Alice for the last five years, and he was always a straight shooter. “Cooper won’t be available next week.”

“What seems to be the problem?” She managed to maintain a professional composure. Even though he’d just told her she would be scrambling the next few days. At least now she knew where the nagging feeling had come from.