A Father's Day Out at Werner Park
Many Omahans have fond memories of driving down to South O to watch the Omaha Royals play at Rosenblatt Stadium; and, although there are many who miss the old stadium, there’s no doubt that Sarpy County’s Werner Park, which hosts the renamed Omaha Storm Chasers, offers a more family-friendly experience.
Since the first Storm Chasers game in April 2011, Werner Park has grown to become a favorite playground for the baseball fan and non-baseball fan alike. Wider concourses, seats with cupholders situated closer to the diamond, and hundreds of televisions around the concession stands practically pamper baseball lovers; and there’s even more fun for the kids. The Park houses the Centris Family Fun Zone, with nearly 7,000 square-feet of inflatables, playground equipment, and a carousel from Universal Studios—which is a huge upgrade from the 1,500-square-foot play area at Rosenblatt Stadium—as well as a wiffleball field and a basketball court for kids of all ages to enjoy. If that wasn’t enough, in 2012 alone, Werner Park is slated to host around 140 events, including Storm Chaser games, local high school games, and special events. It’s the perfect venue for a family outing, especially for dads who want to spend time with their kids.
The importance of fathers spending quality time with their children cannot be overemphasized. In fact, most of us recall at least one special memory of spending time with our fathers; for the lucky ones, there are dozens more. Ask and many people will tell you that those memories come from hanging out with their dad and sharing the ‘love of the game,’ be it football, basketball, baseball, or any sport. For Anthony Seratelli, his passion for baseball is something he shared with his father.
Seratelli, 29, is a utility player for the Omaha Storm Chasers. He played baseball at Old Bridge High School in New Jersey and all four years of college at Seton Hall University before heading to the minors—and he’s been playing even longer, if you count his little league years. “I love everything about baseball. The competition, the camaraderie, the traveling…everything,” he says of the love his late father, Russell, helped him find.
Russell played baseball in high school and enjoyed playing it so much that he got Seratelli into it when he was five with tee-ball. “He coached my little league teams, but he never forced me to play,” Seratelli says. “He was always there if I wanted to practice. It was just something I loved doing, and he was all for it. He was there to support me.”
Seratelli says he and his father were very close. “I told him everything because he was always there to listen. I’d talk about anything, and he’d hear me out and give advice. I can’t even explain how supportive he was, but our relationship was really strong.”
While his father was a great listener and a supportive coach, Seratelli felt that they truly bonded when they got to share their passion for the game. “Every year, he would take me to New York for one of the Yankees games. It was a special day for both of us. I’d pick it out, and he’d take me.”
Charles Spence, licensed therapist and clinical director of Spence Counseling in Omaha, knows just how important it is for fathers to be a part of their children’s lives. “The behavior of fathers tends to give a child more of an identity and forms a child’s view of themselves,” he says, adding that, when fathers spend time with their children, it sends the message that the child is loved.
“When a father attends a child’s sporting event, they send the message to the child that they are valuable, and that the father is proud of their achievements. Even a father going to a sporting event with their child—one in which the child isn’t participating—shows the child that the father values them and wants to spend time with them.” Spence warns, however, that fathers always need to draw the line between support and pressure and be aware of not pushing the child beyond their interests. “It’s important for fathers to encourage the child’s own natural bent, whether that be sports, art, music, hunting, dancing, or academics.”
Participation in sports—both through playing and watching—helps children see themselves in many ways, explains Spence, such as being part of a bigger picture, achieving goals they couldn’t achieve alone, learning how to control emotions, and practicing leadership. These behaviors are also those that are learned from fathers. “Fathers tend to focus more on behaviors, achievements, and other concrete activities than mothers; for example, riding a bike, swimming, or being a good team member for sports. [They] tend to help the child over their negative emotions and experience the thrill of success.”
Boy or girl, children look to their fathers for acceptance through encouragement and quality time together. Spence explains that, for boys, fathers answer the questions of whether or not they can be successful, accepted and loved; for girls, whether or not they’re pretty, lovely, and valuable. “Young men, like my son, always bring me their newest and latest creations, achievements, and medals. They’re looking for a male to validate [them] as significant and worthy…Young ladies, like my daughter and others that I see, are not so much concerned with their achievements as much as how I perceive them emotionally and the value that I show them through my time and attention.”