When students lack confidence, it can prevent them from achieving their full potential.
That's an issue Toledoan Tom Cole has focused on in an entertaining sports-themed book he hopes will convince children that they have what it takes to forge ahead.
Benny and Babe is about a young baseball player who is about to be cut from his seventh-grade baseball team.
But Benny's confidence soon gains a boost from the arrival of a baseball named Babe -- which is, after all, "the most recognizable name in all of baseball, Babe Ruth," Mr. Cole said. Babe helps Benny understand that he already had what it took to be a good pitcher.
"Having been privileged to be in education so long, I saw a recurring theme among kids: the ability to garner confidence in what you did," Mr. Cole said.
He taught history and English during most of his career at St. John's Jesuit High School. He also taught at Waite and the former DeVilbiss high schools, and at St. Joseph Central Catholic High School in Fremont. He coached football and basketball at Adrian College.
"They all have skills and talents," said the radio and TV sports commentator who has worked for the last nine years on BCSN-TV of Buckeye CableSystem, owned by The Blade's parent company, Block Communications, Inc.
"What's lacking is one person to tell them, 'You can do this,' " he said. "There is so much peer group pressure on young people. When they don't do well at something, they want to quit."
Mr. Cole's book was a family affair. His son, Clayton, was the illustrator, his wife, Karen, the organizer, his daughter, Christy Cole-Hemke, put out the word about it on social media, and his grandchildren, Cole, almost 2, and Josie, 3, gave it a thumbs up.
"I have seen young people in classrooms say they were not good at something, and people believed in them and fostered confidence [in them]," he said. "You have to provide confidence for young people."
His way of doing that was creating Benny and Babe. In the back of the book is a vocabulary list, math to help youngsters figure out batting averages, and essay questions for parents or teachers to ask youngsters.
It is available for $20.99 on Amazon.com; can be downloaded for $3.04 e-book format; and can be checked out at the Main Library, 325 Michigan St., and at area schools.
Contact Rose Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6178.