The school year is drawing to an end and countless kids and teachers are tracking the waning days of what has been a busy academic year. For so many kids and families who have been involved with youth sports, it also means a near end to the daily running to get to practices and games after school and in between homework assignments. My son is one of those kids who has loved his time with soccer, basketball and baseball this year and we have been so lucky to have had some great experiences.
I remember the first time we signed him up for some sort of organized sports. It was a YMCA baseball clinic and we tracked it down because he was too young to play T-ball and was driving us crazy with wanting to play anyway. As new parents, we had no clue what was ahead for us when it came to youth sports but I clearly remember my first revelation.
WAIT. I bring him to this and SOME OTHER ADULT works with him and teaches him about this game?
It quickly became the most peaceful 45 minutes of my week. The kid was absolutely captivated by a new sport, but SOME OTHER ADULT that was not his teacher or a family member was making sure he was ok? I just cheer him on from the sidelines for the big moments and take pictures? Amazing.
Little did I know what was ahead for us over the next few years. That SOME OTHER ADULT is no longer wrangler of my 5-year-old and is now most vividly role model, challenger, disciplinarian, motivator, teacher, supporter and so much more for this 11-year-old tween. Things are so different. It’s gone from “isn’t that cute” to “yikes I hope he doesn’t strike out.” The kid that used to be part of the “amoeba” chasing baseballs in left field with six other 5-year-olds is now solo on the pitcher’s mound with just a couple of voices there to help him through a tough game situation.
Those voices are his coaches’ voices. I know his dad’s voice and my voice are still there, but they are muted. They are coming from his conscience, his heart, from the left field fence (I still like to cheer) or his many years of important post-game conversations with us at home. The coaches’ voices are the ones that are there when he gets off the field and hangs his head because he walked too many batters or is angry with himself for striking out. They are there right when there are some important, defining moments. Those moments have so much potential to shape who he is as a person, not just an athlete.
Good coaches know how to make these moments count. They don’t “fix” them, but they make them count. Making them count sometimes means they can move on after one or two encouraging words, but sometimes the moments are bigger than that.
Today my kid is learning to cope with too many walks, but later it’s going to be learning to cope with so many other things. I can’t shake the feeling that we’ll be looking back on these years someday and wanting to track down these men and women to appreciate what they have done to help our kids grow up to be good human beings.
So, before it’s too late…
Take some time to thank your coaches this year, both for their time and especially for the impact they have on kids. Coaching is more than just teaching your kids a sport and we may not truly understand their impact until later. Thank them for the role they have played in building these emerging adults and teaching skills for life.
How cool would it be if we could build some collective momentum online with a #thankscoach hashtag?
Jim, Ed, Kristine, Mike, Steve, Jim, Mike, Dave, Jake, Jamie, Laurie, Shawn, Derek, Shaun, Kendra, Dave, Brett, Darryl….yikes there have been so many….
Do you have a great coach in your life? Share a thank you and be sure to use the #thankscoach hashtag!