As we are approaching the holidays break, I wanted to take the opportunity to extend thanks to all the great coaches and teachers out there that commit 100’s, if not thousands of volunteer hours so that kids can have the opportunity to play their respective sports they love.
Having been a youth sports athlete myself in many sports, I know the benefits we all reap as a result of those volunteers.
Not only learning the skills of the game but learning valuable life skills like;
Resiliency/Never Give Up
One of the top lessons I learned from several coaches was how important it was to win with humility and lose with dignity. They would say to our team, not matter what the outcome of the game, when you left the field people should not know whether you won or lost.
Nothing frustrates me more than poor losers or those that think nothing of excessively celebrating, particularly when there teams are way up on other teams.
What many forget to share when they talk about life skills is how many hats coaches do wear
Father or Mother figure
First Aid Attendant
Most importantly – the role of a teacher
Looking back at all the sports I played and all the great coaches I had, many truly cared about me as a person and not only helped me become a better athlete, but also a better person.
The coaches that I remember most were ones that really guided me to turn the corner when I was in high school, I went thru several years while in junior then senior high school bitter that my father passed away when I was really young and had it not been for those coaches that kept me on track who knows where I would be today.
In grade 8-9 I got involved with a very bad group of kids who were destined for the dark side, doing drugs, petty crimes like B&E’s, Vandalism, shoplifting and so forth and fortunately many of my coaches steered me beyond that.
Probably the biggest influencer aside from my coaches was my Grade 12 Honours French Teacher, in addition to playing numerous sports, being raised by a single parent I also worked on average 24 hours a week plus would attend numbers social events with my teams on weekends.
I will never forget one Monday morning where our first block was French and I stumbled into glass exhausted from a full weekend of work, practices, game and partying until the wee hours and a couple of minutes in she shared that we were going to have a suprise quiz.
I said loudly with an explitive … THAT, I am not doing a quiz.
To which she said “Mr. Mulcahy, outside NOW”
I got up and headed in the hallway and she followed and slammed the door behind her and immediately ripped into me telling me that I had so much potential, that I was wasting my opportunity and if focused more on school it would take me much farther than sports and a part time job would.
This was only a year after I had my head coach do the same, telling me that family came first, school second and sports third as he had gotten wind that some of us on the football team were just “getting by” in our classes and he knew that all of us were top students that had been accepted into honours programs.
Both my coach and my teacher made me realize that I did have to focus on schooling more so that I could pursue post secondary education.
Thanks to a coach and a teacher that truly cared about me, I did go on to college, played collegiate Rugby then completed a university degree and a college diploma. I worked for one of the largest retailers in the world, started several businesses, have been happily married for over 20 years and also have two children of my own.
How does this relate to sports?
If I had not had great coaches when I grew up that cared, supported and encouraged me especially when times got tough for me I never would have really listened to the teacher that did the same.
In today’s sport culture we here so much about the abusive tactics that coaches are using, screaming at players, in lieu of being demanding for excellence and aspiring their athletes to become the best they can be, the critique every single mistake in ways that is demeaning. Almost every day social media posts videos of those “Bad” Coaches, and although we still have a lot of work to do to weed them from youth sports, there are so many good coaches at teachers out there and it is important we remind our kids to say thanks for everything they do, but I also encourage parents to do the same.
As we head into the holidays to spend time with family, friends and teams head to tournaments, I know that many coaches feel that they are getting a bad rap due to “the vocal minorty of coaches” that has been identified as one of the top reasons why 70% of kids are quitting by the age of 13. The reality is only “some” of the coaches just like “some” of the parents are doing so, the vast majority of coaches are committed volunteers are giving back to help kids and instil the same love of the game that they have.
I also know as a coach of 20+ years how thankless the role can be, you may get a coffee gift card with a mug, perhaps a card, perhaps a Keg gift certificate if team funds permit. The most memorable end of season gift I received was a photo album with every player in it and the values that we talked about that season, something that I will always cherish.
The biggest thanks you can ever receive though is when a player on your team not only comes to you with his hand extended to shake yours and says thanks coach each practice or game but also if they come back the following season.
That is all the thanks I look for, to have my players come back year after year with a big smile on their face so they can continue to develop their athletic skills but I can help them learn the very same life skills and lessons that my coaches and teachers taught me.
So as we go into the New Year, although youth sports still has a myriad of issues that have come to light the last couple of decades will take many years for us to reverse, in lieu of focusing on the doom and gloom think of all the positives that have come out of your coaching experience to date.
The great kids that you have had the opportunity to coach or teach, their great parents and the numerous other volunteers that make it possible for kids to play a game they love.
Here is a great example of the impact that coaches and teachers can have, get out your box of Kleenex for this one.
THANKS COACH !
Let’s continue to work together to bring the game back to the kids … where it belongs