Coaches: Under-rated Community Builders

I attended my first swim meet with Amy this week and it is always nice to sit in the stands and observe as a spectator/parent rather than a coach. It was an awesome experience (other than I know nothing about swimming) and Amy had a blast. As the evening progressed and the buzz Amy had from her big day started to proceed into fatigue, I started to reflect on ‘why’ it was such a great day. Coaches have an enormous impact in the short and long term for the development of our kids and youth and yet I think they are seriously under-rated for the following reasons:

Coaches add organization to our lives

We cart our kids around all over the province playing a multitude of sports and often with one parent in one direction and the other parent in a different direction. We agonize. Did you pack the skates? Have we even paid for their registration? Which field is the game at? Why didn’t the coach send out an email? etc. etc. When the event is over we go for ice cream, applaud the goal/hit/volley/pass/tackle then fall into bed and start it over the next morning sometimes before the rooster has even thought about getting up. Coaches and team managers have to manage their own kids’ schedules at times plus take care of ensuring we get to where we need to go on time. If you are late or show up at the wrong field, cut them some slack because they probably sent you a few emails that are buried in your inbox.

Coaches are committed

How does all this glory, excitement and tension all come together for our kids and future athletes/leaders? Well, there are many volunteers that make this happen but it is the minor/youth sport coach that brings this all together and at a grossly understated value to our community. On a typical soccer team (for example) there are 14-20 players meaning 14-20 possible sets of parents to take on the challenge of organizing, planning, handling calls, delivering tough news to players, and keeping our kids not only safe from harm but also engaged and wanting to go back the next week, month or season. Of those 14-20, one or two step up and often without the technical skill or confidence (at first). But they step up, get the training and the rest is history. There is so much work that takes place away from the field when the game or practice is not happening that parents don’t see. It is a true commitment and it is not for the any other reason than to see kids have fun and develop as athletes and teammates.

Coaches contribute to our kids’ development

My kids love sports and they love being with other players. For the most part, they don’t care if they won (as long as they are competitive). They don’t love the sport  because of a state of the art facility, new gear or ice cream afterwards (though that helps). They love the sport because of the way they feel about themselves, learning a new skill and being part of a positive social group. My kids talk about plays on the field, how other kids felt during the game or practice and they talk about how they interact as a team. My kids have come home and went to bed with a smile on their face about the smallest of compliments a coach gave them in practice or on the turf. This feedback has long-lasting effects and contributes to the way kids feel about themselves and therefor interact with other people as they grow up.

Thank you coaches– parents and players appreciate everything you do. Our communities are better because of you. Next time you are reluctant to return and it just doesn’t feel worth it, please remember you are appreciated and you provide an invaluable service.

Cheers to all coaches. Play on.

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