I know what some of you are thinking: This guy is living his life vicariously through his children.
I’ve heard that expression all too often — mostly from people who don’t have kids.
My response to them? What am I supposed to do, NOT get involved with my family?
The most obvious reason why parents should coach is simple: Without fathers (or mothers) doing the organizing and coaching, who would? In every league I have been involved in in the Woodbridge-Colonia area, fathers have run the leagues and coached in them.
If they didn’t, there’d be no teams.
And no leagues.
That goes for mothers, too. My wife Donna has sold maybe thousands of boxes of candy and hundreds of tee-shirts and jackets for fund raising. If she didn’t, who would? And if no one did, how would the leagues survive?
And if the leagues didn’t exist the way they do nowadays ... well, I shudder to think what no organized leagues would do to our children.
Take my kids, for example. When I used to get home from school, I’d grab a bite to eat and head out to the schoolyard two doors away and meet the same 9-10 guys every day. We’d play football, stickball or full-court basketball — whatever was in season — literally for hours.
Now? Kids would get home and head right to the video games or SpongeBob SquarePants. For whatever reason, the days of meeting a group of kids at a nearby playground or park are over.
Something has to get the kids out of the house and that is organized sports.
I have been blessed with two kids who want to be out on the field. I seldom have to drag them out of the house to play.
But I truly wonder what would happen without the organized leagues.
The time we share is awesome. I have shared advice, instructions and knowledge from the days when I played. We have shared wins and losses, good games and bad. We have laughed and cried together. Games or practices have become the highlights of my week. Watching a kid develop — whether it is one of mine or not — has become an absolute delight.
It is also neat to see kids’ friendships develop over time. When my oldest son Joseph first went out for tee-ball, he didn’t know a soul. None of his teammates knew each other. But after a week or two, they were cheering each other on, helping each other, and becoming friends. Same thing with my second son, Mike.
Sports at the youth level is a beautiful thing — and coaching makes it possible to be right there in the mix with your kids.
I know there are kooky coaches out there who berate kids, umpires and/or parents on the youth sports level. And I have had my run-ins with whacko parents, but the crazies are few and far between. And when things run smoothly (as is most often the case, by far), life can’t get any better.
Believe me when I tell you, coaching youth sports is a pleasure.
I believe in coaching firmly but with kindness and respect. And I never,
ever put my kids first at the expense of others. Deep down, I’d be lying to you if I said I pulled for others as much as my kids. Any coach would be lying if they told you otherwise.
My goal when the season is over is this: If someone completely unfamiliar with my team sat in the bleachers for the entire season, he shouldn’t be able to tell who my two sons are.
Coaching youth sports is not all about wins and losses. When you get to a certain age — maybe 9 or 10 years old — winning does become more important.
Anyone who tells you otherwise either doesn’t have kids or just doesn’t get it. Kids at the age of 5 or 6 don’t know the score and could hardly keep count themselves. They like to wear the uniform and are in it for the fun of the game. A few years later, they are keeping score and they want to win.
But winning games isn’t the only thing a youth coach is responsible for. If a kid slams his helmet and the coach doesn’t discipline that sort of behavior, he is not doing his job as a coach. If a kid taunts or hot-dogs it and the coach doesn’t step in, the coach isn’t doing his job. If a coach doesn’t teach in the attitude area, he is missing the mark.
It is his job to instruct his players in all areas. Kids want to be coached.
Kids need to be coached.
And if the father is the one doing the coaching, hats off to him!
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