Coaches play a vital role in lives of young athletes [the-dispatch.com]
Chad Killebrew from the-dispatch.com pens a magnificent reflection about his son and a soccer coach who played an influential role in his son’s life. The story is below, but sometimes, as volunteer soccer coaches, we remain in anonymous and thankless roles. We’re the ones who “make the sport go” and yet there is little appreciation for the efforts. I know that at times, in my own coaching career, I’ve felt like a taken-advantage-of-glorified-babysitter as I sat at fields with players long after practice was complete waiting for a parent to pick them up. And, I’m one of those people Chad refers to who doesn’t have kids in the program and chose to “give back” to make a difference.
This story is a great reminder of the impact we have as soccer coach – on players and young people. We may not have opportunities to realize this impact in person – but rest assured that you made an impact. It is simple moments of appreciation – those players who see you years later and pass the “cross the street test” – who you know you reached and impacted as a player…and a person.
Enjoy the article – it’s a good one!
Does anyone have stories of players and families who showed gratitude for the efforts you made and the vital role you played?
Here’s the original story:
My younger son was feverishly working on writing a paper when I arrived home from work one day this week. I inquired about the assignment.
The teacher asked the class to write about someone who played an influential role in their lives, he replied. I immediately thought “I bet he’s writing about me.” I prepared to give him a big hug and shed tears of joy.
“I’m writing about Joe,” he said, a reference to a soccer coach from two years ago.
After I overcame the blow to my ego, I quickly appreciated how my son would pick Joe as the subject of his paper. My son’s now in his third year of playing club soccer in Winston-Salem, and he’s had four different coaches. My older son, by contrast, has only had two coaches in his five years with the club, including the same one for the past four years.
While all the coaches have been very competent, Joe certainly made the biggest impact on my son. He still often quotes things Joe told the team. He uses skills he learned from Joe during games.
I thought my son did an outstanding job on the paper. He recalled many details about Joe, both his appearance, mannerisms and stories he told. Joe only coached the team for a little less than one year before moving to Charlotte to attend law school. I scanned the paper and emailed a copy to him, as it’s the type of tribute that means a lot to people.
Coaches play such an important role in the life of young people. Some, like those in high school or club soccer, are paid for their efforts. But many others volunteer out of a love for a sport and a willingness to pass on knowledge to impressionable youngsters. My sons have been fortunate that most of the coaches they’ve had showed competence in their efforts.
Youth coaches often determine whether a youngster will stick with a sport. If a coach makes practice fun and teaches skills that a child sees helping them to improve, then the chances are great the youngster will remain in the sport and perhaps move to more advanced levels. But a poor coach at a young age can cause a child to give up a sport, one in which he or she might have excelled in the proper environment.
Good coaches come in many different forms. Some are strict and put up with no foolishness. Others goof off with the team and emphasize fun. Some are loud, others quiet. The best ones strike the proper balance between teaching, fun and winning. That often is very difficult, too, especially keeping winning in its proper context.
I coached both my sons in basketball and soccer when they were younger. I enjoyed my time coaching, and I especially liked practices, where a coach’s primary role is teaching. Games were more challenging, as my competitive instincts sometimes got the better of me. Certainly I recall specific situations that I would handle differently, and I was definitely too hard on my own children at times.
The coaches who especially deserve praise are those who continue to coach even when they no longer have children playing. They receive no money for doing this, but they simply love the sport and want to share that with children. Perhaps some day once my children are in college I’ll return to the sidelines (although my days of demonstrating certain skills might be passed by then).
Words similar to the way my son ended his paper could be printed on appreciation plaques that outstanding coaches receive at the end of a season from grateful parents and players:
“Joe was the greatest coach I’ve ever had, and it’s hard to express in a paper how much he impacted me at the age of 11, as a soccer player and, more importantly, as a person.”