Tagged with "pep talk"
8 Feb
Posted in: parenting
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A Letter to Coaches

I’ve known a lot of coaches through the years. There are the coaches from my youth. There are the high school and college coaches I interacted with as a sports reporter before I became a mom. There are the volunteer coaches that have worked with my own children, and the paid coaches who have instructed our oldest boys in middle school and high school. I’ve known some wonderful coaches who are not only good at their job but good people. I’ve also known coaches who are good at coaching but not good people. There are a couple coaches from the past who are not good people and not good coaches. Thankfully those coaches are few and far between.

Watching coaches through mom eyes is much different than how I saw them as a 20-something reporter. I want my children to be successful in their athletic endeavors, but more importantly, I want them surrounded by adults who are not only in the coaching business because they love the sport but because they want to play a role in raising up the next generation.

coach watching a football game

Our oldest son is nearing the end of his second athletic season of his high school freshman year. He has a coach who coached his freshman football team and his junior varsity wrestling squad. B has seen that coach more in the last seven months than B has seen his siblings. That coach has been there for at least two hours five-nights a week since August. His role and impact on B’s freshman year is huge. Thankfully all feedback from B on the coaching front through his freshman year, which has included over 15 coaches, has been positive, albeit sprinkled with the occasional emotional response in the heat of battle. Coaches are just passionate humans. Lackluster coaches have that passion for the win alone. Great coaches harbor that passion for the game as well as the individual athletes.

A few weeks ago, we hit the middle of wrestling season and a mental brick wall with B. Wrestling is intense. I’ve never been around a sport that requires the mental resiliency of a wrestler. B was frustrated. The wins weren’t stacking up as fast as he’d like. He was questioning his decision to switch to wrestling. He was sure he was disappointing his family, his coaches and the upperclassmen who had persuaded him to wrestle.

I tried every pep talk in my arsenal. Pep talks, especially centering on sports, are my thing. I have a cheesy quote, anecdote or story for almost every situation. Every thing I tried fell on deaf ears with B. He wasn’t going to be picked up or motivated. I did something I don’t do and ratted him out to the coaches who had no idea he was feeling anything but confident. One talk with a coach, and B was back on track.

coach talking with wrestler

B has been able to see improvements in his wrestling, even when it’s not a win. I’m sure most of what was said between coach and athlete is very similar to what came from his mother, but the influence of a coach is much different from a parent. Your mom is supposed to have confidence in you. B expects that from me. His coach having confidence in his abilities carries power. A well-placed, “I’m proud of you,” from a much-loved coach can ease doubts in a way a parent cannot.

I could insert the name of several coaches into this letter. We’re blessed to have a good village of adults joining us in raising our children from the sideline.

Dear Coach,

I see you correcting, encouraging and teaching our son. I know the hours you put in to bettering him and his teammates.  I’ve noticed his athletic improvements. I know he’s stronger and more confident in what he’s physically capable of doing. I know you want him to represent the team well, but I know the type of person he’s becoming is also your concern.

You’ve filled an important role better than I could have ever hoped. Children need adults, outside of their parents, guiding and cheering them on, but most importantly, showing them they matter. Here you are doing all those things and maybe not seeing the impact your dedication and passion for a sport has on multiple lives. I know he respects you from how he talks about you. I know you respect him from what he says about how you speak to him.

I can never thank your family enough for giving you to your athletes. All those hours you spend with our son and his teammates are evenings and weekends you’re not with your own family. That sacrifice of time, even if a pay check is included, is a gift. I wish you could hear how he talks about his coaches, his teammates and his experience. On those days when you don’t know why you keep coaching, his words would help reignite your passion. It’s more than sports. It’s more than winning and losing. It’s more than bigger, faster, stronger. It’s about leaning in to each other. It’s about dedication. It’s about perseverance. It’s about doing hard things. It’s about enjoying the high points and wading through the low. Thank you for your time, talents and efforts. Your work does not go unnoticed.