Coaches and Parents CAN Get Along!

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Anxiously awaiting his son/daughter to get into the car after practice, the dad asks:

"So how did practice go? Did you make any plays? What did the coach say? Are you starting this week? How do you think you will do? How's the team coming together? How are you feeling? Any aches or pains? WE going to win this weekend?

Notice the last question, "WE going to win this weekend?" Innocently, it might just be an expression of "I support you", but in the question I think there often is more. This seemingly harmless question still begets the question of ,"Why is it that so many parents include themselves in the sports of their children so completely?"

I know I do.

 
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Father and daughter practicing our championship smile!

My first born, Raegan, was going to be a great athlete…..I was convinced of that! Weighing almost 10 lbs. at birth and predicted by the doctor to grow to 6 feet, I was anticipating HUGE things! We practiced every day, shooting basketballs, hitting wiffle balls and tennis balls, doing push-ups and watching football together….. all before she turned two!

 
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Father and daughter on the beach of Lake Michigan, practicing our championship smile, ALWAYS!

Raegan is 19 years old now and although she loves to exercise and workout, the sports career that I dreamed up for her never materialized. Her bad knees, academic genius, incredible musical/acting ability and a lack of desire to spend four hours a day training in sports ( I couldn't believe she didn't want to practice this much!) made her sports career bigger in my dreams than in our real world reality. God had a different plan for my daughter, different than my plan for her. After years of struggle I can finally say that I'm ok with that……..after all I have two other children! Ha!

 
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Daughter, Raegan, playing wiffleball with the guys in one of her dance outfits.

But don't let me mislead you to think that I wasn't a difficult sports parent, because I was. The swim coach for the 7-8 year olds didn't spend enough time with my daughter, teaching proper diving and encouraging her. I let her know about this AND complained about her behind her back, as well. The basketball coach for 10-11 year olds did a great job….but could have done better, helping my daughter rebound. I let him know about this AND complained about him behind his back, as well. The volleyball coach for 8th grade volleyball hardly played my daughter in games despite her being 5'10. I let her know about this AND complained about her behind her back, as well. I admit it, I was a jerk a lot of the time. Forgive me, but that was MY daughter and she deserved the best. If I was unreasonable, it went with the territory. Period.

 
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Father and daughter getting psyched for the "game"!

I LOVED playing sports back in grade school, high school and college and nothing has changed... I STILL LOVE to play and watch sports! I admit that having my children play sports and excel is as much about me as it is about them! What can I say? Sports did incredible things for me, things I can't even begin to put into words, they were and still are my LIFE. For my children and I, now to be able to share THIS, to participate in THIS together, what can be better? So I push them. I might be just the parent, but for all intents I am a parent-coach, loving them by giving playing advice, getting them up early and driving them to practice and games, being there and parenting the only way I know how, full speed.

 

One of the biggest complaints from coaches about coaching are the parents. As a coach, I understand their frustration. But as a parent, I also understand the parent's frustration. However, in this jockeying in who's right, too many times it's the kids who are caught in the middle and frustrated the most. It is high time for coaches and parents, alike, to realize that WE are on the SAME TEAM and for all of us to start acting like it. We, as coaches, have to start including our parents more. They deserve it! Whether it's Father-son/daughter jersey ceremonies, Letters to Mom ceremonies, weekly team/athlete email updates, team dinners that include the parents, or parent access to talk 1 on 1 with coaches periodically, parents can and SHOULD be included into the program. But it's not just the coaches who have to give more; us parents have to start acting like better team members, too. Just because our son/daughter plays on a team DOES NOT give us the right to abuse the coaches and the team, publicly or privately. What is more, my child is not the only player on the team; this season isn't about me using the team to get my precious son/daughter a scholarship at the team's expense.

 

SportsLeader urges all of us to become better leaders, coaches, athletes and parents alike! What we are missing in today's sports culture is not more wins, championships and scholarships, but instead functional teams that actually work together and make attempts to love and sacrifice for the greater good. And that begins with the adults……including me.

Chris Willertz 
More Than A Coach: SportsLeader!