Helping Parents Coach, Coaches Coach and Players Play
Monday morning, off to work with the power still out after the storm. Got to work and found a mess waiting for me after the 3 day softball weekend. Spent hours dealing with fires and nonsense. I usually bring a lunch, but today I needed to get out of that place. I walked into the restaurant and saw a friendly face with a smile. In an instance I forgot about everything that was troubling me.
I approached the young lady with a smile now on my face and gave her a big hug. She was waiting tables and seated me. I haven't seen her in awhile, but she was exactly as I remembered. She always had a smile on her face with a twinkle in her eyes, the kind that would light up any room she walked into. I coached this young lady in the youth league for a few years. I watched her grow up and play softball all through school.
Some of us knew that she had a difficult home life.
Well it's official. I will be coaching fastpitch travel softball again: The 2015 16u Mid-Michigan Firestix. I am really excited to continue my softball journey working with an old friend, Kevin Babcock, who I played baseball with from little league to varsity to the adult league after graduating high school. Kevin took over the club years ago and has turned it into a respectable and successful organization.
My daughter Hayley recognized this last fall and decided to play with the 18u team this summer. As I wrote after our first tournament, "They're all a lot of fun and there's no drama. I'm going to play with them next summer," she said. She didn't say anything about what kind of team they were or if she thought they'd win tournaments." This summer has been a lot of fun with great girls, coaches and parents. I've spent the weekends as a parent watching his daughter having fun playing the game she loves. How awesome is that?
Coaching is not a egotistical venture for me.
Coaches often ask their captains to lead their teams by example whether it be by making plays, getting hits or cheering on their teammates. Coaches can and should lead by example too, especially when it comes to academics and vocations. They can discuss their education, career and experiences with their team.
At one of our workouts group of players learned that in addition to my day job, I have a side business and build web sites. "That's cool," one of the girls said. Another asked, "You really have your own business?" They asked me a bunch of questions from what college I attended to how I learned to make web sites. I briefly explained that although I have an associate's degree, everything I know about computers, technology and web sites I've learned on my own. "I'm self-taught," I said.
Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn. Benjamin Franklin
Many years ago I watched parents of an elite travel soccer team that had won every tournament they participated in as well as the state championship bitch and complain to the coach for taking the starters (their children) out of games that were well on their way to being one-sided victories in order to get the "bench players" some playing time.
It sickened and disappointed me as much then as a parent as it does today as a coach. The degree of selfishness and disregard for others that some people demonstrate is absolutely astonishing, especially considering the fact that we're talking about team sports.
Instead they angrily confront the coaches privately, while publicly maintaining a facade of support for the team.
It's the bottom of the 7th inning with two outs and runners in scoring position and a base hit will win the game. A player steps up to the plate who is 0-3 on the day. There's a lot of loud cheering. Her mom yells, "C'mon baby. You can do it!" A teammate shouts, "You're due kid!" While looking at the player clapping his hands the 3rd base coach says, "Get this done like you can!" One of the many softball experts behind the back-stop blurts out, "Don't dip. Drive the ball!"
And all of that happens before the girl has even gotten into the batter's box for the first pitch. Ask yourself this: What do you suppose she's thinking about as she steps up to the plate?
Now that she's in college I've realized how much I miss the countless hours we spent driving to and from softball.