CoachingFamilyYouth Sports

Thanks Coach! You’re #Epic

I love the cyclical change of seasons.

I’m not just referring to how the hot, dry summer is giving way to the crisp, cool autumn on my little corner of the planet.

What gets me even more revved up at this time of year is the change from the relatively slow and serene days of the youth sports free summer season, to the frenetic pace of adding hockey, football, dance, and trampoline back into our lives over the next 10 months.

My kids, like so many others, will shortly be donning skates, cleats, and ballet shoes for the first time this season. You can just sense their nervous excitement as they talk about this year’s dance classes, who they hope to have on their team, and who their coaches will be.

As a parent, it’s important to me who my kids’ coaches are too.

Next to parents and teachers, my kids’ coaches spend the most time with them and have a profound opportunity to influence the way they seem themselves as #epic little people.

My kids have been blessed so far to have has some truly great coaches in their lives. As they grow and their journey through minor, amateur, and school sports continues I sincerely hope that their good fortune holds.

As we prepare for a sports season full of highs, lows, laughter, tears and lots of learning I wanted to take a moment to send some thanks out to the men and women who volunteer to guide my kids through some important lessons about self and life.

Thanks for the gift of your time

Coaching any level of youth sports, from U8 to High School aged athletes requires a significant investment of time and energy. It’s not just the on-field stuff that takes up time.  Even before your kid’s coach steps onto the ice, field, or gym floor with your child they’ve had to:

  • take a number of sports specific courses;
  • become certified in making ethical decisions;
  • attended meetings by the local sports association;
  • begun to plan for a fun and meaningful season for your and the other kids on the team.

Many of my kids’ coaches are also very busy people professionally and personally. I am grateful that you have decided to spend some of your valuable time with my kids.

Thanks for the way you develop and see each kid

I love this quote by Tom Bates, head of performance psychology and culture for the Aston Villa Football Club in England about what players really need from their coaches: “every player has four words written on their forehead – make me feel loved”.

It’s true that sensational and horrific stories hit the news from time to time about coaches behaving criminally and inappropriately with the young people in their care.  Because of this, both coaches and parents can be hypersensitive to the suggestion that a coach should love their players as people first and foremost.

The age old adage that “no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care” holds profound truth for anyone who works to help build and grow tiny humans .

Thanks in advance Coach, for taking the time to get to know my son and daughter. Their quirks, talents, skills and unique personalities really shine when you truly see them for who they are and look for ways that they can contribute to their team.  Thanks as well for asking me about them because you noticed that they really like this, seem talented in this way, or were noticing that things seem off. This makes me know, in my heart, that you know and care about my kids.

Thanks for your courage

Coaching can be a daunting and sometimes frightening task. You are ultimately responsible for the development, safety, behavior, sportsmanship, etc. of a herd of little humans and their equally unpredictable parents.

We know you worry about injuries, and do everything in your power to keep our kids safe. We know you worry about those after game phone calls from parents. Some of those calls border on the absurd, we get that.

We know that you lie awake at night after making team selections, or cuts, because it doesn’t feel good in your guts to disappoint kids.

We know it can be really hard to offer honest and direct feedback to players (and their parents) around why they aren’t a “starter” or on the “top line”. Thank you for your honesty and the way that you challenge my kids to get better.

We know that there are times during the season where the adults can make it uncomfortable to do and say what is best for the kids. We have your back Coach and commit to keeping ourselves and each other in check.

Thanks for your love of the game

We love watching you “geek out” over the game with our kids.

The stories you tell them about the greats of the sport, the tiny details you share with them about how to do their best, the moral and ethical standard you hold for yourself and our kids as ambassadors of the game, themselves, and their communities all speak volumes about your love for what you coach and who you coach it to.

This love comes through in the drills you organize, the chants you encourage on the bench, and the way you set up the locker room so that our kids feel like their in the “bigs”.

Thanks for laughing with and encouraging our kids while you do all of this.  As parents we may not love the sport to the same degree as you do.

Do you know what? You rub off on us too Coach, and your passion and the love for the game that grows in our kids often drags us into the deep end of the fan boy and fan girl pool too.

Thanks for that.

Thanks for how you connect our community

Community is an essential part of what makes us human. It always has been and always will be. Your dedication to the development of our community through the development of our kids is an example that long outlives our kids’ participation in sports.

Coach, we know that community development isn’t always front and center in your mind as you work with our kids to learn the rules and how to play their chosen sport.

As parents, we want you to know that we are thankful for the long-lasting friendships that develop between the kids on your team, and often their parents too.

You help grow these by the atmosphere and environment you set around the team.  These positive relationships carry over into our communities. They help ground us, connect us, and make us feel like part of a huge extended family. This has been one of the best side effects of the great coaches that my kids, and myself, have had a chance to be around.

You will always be ‘coach’

Decades from now, you’ll be walking somewhere with your loved ones and you will hear someone call out, “hi Coach!”.

You may have to really scan through your memory banks because the huge “man mountain” or beautiful young lady in front of you only vaguely resembles that tiny awkward kid you coached so long ago.

Please know that your impact runs deep. You have the ability to influence my kids to see themselves as powerful, capable, and able to work hard and grow as people. They’ve never forgotten the time that you hugged my son after a tough loss by the team or believed in my daughter and put her on the court to protect the lead in a close game.

They didn’t always appreciate in the moment your challenges to do more and be more, because it meant work, sweat, and sometimes even pain.  You were the first one to get to them if they got hurt and the usually last one to say some kind and important words of encouragement as they left the arena.

You’ve made and will make marks on my kids’ hearts and minds this year Coach.

Thanks in advance for everything.  I look forward to supporting you, my kids, their teams, and each other as we launch into another round of the most exciting and #epic of “seasons”.

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Greg Esteves

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