It was never about the playing time…It was simply about the time
Now that my daughters have grown and are off at college I find myself reflecting on their past experiences and missed growth opportunities.
My husband and I encouraged our daughters to participate (key word participate) in team sports so that they would gain friendships, confidence and a sense of community. Soccer turned out to be the one sport all three of them gravitated to, and having played the game myself in High school I was thrilled. However, times have changed and High school sports have become increasingly more competitive and cut-throat. High school coaches aspire to compete at higher divisions and bring home the state championship. Of course, that has always been the case, however, the stakes have been raised due to the rising costs of Higher Education. Many players participate in hopes of the gaining the attention of a college coach who may offer scholarship to their perspective University, and many coaches aspire to have one of their players recruited for increased job security. Some players, however, play for the love of the game, the friendships, the confidence and the sense of community. Their goals remain in alignment with what brought them to play the sport as a young child.
This disparity in intentions can be disadvantageous.
Dear Coach _______________,
I have waited to send this letter out of respect for your team rules and regulations handed out at the beginning of the season. Although I do not agree with rules that diminish communication, I understand and respect your reasoning. Our daughter is in your hands and you have been given great responsibility in coaching her. Your rules indicate that you have taken this responsibility seriously, and for that I am grateful. Parents were asked to respect these rules and to keep our “opinions” to ourselves. I can appreciate your candor, however, I believe that to be the best coach, teacher, manager, or parent, one must open themselves up to communication and conversation at appropriate times, and this is one of those times. Listening to others point of view can eliminate assumptions and judgements and create affirmative behaviors and team building.
It has never been about the playing time!
Not all players have the same intentions and goals. One thing remains undeniable, all parents want their children to gain confidence from their High school sports experience. That, I believe is the predominant responsibility of a coach, and one shared, with a parent. We must build our daughters up, encourage self-esteem and cultivate self-confidence. To coach a winning season is great, however, to instill winning values and determination is awesome and trophy worthy. Perspective is important, and cannot be gained without looking at all sides. It is easy to get lost in the emotion of an unruly practice or disappointing game against a rival team. However, if each experience is used as a life lesson where something is gained and then carried off the field into everyday life experiences…well, then that is amazing isn’t it? With these tools in their toolkit, our daughters will achieve great things. So rather than focusing on the 1 or 2 players that will possibly receive scholarships to play soccer in college, how about encouraging all players to be courageous, help them build character and practice sportsmanship. This will prepare each of them for the game of Life.
The precious time you spent with my daughter was fleeting yet a great opportunity for growth, and soon she will toss her cleats into a basket in the garage and leave for college. I hope that you will honor and respect this time and take responsibility for your influence on your players (our daughters). True leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence. What impact are you making? I ask myself this question every day, as the essential role as a parent.
This letter has floated in and out of my thoughts for some time now….My wish is that coaches become aware of their impact and influence on our children. We could all use a reminder now and again about the importance of communication, influence and consequence. The ultimate goal is a perfect record in self-esteem building!