Sports Love & family

Learning Life's Lessons through Sports


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Knowing Your Role: The Coach

“A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”

The coach of the team is the leader, the CEO of the organization so to speak. You alone have the ability to make or break a child’s spirit (that’s a lot of power). Parents have entrusted you to teach and guide their children in sport. As parents we feel you are our child’s guardian while in your presence. To be the voice of reason, the disciplinarian, the authority figure and to teach and manage the game.

As a coach your role is to lead your players. This doesn’t mean you need to win every game. This means guide them and teach them the fundamentals of the game and what it means to be on a team. You must support each player (unconditionally). You must recognize each of them has a role and each of them is important to the entire team. Each player should leave a practice or game knowing more than when they came and wanting to come back. If you’re breaking spirits and squashing their love of the game, you’re not doing your job. There’s no need to coddle, and there’s no need to berate. There’s a balance for each individual that will help them develop. Encourage as much as you can.

Set realistic goals for the individuals and the team. Help them reach those goals. Be there when things are good and more importantly when things aren’t. Know your players. Know their strengths and their weaknesses. Know things about them, other than their talent level. Put them in situations where they can succeed and allow them opportunities to grow. Help them build upon their strengths and improve their weaknesses; that way they’re always moving in a positive direction.

Do you have what it takes to positively affect a child’s life?

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Knowing Your Role

Introducing the first in this four-part series about ‘Knowing Your Role’. To us this means knowing what you bring to your team and realizing that each role on the team is important. Join us as we discuss what roles we have, and then as we dive into the various roles on a team (Coach, Player and Parent).

Part I: Knowing Your Role
As adults we have careers, and within that career we have specific assignments or expectations of us. One thing that prepared us for this was playing sports growing up. It’s important to know your role on a team. We know that not everyone can be the coach, or the captain or the number one pitcher. We each have a specific role and each role is important (please remember to tell this to your children constantly).

As parents, we need to educate our children on this. Our kids learn this lesson in school daily, some may realize it and others probably don’t. This is another reason why sports play such a pivotal role in the development of a child. This is how I think we can control the sense of “entitlement-age” we’re living in.

We explain to our children that your team is like working for a company. You have the boss, which is your coach. You have other supervisors, which are the assistant coaches. You have the worker-bees, which are the players. Within that set you all have specialties, or in a company they might be departments. Everyone has a job description, everyone has a position they play. We tell our kids they are only 1/9th (baseball/softball) or 1/5th (basketball) of their team; because you can only control YOUR ACTIONS. However, if someone needs help performing their duties, typically others pick up the slack, because we are ONE team.

The greater good of the company is defined by how well each person performs their role. The success of the team is defined the same way. But, success can only be achieved when the right people are put in the right roles to obtain the best outcome. You can’t put someone at first base whom can’t catch the ball, it’s setting them up to fail. If each of us understand our role and accept it and know that our role is important to the greater good, success should follow.

The difficult part is not knowing your role, it’s understanding it’s importance to the team. When kids are little they hate playing outfield because at a young age they don’t receive much action. It’s our job to make sure they realize that there’s more to that role than catching a fly ball. On every pitch, every player should be moving and they should know where they’ll ultimately end up should that pitch be hit. At the youth level outfielders backing up infielders is critical on each play. I’ve seen many bases and runs given up because there wasn’t someone backing up a throw.

Explaining early on to our children that not everyone can be a pitcher or a point guard, will help them understand the importance of each role on a TEAM. Not everyone is going to be able to, nor want to be the CEO of a company, or the Vice President of a department. As long as we’re teaching our kids to be team players and that their own success can contribute to the greater good of the team or organization.


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Let Them Make Memories, Give Them an Experience

Recently we went on our first out of state tournament with our oldest child. My husband is the coach and you could say I’m the Team Mom. Going out of state was Todd’s idea. He wanted to give the boys an experience. When we discussed it, he wasn’t even focusing on baseball, he was talking about the bonding that happens during those tournaments. We know you don’t have to go out of state to have that, but next year we go to Cooperstown and we thought it was a good idea to have at least one out of state tournament under our belt!

The funny thing about the weekend (well, not so funny at the time) was we didn’t play good baseball. But, I’m betting, if you ask everyone if they had a good time, they’d say yes. The reason is we made sure to plan time for the boys to hang out together. We’ve planned these trips for other sports and have realized this is the key to giving the kids an experience.

The tournament was being played on Saturday and Sunday. We gave the option for people wanting to go on Friday a chance to go to the Detroit Tigers game. Of the eleven kids on the team eight families came to the game! We had a blast and got to check another stadium off the list!

We played two games on Saturday and were done around 6:00. We arranged for everyone to meet at 7:30 at an entertainment venue. This place had go carts, laser tag, a bounce house, an arcade and more. The kids played everything and the adults hung out. When looking for a venue I wanted to be sure there was food, adult beverages and kid entertainment. All of that was met at Paradise Park! We hung out for a few hours and went back to the hotel to get some rest before Sunday’s game.

While we didn’t play the best ball, we can appreciate how well the tournament was run and the experience that was created for these boys. If you have the opportunity to take a weekend trip with your team, I highly recommend doing it. Even if it’s only a couple hours away from your home town. From the hotel shenanigans, to the planned activities, it’s a weekend your players will never forget!

And let’s remember, there’s always a life lesson: “I won’t remember the wins and losses. That’s great and all, but I think I’ll remember friendships and my teammates.”  – Melissa Nafzger


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It’s Prime Day!

Are you a sports parent always looking for great items that you need? Here’s your chance to get all the sport essentials you’ve been eyeing, it’s Prime Day! In addition to our Stuff We Love page we put together a list of all the items we think every sport parent needs for the summer!

Pull Cart – a savior for all that equipment!

Spray Bottle – for those hot, hot days! Either work, one is sold as a “sports mister”

Water Bottle – this one hangs on the fence!

Canopy – a must for summer!

Beach Umbrella – this was great for when we had little ones

Frog Togs – keep all the kids cool with these

Suckers – these became my go-to treat this summer, helps with nerves too!

Let us know the essentials you bring to all your sporting events in the comments below.


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Youth Sports, What’s The End Game?

Why do we shell out hundreds of dollars and spend countless hours on a field or in a gym? Are we thinking our children are going to play professional sports? Though many parents believe this and many children have this dream, the reality just isn’t so. Then, why do we do all that we do for no ROI (return on investment)? For our family, it’s for two reasons, the intangibles and the goal of playing in high school.

The Intangibles
What are those you ask? These are the things you can’t measure or quantify. It’s the bonds our children create, it’s the relationships the parents build. It’s the experiences of working with others, being part of a team. It’s the experiences of traveling with friends and family and/or spending time with so many people who have a common interest. It’s about relationships. Whether it’s a coach you love or one you don’t agree with; whether you’re playing with your best friends or you’re playing with kids you’ll never speak to again. It’s learning how to manage all that, so that when you’re an adult you’re ready for real life situations. Most importantly, it’s the valuable life’s lessons that are learned through a commitment to the team and competition.

The Goal
Every child that plays a sport at some point has the dream to play it professionally. Many of us realize this isn’t a reality. Lots of kids dream of playing their sport at “fill in the blank” University. While this dream is more attainable than the professional dream, the odds still are slim. As a family we talk about this often. We try not to squash our kids dreams, but we try to keep them in reality (they are only 11, 10 and 8). So, we tell them that our goal is for them to play their beloved sports in high school. Our kids are three-sport athletes and we know all too well that now-a-days even that can be an unrealistic goal. But, they’ll play as many sports as they can, for as long as they can.

This is why our family feels that sports are so important for the healthy development of our children. This is what I tell people when they ask us why we do it. What do you tell people? We’d love to hear why you have a crazy sports life like us!


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A Lesson in Compassion

We started this blog because our family loves sports, and we realized that there are life’s lessons we and our children are constantly learning via this sports life we created. Recently, our family and all the families involved in our baseball organization learned a valuable life lesson: Compassion for others.

Our baseball organization took a que from our local youth football organization and decided to do a Special Olympic-type baseball game, the HBA Challenger Baseball Game. The premise was to organize a baseball game with our 14U teams and Special Olympians from our community and have a wonderful time. It took months to plan and organize; the result: a phenomenal day for all involved. Here’s how the day went.

Each age group 8U through 13U were given players to cheer for. The team’s showed up 45 minutes before the main event to create posters and meet their players. This meet and greet was held in the “clubhouse” also known as our indoor hitting facility. The clubhouse was decked out with uniforms and gifts for each Challenger. After the meet and greet and posters were made, the kids headed to the bleachers to cheer on their player. It was amazing to see all our boys in their blue away jerseys and members of the community filling the stands. The stadium was packed!

After the National Anthem one of our 14U teams took the field, and the other team stayed as sponsors for each Challenger player. Our awesome MC for the day introduced and even interviewed each Challenger. As each player was announced our teams in the stands cheered their little hearts out! Each team really got in the spirit of cheering for their designated player. It was truly wonderful to see the joy that those cheers brought to the Challengers faces.

The game lasted a little over an hour and afterward a picture with all the baseball players was taken by the scoreboard. As each Challenger left the ballpark they were congratulated by the crowd. The pure joy they exuded was infectious for all in attendance.

Our family enjoys playing sports, we always have and always will. But, there is so much more than just being able to play. It’s like I said in my last post, “We need to teach our children that their actions (good or bad) have an affect on others. Not only for the sake of sports, but for humanity.” I’m so proud of all our boys. The compassion and enthusiasm they showed that day was a lesson for all of us!


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Coach, You Missed a Teachable Moment

Dear 8U Baseball Coach (opponent coach, not ours),

Do you feel like you’re teaching your boys the game of baseball? Do you think that running your kids around the bases when the ball was in the infield taught any of the kids on the field anything? How about tagging up on a pop-up to shortstop? Did it make you feel like the best coach out there to score an exorbitant amount of runs in three innings? Was it your best idea to tell your kid to leadoff when there is a no leadoff rule and then tell the umpire so we could end the inning? What are all these things teaching your players?

Your lack of baseball etiquette was evident that day. Your lack of ability to teach young players the proper technique was also evident. I’d love to be at a game in a few years to see if what you’ve taught your players still works. Did you think of the other children on the field? Clearly, you didn’t. Our boys handled it in stride, but it doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt.

I’m writing this to you because you angered me. And the next day my older son was in a game in virtually the same situation, except we were on the winning side. Our coach held our runners and didn’t make a fool of the other team. We were winning 11-0 when one of our players hit a two-run homerun (over the fence). Of course our players wanted to congratulate him at home plate, however our coach told them to stay in the dugout. The opposing coach told our coach he appreciated that.

So, you see, there is etiquette in all sports and we need to teach our children the proper way. We need to teach our children that their actions (good or bad) have an affect on others. Not only for the sake of sports but for humanity. Whether you are up by 15 or down by 1, as a coach you must always be able to recognize a situation and adjust accordingly; that’s coaching and that’s how life’s lessons are conveyed to players.