Sports Love & family

Learning Life's Lessons through Sports


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Knowing Your Role: The Parent

“The sign of great parenting is not the child’s behavior. The sign of truly great parenting is the parent’s behavior.”

That quote says it all. We’ve come to the fourth and final role in our series. The role of parent is the most important, most influential of all. This post isn’t about how to be a good or great parent (I’m sure someone has written one). This is about parenting young athletes. It’s about our behavior and how it ultimately affects our children. In my years of coaching high school volleyball and my eight years being involved in youth sports, I’ve seen it all. I’m rarely surprised by parental behavior. Let’s remember what our role is for our athletes, the supporter.

The most important trait you should own as a parent is unconditional support. When times are good but mostly when times are bad. Be there. Guess what, you don’t even need to say anything. If you struggle with finding positives or constructive criticism, the best thing you can do for your child is just be there. A pat on the back, a squeeze of the side, a genuine look of ‘I love you’ is enough. Because news flash, you are enough for your child. Being there and watching is enough.

I think some parents try to show their love to their kid through yelling and being boisterous. When in fact, the opposite is most likely true. Don’t believe me, ask your kid. Really, ask them how they want you to behave at their games. They’ll let you know.

The next important thing as a parent is to let them play, develop and have fun. On the same note, let the coaches coach. Don’t impede the player or coach from doing their job. Remember, your job is to support. That means letting the coach do their job at games and practices, it doesn’t mean you coach from the stands. Coaching from the stands takes away natural instincts from players.

The best advice I can give to a parent of an athlete that has helped me maintain my calm at events, is to recite in my head “He/she is trying his/her best and they are having fun.” Remember, you are at a youth sports event, it is not life or death or the difference of getting a scholarship or not. I also like to think to myself, would I want my children to behave this way. If you don’t want your child to emulate your behavior, maybe you should change it…

 

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Knowing Your Role: The Player

“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. “ – Vince Lombardi

I was a player before I was a coach or a parent. But, it was a long time ago; today I’m a co-worker and those values I learned long ago, serve me today. Now as a parent, I must remember what that was like, so I can share those experiences with my kids. Last time we talked about what it means to be a coach, to guide your players, to teach them the sport. Well, as the player your most important task is to be a good learner. This means showing up ready to work. This means being present and ready to learn. It means trying your best 100% of the time.

Once you join a team, there is no more I or me. As a player your child’s responsibility is to themselves, their coach and their team. If they have leadership tendencies, encourage them to step up and be that person for their teammates. Be there to pick them up, be there to encourage them. Be a doer, but also a shower (that’s almost more important). Show them that you always hustle, show them that you always give 100%, show them that when you struggle you are able to move on from it. If your child is not comfortable being a leader, encourage them be a team player, because that’s important, and it’s important to know how you can best contribute to the team.

A team player is someone that shows up to do their job. At practice their job is to listen to instruction, be respectful to the coach and teammates and try their best. At a game their job is to do all of the above but most importantly support each and everyone on the team. Cheer on your teammates. Give high fives or fist bumps, a pat on the back or a “good job” or “you’ll get it next time”. As a player they need to learn the game and try their best, as a team player they need to be the biggest supporter of each of their teammates.

Let your children know they don’t need to be best friends with their teammates, in fact they don’t even need to be friends. When you walk on that playing surface you’re teammates, no matter what else is happening around you. And if you’re all friends and want to spend time together afterwards, that’s just icing on the cake. This is the time when they’ll create memories that last forever. Enjoy it, live in this moment, because it really does go so fast.

One thing you will take away from being a teammate, is learning how to work with all different kinds of people and it will serve you your entire life. Remind your child that their individual commitment to the team is what makes the team work, and later, the company and society work. And that means we’re learning life’s lessons through sports!


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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.


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The Coach Who Doesn’t Coach

It’s a difficult balance of being a parent to an athlete and being a coach to an athlete. The struggle is real as they say. Have you ever been in a situation where your child plays for a coach that doesn’t know anything about the sport they are coaching? Logic says “this person is nice and the kids are having fun.” That’s the part that has seen mean coaches. The parent|coach part says “the child is learning nothing, they aren’t getting better.”

So, if you’re faced with this, what are the options? Well, the child can play for a different team, a different organization all together. This situation is scary, we don’t know what we’ll get some where else. You know the saying “the grass isn’t always greener” comes to mind. The parent could step in and try to help the coach with their knowledge (totally depends on personality how this would be taken). The parent could ask to coach the team themselves the next season. For many, this isn’t an option because of other children and other commitments. The final option is to continue what you’re doing. Continue playing at this level and try to coach and get lessons in from other resources when you can.

The goal for any organization is to develop players, but the goal for us parents is to develop OUR player. If you don’t want to make a change, then you need to take matters into your hands. We always tell our kids that they are only one part of the team (1/5th of the basketball team or 1/9th of the baseball team). The only actions you can control are yours. While the development of the team as a whole is very important, we need to look out for the development our own child.

So, if you’re ever faced with this situation, my suggestion would be to focus on the development of your child. Whether it’s making a change with the team or just focusing your efforts on player development, you need to do what’s best for them.


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The Umpire Shoved Who!?

It took me all last week to try and write this blog. I didn’t know how to start or what angle to take. Then it hit me in the shower (like most of my posts do), questioning, why don’t people like to be questioned? Well, I know the answer to that, I guess the question is why can’t people now-a-days handle being questioned? Are we that insecure as a society that we can’t handle someone challenging us?

I’m questioned or challenged by my superiors at work daily. I know there was a time in my life (probably my twenties) where that made me uncomfortable. Now, in my late thirties in a career I feel confident in, I don’t mind. I stand my ground, push back if need be, or give in, if that’s best for the situation too. Know why this is? Because I’m mature enough to handle these situations. I know what I know, but I’m not always right and I can work well with others. Why am I telling you all this!? Stay with me, I’m getting there and of course sports and life lessons are involved!

We had a situation at a baseball game that got out of control. After numerous innings of the srtike zone apparently growing, our coach finally decided to say something. He “questioned” the strike zone. Immediately the umpire got defensive. He took the conversation to a different level. He didn’t like that our coach “questioned” the way he was doing his job. I’ve seen this before in sports, umpires or referees that don’t like being undermined. We’re not condoning confrontations with officials, but what we are advocating for is the ability to have a conversation with said official in an adult manner.

Officials are human beings and we all make mistakes and we all use our judgement to the best of our abilities. With that said, when a coach decides to “question” an official they should be mature enough to have an adult conversation about the issue at hand (this goes for both parties).

The situation we were part of was far from a mature conversation. The home plate umpire was not interested in having a civil conversation. He went straight to beligerent and kicked out our coach. After resuming the game he walked over to two of our coaches that were having a conversation in the dugout and proceeded to kick them out, based on what he thought they were discussing. The first base umpire had had enough and decided to intervene and the two umpires had “words” with each other. The home plate umpire called the game and the first base umpire disagreed and told him so. After a physical altercation between the umps, the first base umpire went to his car to get his gear to continue the game. Coaches from both sides agreed to end the game. When the first base umpire came back another altercation between the two happened again. With coaches seperating them and escorting them to the parking lot the situation ended. It was one of the strangest games I’ve ever witnessed!

So, to conclude, this entire situation could’ve been avoided if the umpire were able to have an adult conversation about the events happening during the course of the game. We as a society need to be able to have constructive, uncomfortable conversations. Once we all can do that, I’m betting some pretty amazing things can happen!


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Don’t Take Your Negativity Public

The internet is an awesome, amazing and scary thing. Having information at your fingertips is great, but what some people do on the internet is not cool. I’m not talking about inappropriate content (that’s for someone else’s blog). I’m talking about using the internet to spout negativity or bad-mouth people or things (hence the reason we created this blog). It was brought to our attention recently that someone was bad-mouthing a sports organization our kids belong to.

Let me be clear, I don’t deny having bad experiences in some organizations. Our sport experience hasn’t always been sunshine and roses. But, one thing I’ve never done is use the web to tell everyone how terrible the organization is and how they wronged my child. What good comes of that?

Of course I was sad and hurt to see the things they said about the organization, my kid has had a great experience. But, I also understand each experience is different, depending on the child and the parents. No organization is going to please every family, it’s just a reality. How you handle how you are/were treated is up to you. However, in my opinion, the mature way to handle how you feel is not blabbing to all your friends or taking to the internet. Our culture is driven by negativity, people feed on drama (that’s why reality shows have taken over the tube).

I’m charging all our followers to be the change. Our family has changed our outlook and created this blog for the shear purpose of spreading posivity. When you’re faced with a difficult situation and your instinct is to jump on social media and vent in a negative way, I emplore you to stop and think about it. Anyone who knows me, knows this is a tactic I use regularly. I’m very reactionary, so, if I’m angry I can say or do things I will for sure regret later (thankfully, I married someone who balances me and helps me with this).

We teach our children that what they post could affect the rest of their lives (ie, college acceptance, job search), but many adults don’t follow the same rules. Parents need to look inside themselves and practice what they preach. Feel free to show your emotions, discuss with close friends and family, but leave it there. Don’t go all over town talking negatively and don’t post it all over social media. Let’s all lead our children by being good examples ourselves.