By Tony Hooker
Sweet memories flashing very quickly by
Reminding me and giving me a reason why
I know that my goal is more than a thought
I’ll be there when I teach what I’ve been taught
And I’ve been taught—Rush
There I was, on the practice green at Tri-City country club, when I was drawn to the peals of laughter and shouting emanating from the soccer field at Henson Park. I am not sure of their age, probably 5 or 6, and I was instantly transported back to a time when my kids were the 5- & 6-year old’s and I was the over-the-top coach, certain that my prowess would produce the next Mia Hamm or Landon Donovan. I am also certain that at times, I would glance over at the golf course, longingly wishing that I could be standing over a putt, rather than wearing a whistle and yelling at my team until I was hoarse.
Funny, but standing there over a putt last Saturday, I had a moment where I wished that I were back and wearing that whistle, screaming encouragement. Hindsight being what it is, I now know that those were some of the good old days, when our kids had nothing to worry about and we spent all of our time either coaching them or watching their activities.
Almost as quickly as the feeling came, it dissipated, because I know in my heart that my youth coaching days have passed, and it’s time for other young parents to step up and reap the rewards of coaching their kids’ teams, seeing their skills begin to develop and knowing that you played a role.
And that’s one of the lessons I’ve trying to teach. No matter what you put into your children’s activities, you’ll gain it back and so much more. Your kids will see that you’re truly invested in them when you volunteer to help, and I can’t imagine a situation where a coach would turn down help. You don’t have to know the first thing about the sport being played. Just helping to keep an eye on the players, or shag balls, or line the soccer pitch or keeping stats will be greatly appreciated. Trust me. Too often, I hear of parents who are “too busy” to invest themselves in their kids’ activities. I want to assure you that the coaches are “too busy,” also. Heck, we all are “too busy,” these days, but somehow those other coaches find time and you can too.
The other lesson I wish I could convey to all the young coaches is this. Chances are your players aren’t going to be the next Mia or Landon or Wynalda or Hope Solo, and that’s ok. In grade school, training them to be great shouldn’t be your main goal. That’s the role of their future coaches. Your main goal should be to teach them to be the best that they can be, to be a good teammate and to have tons of fun while doing it. No player will remember you for teaching them how to dribble a soccer ball or turn a double play, but they will remember you for investing in them and for making it a fun experience. Happy coaching, everyone. I’ll be on the golf course, remembering when….