Category Archives: Experiences

Why I Really Coach

As another season of youth football has come to a close, and it is my son’s last season as he will be entering high school next year, I am faced with the dilemma of, “is this my last season, too or will I coach again next year?”

Many people assume it is my last given my son’s age and I may take a break from it next year, but I don’t really think it is my last for one simple reason – Why I really coach.

Many youth coaches are out there because it is a way to be involved with their own kids.  They find it is a way to build a bond and have something special with their child.  In many cases if they did not step up to coach their might not be a team at all.  Unfortunately, you also see the ones who at the end of a game aren’t as concerned with the final score as they are with their own kid’s statistics.  They coach to insure that their kid is the star and is in every play.

There are also those coaches who do it because it fulfills their competitive needs.  They are former athletes themselves still in great shape, but are too old to be allowed on the field themselves.  They are living vicariously through their players until the Redskins call.  They like the rush they get from winning and the power they feel which is something they don’t get from their jobs.

Then are those who really do have something to share and want to make a difference.  They see coaching as a way to pass along some of their knowledge and help give something back to the community.

So, which one am I?

I definitely have done it to be involved with my kid.  I have done it not to make my kid the star but in one case to prevent that “one dad” from ruining the season for everyone by him making his kid the star at the expense of everyone else.  I do love the thrill of winning but, alas, I have not maintained my athletic physique and if the Redskins were to call me, it would be to be a food taster for Dan Snyder.

I have done it to give something back to the community and make a difference in a kid’s life but I think I am unique in why I think I can or should  do this.  I had a great teacher and coach growing up.   My Dad.

He was my baseball coach all through Little League.   When he passed away several years ago, at his funeral I saw several men who I hadn’t seen since high school or even some since we had played Little League together.  Each one was there because my dad as their Little League coach 30 years earlier had touched their lives in a way they never forgot.  Several of them shared stories about how he had helped them or how as an adult they had remembered something he taught them or said to them that got them through difficult times.  All things that I didn’t know or just took for granted.  When I saw the impact he had on so many young people by just being a dad who was a volunteer baseball coach, I knew I had to follow his example.

This is one of many reasons I am so passionate about what coaches do and say around players and the special treatment gifted athletes are given.  Kids are impressionable and like it or not they do notice.  Winning is important but it is not why kids should be playing and why coaches should be coaching.  It is not the win/loss record that will have a lasting impact.

Do I think any of the kids I have coached will show up at my funeral one day?  I doubt it.  But I would like to think that when one of them comes to a crossroads in their life (i.e. rob the Smoothie King or not?) they will think about something I did or said and make the right choice.

Just like my Dad.

 PS:  I just came across this article from The Washington Post Good Coaches Win in Other Ways”.    Ditto, Bingo, Exactly…..

Side Note:  Jasmina Parazic, who is pictured in the article, coached my daughter this year in Field Hockey.   A great expereince for her and now she is hooked on the sport!

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What Unique Perspective We Would Bring Today…

An Open Letter to My Fellow Cast Members:

I was thinking recently about what the real purpose of Up With People is/was?  Was it to make a difference in the world then or make a difference in us so we could make a difference later?

Look at how much each of us has grown in the past 20 plus years.  You can see it in the compassion and sincerity of our posts, in the thoughtfulness we each have for one another, the varied life experiences we are able to draw upon, the resources each individual brings…well, the list is endless.

When we first met in Tucson we were all very bright eyed and enthusiastic about what lay before us.  Some were more idealistic than others and some younger in years than the rest yet older in wisdom.  It was the diversity of 120 young people and Pat (just kidding!) from 17 different countries coming together and traveling throughout the world that made the experience so unique.  We all had our own views of life and we were drawing upon our own experiences.  But we were young and how many “experiences” did we really have?

We grew a lot during that year.  Our eyes, our minds and our hearts were opened and our pool of experiences was expanded.  All of this certainly has helped shape us and guide us as we have matured and taken on greater responsibilities like families, jobs, mortgages volunteer work, etc.  I think it is safe to say that 20 years ago we thought we were making a difference in the world but the real difference was being made in us.

We took our limited knowledge of life and traveled across the world, singing about peace and tolerance and we lived in the homes of people we had never met.  While our Host Families certainly learned something from us, we learned so much more from them.

Now imagine if we were to do it all again, only this time being the age we are now, having all the experiences we have had.  What a unique perspective we would be able to bring.

Yes, some of the dance moves would have to be scaled back and we would need to go from having a nurse travel with us to now having a full medical staff including a chiropractor.  But think of what a different experience it would be not just for us, but everyone we came in contact with.

Think about some of those late night conversations you had with a host father, host sister or your room mate.  What would be your reaction or response to what they had to say or ask you?  I remember one host brother who even then I knew was headed the wrong way in life and going to end up in jail or dead.  What would I say to him now that I didn’t have the knowledge or courage to say to him then?

It is not realistic to think we could drop everything and head out on a bus today, but how can we use this in our own communities?  From what I have learned about each of you since rekindling this relationship, we all in some way are making a difference where we live and with those we come in contact.   All I can say is keep doing it.  I think only today are we beginning to see the fruits or our year in UWP.