Category Archives: fathers and daughters

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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Old for the Holidays

Thanksgiving has come and gone.  The house was full and the noise was deafening.  Plenty of loud music, television, arguing, laughter and best of all conversation.

All four of my children were home for Thanksgiving.  It was the first time in three months that all six of us had been together.  We only had  one night where it was just the six of us as relatives began arriving during the week.   But as I sat at the dining table that night and looked around, I had that eerily warm feeling.

Yes, I was soaking in the fact that our family was complete and also contemplating that these moments will be fewer and fewer as the years go by, but what really got to me was how old this made me feel.  Me, old…..how could it be?

I was having the thoughts that my parents had, and would creep me out, years ago whenever my brother, sister and I were all home at the same time.   I would catch my mother and father both staring at us and one another, soaking it all in and then getting a little self satisfied smile on their lips.  To be honest it was creepy and well, it made my parents look and seem old. 

I only turned 45 two weeks ago!  How can I feel so old?  I guess I feel old because I see so much of my parents in myself.  It is funny how we view our parents through life.

When you hit your twenties you realize your parents aren’t as old as you thought nor as stupid as you thought.

When your own children are infants you realize how much your parents really care for you even though you may find it hard to believe that anyone could care for another human being as much as you care for your own child.

When your children become teens you reliaze how much your parents reallyknew and how much they really must have trusted you.  (I can’t believe they let me do some of the things they let me do).

But when your children start to leave home, when the family unit becomes dispersed, what do you think of your parents?   You begin to understand they had a choice at that point.  Become old and let life slip away or take on a new spirit that involves putting themselves first.

I feel old.  I see life slipping away.  Another milestone reached, another moment in time that signifies life marches on and we get one step closer to finishing our time and jobs on this earth.  We live, we love, we procreate, we teach, we raise, we release and then we fade away to the end.

I have to shake this.  I am not old and I am not ready to be old.  I need to find what is in life that will help keep me young…….It is not a car or a girlfriend or any other stereo typical mid-life crisis cover up.

I have until Christmas.

Does the “N” Word have an Equivalent?, Part I

If you are a regular of my Blog, then you will recall a few posts I have had under the title “When “Ocho” is a “No No”  If you haven’t read them  – go do it now. 

Interestingly enough I actually started this post BEFORE the whole “Ocho Incident”.  This has just taken some time for me to complete because it is such a sensitive subject I have wanted to be clear on my message and get it right.  What I have found is there may be no “right” on this topic. 

I decided to put this out there, unfinished, and solicit thoughts, comments form you…..

I had a an interesting conversation via Instant Messenger the other night with my 18 year old daughter.  She is a freshman at a large university in the south and while she certainly hasn’t lived a sheltered life, she has been surprised at some of the “experiences” she has had there already.

I am not referring to drinking or the parties or even the way people act at SEC football games although the latter was eye opening for her and the former, I hope, was not something she has gotten *too* involved in.

No, I am talking about people’s attitudes toward race. 

The town we live in – the same town she grew up in –  is not very diverse even though we live within commuting distance of two moderate sized metropolitan cities.  Even so, I believe my kids have had many experiences with people who do not look like them or do not talk like them or who believe differently than they do so as not to see people’s differences as a bad thing.  Instead, I believe my wife and I have raised them to understand that these differences between people,  be it color, religion, Coke drinker v. Pepsi drinker, or whatever, are what make us all interesting and worth getting to know.  While my children are certainly not “color blind” they do not let a difference like that stop them from being humans.

But, sadly, this is not the case where my daughter goes to school.  There are still people who openly use the “N” word.  Inter-racial dating is heavily frowned upon. Minorities even practice “segregation by choice.”  Again, my daughter is no more naive than any young adult (her college room mate is black and one her best friends and prom date this year is black) but given her attitudes toward race it is shocking to her to see these things are practiced so openly.

As my IM session with my daughter continued I started asking her questions about her room mate.  A young girl from a small town in the south who was randomly put together with my daughter. All we knew about her when we took our daughter to school, was her name, where she was from, that she was salutatorian of her high school class, planning to major in chemistry and that she was black (our daughter had found a picture of her on the Internet.)

Since my daughter had mentioned how shocked she was that people used the “N” word so commonly, I asked her if she had considered asking her room mate what she thought of the word. We have all heard one black person call another this word but in reality how do black people really feel about the word?  What does it mean to a black person? And, how is it different if a non-black uses it in the same way as a black person does?

This led to my then suggesting she ask her what slang for white people do black people consider to be truly offensive in the same way that white people view the “N” word?  As I thought about what it might be (honky, cracker, red neck, whitey, bubba, ice mutant, casper) nothing really came to mind that really equaled the offensiveness of the “N” word.

So why is this? 

The “Bricks” Are What Matter

The following was written a week before I started this blog. It is an excerpt from an email that I sent one night to a group of old friends.   I speak to my daughter, ok it is more like IM with my daughter quite often and I am amazed at how grown up she is .  I have found myself going back and needing to read this to remind myself that yes, she is grown up but that is a good thing, and that no matter how grown up she gets, she will always be my little girl made up of the bricks that we made together.

I am sure many of you have come to realize over the years as I have, it is not the entire “house” that matters.  It is the individual “bricks of life” that collectively build the “house” that matter.

I guess I am getting somewhat sentimental this evening because in 5 hours my wife and I and our eldest daughter will be getting in our van and driving 8 hours to the South to drop her off at school.  And while this is not our first child we will be taking to school, I still have this sense of loss mixed with joy that I have never felt before.  It could be that she is the oldest girl. Or it could be that she will be so far away and we know we won’t see her for at least 3 months.  Maybe I am just realizing that with her and her older brother gone we have lost our younger children’s chauffeurs and our own personal errand runners.

When her brother left last year, it was a momentous occasion but it didn’t have this feel.  It might have been because his school is in Baltimore and less than an hour away.  Or it may have been almost a let down given that he was a 15 year cancer survivor and when your child is stricken with an illness like that you start to think about all the different milestones they may not reach. Then as they beat the disease and start to reach each milestone like first grade, first hit in baseball, first date, etc. they’re great but, well, they’re just events in life that could never live up the expectations or significance you have put on them.

But this with my daughter leaving feels different.  She had always been in her brother’s shadow having to spend most of her second year with her two grandmothers’ while we cared for him.  Then later he was this child that no matter how much we tried to down play it for our own sanity and the sake of our other children was treated like a “miracle” kid by teachers and others.  But she persevered and carved out her own niche as a leader in school, an accomplished dancer and twirler and the type of person who just made everyone feel comfortable and wanted to be around. All the while not fighting being “Ben’s little sister” but being proud of it and making a name for herself.

So what is it that feels wrong?  When your children reach high school you know that you will lose some touch with them.  They become more independent and you see less and less of them as their social calendars fill up and their time at the dinner table decreases.  As independent as she may have become over the past three years, I realize that this move to South Carolina is the next step in her growing up, making a name for herself and conquering a new frontier.  When I think of it in these terms I am touched with a sense of pride and a pang of sorrow, because I realize that this is what we as parents have worked so hard to prepare our kids to do.  So what I must be feeling is not a sense of loss of my daughter but a sense of loss of my role as a parent.

This is all a good test for me because we have two younger ones who will be in middle school this year and one day leaving home.  We always called our kids “the two older ones and the two little ones”.  Well the two older ones have moved out and we have the two younger ones to work on now.  We are going to make sure the kiln is nice and hot and starting baking some bricks.

Aren’t they lucky?