Coaching lacrosse has been such a gift in my life for the last 19 years. Not only do I have the privilege of working with amazing teenagers, but also have learned so much about being a parent of an athlete. There is no better way to learn than through experience. The lessons learned through coaching have impacted both me and my husband in the way we approach our own children and their sporting endeavors. A few lessons:
- Sports are fleeting– They don’t last forever. Let your child enjoy every moment of competition. Let them fail. Let them succeed. And let them do it all humbly. Don’t ruin the short time they have to learn, grow, play, lead….
- Sports mimic life if we let them– Don’t get in the way. Let your child hurt. Let them learn to lead. Let them win and lose and ride the bench and play the whole game. There is a lesson in all of it– it builds character, perseverance, leadership, friendship, grit.
- Let coaches lead– Coaches do not always get it right. They don’t always have all the answers. But, if given the chance, they are human beings who can influence children in a multitude of ways. Let them make their mark. Even let the ones that may not do it right… there is a life lesson in that, right? Step aside.
- Sports are fun– There is no question athletes should be pushed to their limits. Challenged to do things of which they hardly knew they were capable. But, all in all, the most important thing is not what the athlete gets out of it individually– but the fun they have with teammates. The bonds built that last a lifetime. The innate knowledge that someone has your back– let them savor it.
What I know….My kids will play for all sorts of coaches. And they must learn to be respectful to them all. They will play with all kinds of teammates. They must learn to work with every single one of them. My kids will make teams, get cut from teams, play the whole game, never play at all– this is life. I will let them learn, even if it hurts (even if it tears my heart out to watch them hurt), that this is life. Make the most of the opportunities presented and savor every minute. Because there is simply nothing like being on a field with a group of peers, united, fighting for something, pushing limits, knowing that it all may turn out the exact opposite of the way you desire. Vulnerability. That’s what sport provides. So let them feel it, own it, live it. Let it be their gig….