25 Things Girls Who Grew Up Playing Basketball Know To Be True

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by Stephanie Hankemeier
To say I miss playing basketball would be the biggest understatement of the year. Growing up on a basketball court changed my life in so many ways and absolutely contributed to the person that I am today.
1. Your teammates and coaches became family. You spent endless hours at weekend tournaments, between games, and at sleepovers with these girls. You shared everything about boys, your family, and all the drama from school.
2. It taught you about work ethic. You had some tough coaches, but the more they pushed you, the better you got. You may have even hated them at times, but looking back, they made you better on and off the court.
3. You learned that you are capable of so much more than you thought. You had no idea you would end up playing such a big role on your team.
4. You fell in love with the game at an early age. Even in elementary school, you and the girls would literally count down the days until game time.
5. You learned to be a better team member. On and off the court, you learned to work well with others and work toward team goals.
6. You mastered the mental battle. And now you apply it in your adult life. When you win games that everyone expects you to lose, there’s a confidence that stays with you for life. Your coach was right, the biggest battle really is in your head.
7. You loved playing in close games. This was the greatest rush you could ever experience.
8. The words “killers,” “burpees” and “get on the baseline” are significant. These still make your stomach turn.
9. But you kind of miss running killers, doing burpees, and getting on the baseline. You never thought you would actually miss that.
10. You love the smell of the gym. That familiar smell is forever engrained in your memory.
11. You still hug your coach. Whenever you see him/her as an adult, you can’t help but hug them tight. After all, they will never truly know how much you appreciate all the lessons and memories.
12. You were never alone. Being on a team meant you never went through anything alone.
13. You miss the friends you made. Whether it was on AAU teams or at summer basketball camps, you’ll never forget all the laughs you shared.
14. You feel empty without it. Every time you watch a game, you feel a pit in your stomach, because you miss it so much.
15. You remember the plays. You still remember some of the plays that you used to run.
16. You can use your left hand. The day you finally learned to use your left hand made you realize that you could do anything that you set your mind to.
17. You have scars. You’re proud of your basketball scars and you still smile when you see them.
18. You love the music. Your pre-game song still gets you pumped up.
19. You own medals and trophies. You still have all the medals and trophies that you won and they still make you proud.
20. You were a tomboy. You went through a tomboy phase and that little boy still lives in you to this day.
21. You have a favorite number. Your basketball number is still your favorite number.
22. You hate annoying parents. Who can forget the parents that yelled way too much and made the refs want to pull their hair out?
23. You miss home games. That feeling when the gym was packed and the cheers were loud will still give you goosebumps.
24. You own plenty of socks. All Nike everything.
25. You’re excited to have kids. The thought of watching your future kids play, and maybe even coaching them someday, makes your heart skip a beat.

One of my friends asked “Why do you pay so much money for your kids to do all their sports”?

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By Chris Rohrer

So, if I am not paying for sports what am I paying for?
– I pay for those moments when my kids become so tired they want to quit but don’t.

– I pay for those days when my kids come home from school and are “too tired” to go to their training but they go anyway.

– I pay for my kids to learn to be disciplined, focused and dedicated.

– I pay for my kids to learn to take care of their body and equipment.

– I pay for my kids to learn to work with others and to be good team mates, gracious in defeat and humble in success.

– I pay for my kids to learn to deal with disappointment, when they don’t get that placing or title they’d hoped for, but still they go back week after week giving it their best shot.

– I pay for my kids to learn to make and accomplish goals.

– I pay for my kids to respect, not only themselves, but other athletes, officials and coaches.

– I pay for my kids to learn that it takes hours and hours, years and years of hard work and practice to create a champion and that success does not happen overnight.

– I pay for my kids to be proud of small achievements, and to work towards long term goals.

– I pay for the opportunity my kids have and will have to make life-long friendships, create lifelong memories, to be as proud of their achievements as I am.

– I pay so that my kids can be out on the field or in the gym instead of in front of a screen…

…I could go on but, to be short, I don’t pay for sports; I pay for the opportunities that sports provides my kids with to develop attributes that will serve them well throughout their lives and give them the opportunity to bless the lives of others. From what I have seen so far I think it is a great investment!

The Power of Unselfishness

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By Kevin Eastman (former College and NBA Coach)
Two words that never seem to go together or work together: selfishness and winning. On the other hand, when we study the key characteristics of winning organizations we find that unselfishness is of paramount importance. It’s a necessary ingredient that enhances other aspects of success in a team endeavor.

So why is unselfishness so important? What does it do to teams? It has been my experience with the Boston Celtics and the Los Angles Clippers (and in particular, as a coach in our 2008 NBA World Championship run) that unselfishness itself was extremely important for us, but the unselfish attitude created additional advantages for us that were also key to our success.

Some of those by-products of an unselfish approach:
• The spirit of our team was much greater
• The intensity of our play was increased
• The willingness to move the ball created easier, high percentage shots for us
• It helped us plug holes in our defense; we covered for each other
• It created frustration in our opponents, as the power of the pass can never be underestimated
• It kept us juiced up for the next game (which is very important when you’re playing over 100 games in an NBA season); our guys wanted to come to work
• It gave us confidence that we could survive a player’s off night because the ball always found the open player (and therefore, the high percentage shot)
• It allowed us the feeling that one guy never had to carry the burden
• It gave us a sense that we could not be beaten because opponents had to beat all of us together — not just one superstar on his own
• Most of all, it made us want to be out there on the floor every night, knowing it was truly us against the opponent. We knew our backs were covered every minute of every game. We knew if we absorbed ourselves in the team that we would have a chance to succeed at the highest level!

Is unselfishness important? YES. It is proven year after year if you study championship teams in all sports. Unselfishness is important enough that it is part of the DNA of every champion!

My Son Didn’t Start Today

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My son is 9. His name is Nate. He LOVES sports.
In football this year, he led the team in touchdowns . . . . and tackles. In baseball, he was the starting short stop, and hit the ball further than anyone in the whole league. In soccer, nobody on his team scored more goals last Spring. He’s an athletic kid.
Nate has played 4 seasons of basketball, 1 season of baseball, 1 season of soccer, and 3 seasons of flag football. And because he’s the biggest kid on the team (every single season, not one teammate has been taller on any of those 9 teams), he’s usually been one of the best kids.
It doesn’t hurt that he was at a high school football game the fifth day he was alive; I was a Head Football Coach at the high school level at the time, 2006. He’s grown up around the fields and gyms as I’ve been a high school Athletic Director for 6 of his 9 years.
They’ve had two basketball practices this year, today was their first game. I’ve been to both practices. I told my wife after the first one, “well this is going to be an interesting season for Nate. He’s not the best player on the team this year.” I’ve got a very realistic view of my kid’s talent. I know that most of his success so far has been because of his size.
The first year he played basketball, his team would win 14-4 or 18-12, and Nate would score 10 or 14 points. The coach LOVED him. But look how easy it was for him to score! He was a giant!!
The biggest kids are usually going to score the most points! I get that. Guess which one is Nate?! This was his first year playing basketball. 2013
The next year, his coach told him to shoot a whole lot more than I thought he should. I would tell him to pass the ball more, so other kids would have a chance, and he would say “Dad, my coach told me not to, cause the other kids can’t make them like me.”
So I was worried about how he would react to the first time he wasn’t “the man” on this team, the first time he wasn’t a starter. I wondered when that would be.
For the first time ever my son didn’t start today.
Today when I watched the coach sit the whole team down on the bench, and then call out 5 of the 9 and 10 year olds to take the court, my son wasn’t picked. Nate was one of the three left on the bench. My heart kind of sunk. For my kid.
I was worried about this day, when he wasn’t the best kid, or at least one of the top ones on the team. I was worried for my kid. How would he react? I’ve been working with unrealistic parents for 15 years as a high school football coach. I definitely DO NOT want to be THAT dad! So, I wasn’t worried about me, I was worried about my son.
And you know what?
He NEVER even mentioned not being a starter, not one time today did he even hint at it. I even tried to get him to. “What was your favorite part of the game?” “What was your least favorite?” “What was the best thing?” “What was the worst thing?”
His favorite part: “We won!”
Least favorite: “The one basket I missed.” (He did score 2 points)
The best thing: “We won!”
Worst thing: “That the game was over.”
Parents: your kids will be fine if they don’t start! As long as you’re fine!!!
If you’re teaching your kids all along the way that the TEAM > I, then when he doesn’t start, it won’t be a big deal.
If you’re teaching your kid to shake the coach’s hand, and say thank you after every single practice and game, he will have a healthy respect for his coach; it won’t matter when he doesn’t start.
If you teach your kid that every single person has a role to play on a team, starting at a young age, then it won’t be a big deal when he doesn’t start.
If you teach your kid to “just play hard and have fun,” then it won’t be a big deal when he doesn’t start.

If you use teachable moments while watching the NFL to teach your child that you don’t always get what you want, it won’t be a big deal when he doesn’t start.
I was more proud of my son today then I ever have been. He was the only one on the bench standing and cheering for his teammates.
And this afternoon, while there was a commercial break during the NFL game, I asked him why he likes to cheer so much for his team when he isn’t in the game. This little 9 year old looked up at me and said “Dad, I like to treat others the way I want to be treated.”
For the first time my son didn’t start today, and I couldn’t have been more proud!

Author Chris Fore is a veteran football coach and athletic director from Southern California. He has a Masters degree in Athletic Administration, is a Certified Athletic Administrator, and is on the California Coaches Association Board.

Success vs. Geno Auriemma

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UCONN’s Geno Auriemma’s career record is 970–134. Coaches with the most victories against him: Notre Dame’s Muffett McGraw (11-33);Villanova’s Harry Perretta (11-36); PROVIDENCE’S BOB FOLEY (10–16); Pat Summitt of Tennessee(9-13).

When Your Child Is Ready to Quit, Tell Them This

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Frustrated by the tough schedule and lack of playing time, I asked my parents if I could quit basketball. What they said made ALL the difference in who I am today.
By Emma Walker
When I was a freshman in high school, my basketball team was small. In fact, it was so small that we didn’t have a freshmen or JV team. My coach was tough. He had high expectations and conducted physically and mentally demanding practices. I suited varsity, but only got in the last minute or two (if we were winning by enough). Essentially, I only had the opportunity to play in practice. However, I battled, knowing that next year could be my year.
The beginning of my sophomore year was different. It was a huge disappointment for me. I still found myself sitting on the bench, going in the last minute or so when my team was up big. The basketball season is a grind, and I don’t care what anybody says, winter sports (basketball and wresting) are the most challenging. The weather is cold, it gets dark at 4:30, it’s long, there are 3-4 games a week at times… it’s exhausting. The weak will not survive, and at that time, I was weak. I begged my parents to let me quit.
They didn’t say no, but they gave me a condition. I could quit, IF I approached my coach and asked him about my role, and what I could do to get better.
Approach Coach P? To me, this was an absolute nightmare. I didn’t sleep that night. The entire school day, I didn’t hear a single word my teachers said, because I was so focused on how and when I would approach him. I decided in math class that I would do it after practice that night.
Practice flew by. It always seems like when you are dreading something, time races to the moment. I took my practice shoes off, put on my sweats, and walked across the gym to what felt like my execution.
Coach was sitting in his office, already creating a scouting report for the next game. I asked if I could talk to him, and as soon as I sat down, I started sobbing. I was thinking, “OHMYGOD OHMYGOD EMMA STOP CRYING,” but I couldn’t. My disappointment and self-doubt all exploded into a disastrous ball of emotion. So here I was, bawling in front of the man I feared most in this cold dark world… and I mean bawling, and do you know what he did? Coach gave me a huge hug.
He let me talk (at least through my sobs), and then he let me listen. He was honest. He told me that I wasn’t ready. I was too weak to be on the floor when it mattered the most, I didn’t work hard enough in the offseason, but he told me that I had potential, and asked me to stick with it.
I am honestly crying as I write this, thinking about how grateful I am for that moment with him, and for the guidance from my parents. I finished the season, despite a lack of playing time, and worked hard that summer. The next year, I played in every single game. I was awarded Honorable Mention All-Conference, and our team made it to the substate regional final, where I had 15 rebounds against IKM-Manning.
The following year, I was a senior captain and starter. After the best athletic season I have ever participated in , my team made it to the first state tournament since the 1960s. I was again an All-Conference selection, and was invited to play at the Iowa All-Star Basketball game in Cedar Rapids. My senior year laid the foundation for a 2010 team that would win its first state title.
What would have happened if my parents sent Coach P an email demanding to know why I wasn’t playing? What would have happened if they let me quit without having a conversation with him? My parents have taught me more things than I could ever count, but one of the most important things was to fight my own battles, and never give up.
They could have badmouthed my coach in the stands, wrote terrible things about him on social media, or encouraged me to quit. I know this because as a coach, I get a lot of this every single season. I have even had parents take a picture of me, and post it on facebook with some very nasty comments. I have also had to ask my parents to escort me out of one of my games, because I had parents waiting to confront me in the lobby. However, my parents didn’t make this about themselves; they made it about the relationship between my coach and me.
To this day, Coach P has been one of the most impacting people in my life. Finding the courage to approach him, and having the ability to trust his honesty led me down one of the greatest paths in high school. Now as a high school coach myself, basketball continues to be one of the biggest pieces of my life.
I urge all parents to encourage your children to fight their own battles. Have your kids come talk to me, but also make sure they are open to my honesty. I am not going to tell your child she deserves to play if she doesn’t. Coach P did not lie to me. He told me I wasn’t good enough to play yet, and I accepted that. In fact, I felt that he respected me enough to be honest with me. It motivated me, and I worked harder, until it paid off.
Emma Walker is a twenty-six year-old high school English/Language Arts teacher at Atlantic High School in Atlantic, Iowa. She is also the Head Varsity Volleyball Coach, and Assistant JV Basketball Coach for the Atlantic Trojans.

COACHING GENERATION Z

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They are a tricky bunch. Creative in countless ways, especially on the basketball court. Consumed with social media, quick fixes and impatience. Generation Z aka The Millennials, is a group that needs to be understood in order to lead. A task many coaches fail to do because they do not take the time. The time to hear them out, step into their shoes and identify with their struggle.
The coaches I played for at a high level were at least 45 or older.
Let me put into perspective what a 25 year age difference looks like. In the past 25 years, we have invented the Digital Camera, Web Browser, Tivo and Iphone. We have had the Gulf War, 9/11, War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War. We have had 4 presidents, 3 stock market crashes, 2 major floods in New Orleans alone and 1 Donald Trump. Our coaches have no idea what it was like growing up in our era and vice versa.
Our childhood was synonymous with video games, computers and the digital age. My coaches were raised in the 60’s, 70’s 80’s; I’m not going to even try to explain what that time period was like.
I do know when it comes to basketball, you guys had quite a list of players to watch. You had the 11-time NBA Champion, The Logo, Dr. J, Pistol Pete, Magic and Bird. We grew up on the 2nd half of MJ, The Diesel, King James, AI and the Black Mamba. Terrific in their own right, but different. A new brand of basketball where everyone is a guard, and the game turned into an offensive showcase rather than the physical war it once was.
Not saying any era was better than the other, but each comes with a it’s own set of values and principles. Generation Z is being written off for theirs, but let us analyze them before jumping to a conclusion.
The Knock on The Millennials
Lack a strong work ethic. Impatient. Don’t listen to authority. Disregard tradition. Want to know why before taking action. Selfish. Terrible listeners. Stubborn. The list goes on and on, but these are some of the negative characteristics of Generation Z.
Tell me if this dialogue sounds familiar:
Coach: I need you to fade to the corner as the guard drives. Player: I shoot better from the wing. Coach: I don’t care where you shoot better from, go to the corner. Player: Why would I go to the corner if I am more of a threat from here? Coach: Dammit! Because I said so!
I get it, they are frustrating.
Especially when coaches grew up much more obedient than the players they are instructing now. Youth basketball players question nearly everything, and quite frankly I don’t blame the coaches for losing their temper every now and then. Maybe there is an alternative.
As a Point Guard, it was my job to understand my teammates psychologically so I knew how to reach them in the game. I needed to know what made them play harder, what would make them withdrawal, how to speak to them after a mistake and how to keep them engaged. I learned all of this by observing in practice, the dorms, eating and celebrating together. I knew my teammates like they were my family… because they were.
*Coaches do not go to parties with your players. I repeat, do not go to parties with your players. It is a recipe for disaster, ask Larry Eustachy from Iowa State if you don’t believe me.*
That shouldn’t stop you from knowing them. Each of your players has a unique personality, a different shame coping mechanism and a contrasting response to your coaching philosophy. The more time you invest into building a relationship away from the court, the less “why” responses you will hear.
This generation doesn’t just trust the coach because you are the authoritative figure. They trust the person who shows they care about them. Be the coach, mentor and leader that cares about them as much you want them to care about you.
Product of Environment
I will never forget having a conversation with a teammate of mine after leaving practice. He said to me, “Coach has no idea about where I come from. There were times where I went to bed hungry. Days without hot water to take a shower. He doesn’t care about any of that, as long as I stay quiet and say yes sir or no sir.”
My coach and that player (along with a few others) never had a relationship. Constantly bumping heads, and you know what the saddest part was? He was the most talented player on the team and one of the smartest I had ever played with. He didn’t reach his potential as a player and we didn’t reach our potential as a team because of a lack of communication.
That is unacceptable.
Listen coach, many players need guidance and in the game of basketball that need is magnified. Many of us come from dysfunctional homes, single-parent households or without any leadership at all. We have been put on a pedestal because of our talent in a sport, but nobody took the time to develop our character. This generation is full of creative and innovative minds that can transform industries. Can you imagine what it could do on a basketball court?
Both the players and the coaches need to find a common ground, but the coach has to make that initial step. Environment plays a huge role in the development of people and these players character. Only one out of my three Division 1 coaches cared about the lives of his players outside of basketball. George Nessman at San Jose State University. One of those coaches who you can have a lifelong relationship with, that made you a better man not just a better basketball player.
A Common Thread
Every Hall of Famer steps up to the podium and thanks his coach. With tears in his eyes he says something along the lines of, “Thank you coach for being a father figure”, or “Thank you coach for saving my life.” They don’t talk about how much they appreciate their coach for for showing them how to properly run a zone offense. The impact coaches have on their players occurs far away from the gym.
It starts with the conversations you have about life. Wanting to know about their families, hobbies, passions, school work and aspirations outside of basketball. The knowledge you spew onto them that have nothing to do with the defense you plan to run that season. The stories you share with them to make sure they don’t make the same mistakes you did. The discipline you give them for off the court issues that shapes their character. The guidance you give when they run into a tough situations.
We have watched players embrace coaches like John Thompson, Tom Izzo and Bob Huggins. That hug is not because he corrected his players shooting form. It is because he took that player under his wing, demanded the world from him and changed his life not his game.
Closing Thoughts
A recent article on Buzzfeed listed the 28 things millennials have killed, including Golf, Football, Soap, Relationships, Napkins and everything inbetween. Sounds like a pessimistic view to me. Glass half full mindsets might describe them as innovators, trailblazers or trendsetters. The same can go for the game of basketball.
Generation Z is not easy to coach. As a youth basketball coach now, I have the perspective of both sides. Players want to be cared about, understood and lead. Coaches want to be respected and trusted. Both desires are met away from the game, nowhere near the court.

Playing one sport year-round isn’t smart, even for kids who want to go pro

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By Fred Bowen

Intense training often leads to burnout or injuries, studies show.

It’s summertime. That means long, hot days, no school — and summer camps.

Lots of kids spend at least some of the summer at camps. There are overnight camps, theater camps and, of course, sports camps.

Some kids spend the whole year playing one sport, such as soccer, baseball or basketball. And what do they do during the summer? They go to a camp and keep playing that sport.

So what’s wrong with that?

There’s a lot wrong with specializing at a young age. It’s much better for kids to play a variety of sports and use the summer to sample new ones.Tennis is a sport you might try this summer if you usually play soccer or baseball.

A study published in the journal Sports Health found that “for most sports, there is no evidence that intense training and specialization before [age 13 or 14] are necessary to achieve elite status. Risks of early sports specialization include higher rates of injury . . . and quitting sports at a young age.”

How big is the risk of injury if you specialize in one sport? A Loyola University Chicago study of 1,200 youth athletes found that kids who specialized in one sport were 70 percent to 93 percent more likely to be injured than multi-sport athletes.That’s a lot.

Kids who specialize in one sport also get burned out. An Ohio State University study found that kids who played a single sport were more likely to quit their sport and be physically inactive as adults.

But don’t you have to specialize in one sport when you’re a kid to have a chance to play in college or be a pro?

No!

Sorry, but I have to talk about another study. This one was a survey of college athletes by the American Society of Sports Medicine. The study found that 88 percent of college athletes played more than one sport when they were kids.

Look at this year’s National Football League draft. Twenty-six of the 31 first-round picks, including Jared Goff, the player drafted ahead of all the others, had been multi-sport athletes in high school, according to Tracking Football.

It wasn’t just the first round: 224 of the 256 draft picks had played more than one sport in high school. More than a third of the drafted players were three-sport athletes.

So if you are a year-round baseball kid, try soccer this summer. It will get you into great shape and help you move your feet in the infield. Or if you’re a soccer kid, try hoops or lacrosse, or tennis or rock climbing.

Have some fun, and try something new. It’s summertime.

 

Three Reasons Coaches Aren’t Respected Like The Old Days

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There is a phrase in the article that really got me thinking, and prompted me to write this article.  He says “What’s so baffling is why athletes no longer fear their coaches.”

Three Reasons Coaches Aren’t Respected Like The Old Days

  1.  Parents

One time, when I was about 14 years old, I threw my bat after striking out.  My mom marched right down from her uncomfortable wooden bleacher seat, and pulled me out of the dugout, and ripped me a new one.  Then she told the coach I couldn’t play the rest of the game.  Do you think he questioned her?!  Nope!  My butt rode the pine for the last 3 innings.  She ripped in to me right there in front of my teammates, my coaches, the opposing team, their coaches, the umpires, the birds, and everyone else!   That was 1989.  My friends STILL talk about that.  Where are those parents today?

Do you think I ever threw my bat again?  Absolutely not! 

It ALL starts at home, period.  I grew up playing youth sports in the 1980s, high school sports in the early 90s (born in 1976).  I learned very early on from my parents that the coach was always right.  This isn’t true today.  Today, coaches just are not respected like they were for many decades.

It goes hand in hand with the respect that all leadership positions have these days.  It’s not just coaching.  Look at how college presidents are respected now days?  Students storm their offices to demand change, and won’t leave until they see change.  Again, this starts at home.

I was disgusted to see a large brawl in the stands of a youth football game this past season.  PARENTS fighting in the stands.  It is almost common place now to see this type of phone camera footage.  It doesn’t shock us anymore.  So, when parents in the stands are fighting, what are the kids going to do?

I’ve been questioned many times by parents about my decision regarding playing time for their kids over my 15 years of coaching high school football.  That trend has most definitely gotten worse from year 1 to year 15.  The decision-making of coaches is questioned today like never before.  With parents questioning coaches, kids lose respect of those coaches.

  1.  Administrators

15 years ago, 20 years ago, if a parent had an issue with a coach, they would go to the coach.  Now they don’t go to the coach.  They don’t go to the Athletic Director.  They go straight to the Principal.  They go straight to the school board.  One reason that coaches are not respected like the good old days is because some administrators are not willing to stand by their coaches.

Some administrators offices have a revolving door for parents.

Administrators are wavering of their support for coaches to keep their jobs in some situations.  They are being swayed by parents so that they remain popular.  Some administrators would rather fire a coach who has done a great job of teaching kids, and running their program then deal with parents who are not happy with their kid’s playing time.  Athletic Directors and Principals are making quick decisions to cut a coach loose to keep parents satisfied.

Pacifying parents like this is a short term solution to a long term problem.  Without a proper and respected chain of command, when parents have the principal on speed dial, coaches are not respected.  Look no further than a Teacher of the Year candidate from San Diego who was fired this offseason.

  1.  Political Correctness

Several years ago when I was a Head Coach, I had a player miss practice.  The result of missing a practice during Training Camp was having to make that practice up through physical conditioning.  This was in the handbook that players and parents had received before summer football practice began.  It was written policy.  Parents signed off on our expectations, players signed off on our expectations.  A player wasn’t allowed to start in a game until they made up their missed practice.

This player was making up his absence by doing a series of up downs, pushups, situps and sprints.  This was supervised by our coaching staff.  I was called a “bully.”  I was called a bully for holding this student-athlete accountable for missing practice.  I was called a bully for making the kid do these exercises.  I wasn’t even the one supervising him doing this workout.  I was helping students with their gear, fixing helmet buckles, and chinstraps.  But this family member came right up to me, in front of 15 of my players, and started yelling at me for bullying this kid. Unbelievable!

The way many parents view coaches these days.

Coaches are not allowed to hold their student-athletes accountable anymore.  Raising our voices to get the attention of an athlete is called bullying.  Motivating with persuasion to give your best is called bullying.  Coaches are called into the administration building for simply doing their job to create the best team that they can.  Coaches are confronted in grocery stores by parents over their coaching strategies, and told not to talk to their son at all.  How can you coach a kid without talking to them?

In 1954, legendary coach “Bear” Bryant held a training camp in a rural area away from the campus of Texas A and M in an effort to “toughen up the boys.”  The camp started with about 100 players.  It ended with about 35.  It’s a famous story about the “Junction Boys,” even turned in to a movie.  One year later they did not lose a game.  Coach Bryant is one of the best football coaches in our nation’s history.  If he held that camp today, Bear Bryant would be arrested, and sent to jail for a long time.  I’m not agreeing with many of the tactics used by Bryant, like not allowing water.  He did some absurd things.  My point here is that political correctness has created a “soft” environment, and is  third main reason that coaches are not respected like the good old days.

Dear Coach, I want to quit.

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Hello Coach Leath,
My dad says I can’t quit my team, but I don’t want to play football anymore. All I do is sit on the bench during the games. What should I do?
Your Friend,
Chris, 11

Dear Chris,
Congratulations on making the football team. Believe it or not, the first year I tried out for football I did not make the team. I remember how sad I was when the coach read off the names of the kids who would be playing that year. I tried out the next year and sat on the bench during most of the games, only playing a few plays. But I knew I would not play in the games. The other players were bigger and better than I was, so why would coach put me in?
So, instead of complaining about playing time, I decided to make practice my games. Every Tuesday and Thursday I would prepare for practice as if I was going to be playing a game. I went all out on the scout team, knowing that the harder I was to block in practice, the better my team would do in the game. When they did well in the game, I took pride in knowing I helped them prepare.
Practice was hard, Chris. I got knocked down, a lot. I was scared, but I tried not to let the other players know how scared I was. Some of the players hit really hard and the noise alone made me want to quit.
After a few weeks I got better and was less afraid. I made some friends on the team and started to have fun. I still got knocked down, and I wasn’t very good, but I realized what a privilege it was to be on the team. I promised myself I would finish the season and then decide if I wanted to play again.
Also, I thought I was letting my dad down by not starting. When I told him I was embarrassed because I sat the bench, he told me he was proud that I made the team, and that he loved to watch me go all out in practice. That helped a lot knowing that my dad just loved to watch me practice.
The next year, you know what? I was one of the best players on the team. I was voted team captain and rarely came out of the game. I am not saying this will happen for you, but I am telling you that in order to be good at something, you have to be okay with being bad at it first. Then you get better. Always aim to get better, no matter what you do in life.
I want to encourage you to finish the season. You don’t have to play next year, but you should follow through with your commitment and try to have as much fun while you are there. Please don’t quit.

Stay Curious,

Coach Leath

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