Coaching
“This open letter was passed on to me, so I can’t claim to be the author. It has a lot of truth behind
it and it’s something I feel we all need to read every now and then. Next time you are at the ball field,
take the time to thank your coach and the coach of the other team for giving their time to the kids.” — Tripp

 

 

Today I heard a comment made about me behind my back. I started to turn around and look, but then
decided better of it and kept my eyes on the field. My wife hears things like this more often than I do,
because many of you don’t know who she is. She tells me what you say. I have received angry emails,
full of “suggestions,” about who should be playing where and how I… lost that day’s game for the kids. I
thought I’d write an open letter to all of you parents, even though I might never send it. I’ll start it this
way: “I am a volunteer.”

 

I’m the one who answered the call when the league said they didn’t have enough coaches. I understand
that you were too busy. I have some news for you. I’m not retired. I’m busy too. I have other children
and a job, just like you do. Not only do I not get paid to do this – it costs me money. I see you walk up to
the game 15 minutes after it started, still dressed for work. Do you know I’ve already been here over an
hour? Imagine if you had to leave work early nearly every day. I’ve never seen you at a practice. I’m sure
you’re plugging away at the office. But I’m out here, on the field, trying my best to teach these children
how to play a sport they love, while my bank account suffers.

 

I know. I make mistakes. In fact, maybe I’m not even that great of a coach. But I treat the kids fairly
and with respect. I am pretty sure they like coming to my practices and games, and without me or someone
like me, there’d be no team for them to play on. I’m part of this community too and it’s no picnic being
out here on this stage like this. It’s a lot easier back there with the other parents where no one is
second-guessing you.

 

And I also know you think I give my son or daughter unfair advantages. I try not to. In fact, have you
ever considered that maybe I’m harder on him than on the others? I’m sure he hears plenty of criticism
at school from classmates, who hear it from you at home, about what a lame coach I am. And if, even
unconsciously, my kids are getting a slight advantage because I know them better and trust their abilities,
is that the worst thing in the world, considering the sacrifice I’m making? Trust me, I want to win too.
And if your son or daughter could guarantee we’d do that, I’d give them the chance.

 

After this game is over, I’ll be the last one to leave. I have to break down the field, put away all the
equipment and make sure everyone has had a parent arrive to pick them up. There have been evenings
when my son and I waited with a player until after dark before someone came to get them. Many nights
I’m sure you’ve already had dinner and are relaxing on the couch by the time I finally kick the mud off
my shoes and climb into my car, which hasn’t been washed or vacuumed for weeks. Why bother cleaning
it during the season? Do you know how nice it would be if, just once, after a game one of you offered
to carry the heavy gear bag to my car or help straighten up the field?

 

If I sound angry, I’m not. I do this because I love it and I love being around the kids. There are plenty
of rewards and I remind myself that while you’re at the office working, your kid is saying something that
makes us all laugh or brings a tear to my eye. The positives outweigh the negatives. I just wish sometime
those who don’t choose to volunteer their time would leave the coaching to the few of us who do.

 

 

 

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