Oct. 6 was National Coaches Day.
During my youth, I was involved in many sports and experienced a multitude of coaches. Some with amazing coaching and interpersonal skills, and some I just wanted to “accidentally” hit with the discus I was throwing.
Athletics started at a young age and ended with my graduation from high school. First came acrobatics at the Plummer House about the age of 4 which transitioned to gymnastics through the age of 14. After middle school, came volleyball, basketball for one year (I was terrible) and track all the way through high school.
Not only did our dad teach school and own a business, he also was a coach for the Mayo girls swim team. So, not only did I experience coaches outside of the home, I was raised by one as well.
Oddly, with dad being a swim coach and a competitive swimmer his entire life, it was one sport we never competed in as kids. Plenty of time was spent in pools and around pools, however. When my daughter turned 6 or so, she began swimming competitively, and up until the time he died, it was a sport my dad and daughter shared and loved.
Coaches have a tremendous impact on young people, but I wonder if the kids know the impact they have on coaches?
Jessica France, one of my daughter’s swim coaches, said the best part of coaching is, “The kids. They taught me more than I ever taught them.”
Because she did not want to sacrifice missing her own kids’ extracurricular activities, Jessica is no longer coaching, but misses it a lot. She misses seeing the progression between the first and last day of practice within a season and that includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth.
“I miss knowing, without a doubt, that every kid who walked on to a pool deck where I was coaching had at least one adult who truly cared for them in their lives, because I absolutely did, regardless of their swimming talent or duration of their athletic career," Jessica said. "In addition, I miss the families who were there for the seasons and the ones who still keep in touch today.”
In saying coaches make an impact, it goes beyond allowing kids to have fun and experience wins and losses. Young people look to their coaches for guidance and positivity. Coaches help develop coping skills, whether a win or a loss. Learning how to make a play or win graciously is a valuable skill that is taken from childhood through adulthood. Humility versus showboating goes a long way. The same goes for losing and learning how to handle disappointment. Just think of what they learn from strategizing, making mistakes and how to adjust “on the fly.” All of these skills develop resiliency in children.
My own children have been in swimming, ballet, basketball, volleyball, softball, football, trap shooting and golf, so that makes a lot of coaches in their lives as well.
Four of my kids were lucky to have a personal swim coach in my dad, but there are others who made a difference to them as well.
“It was the coaches that put up with my ‘surly’ looks and attitudes that impacted me the most," Lindsey said. "I had coaches who got down on one knee, looked me in the eye and were kind when I needed it the most. And, I had coaches who told me to turn my anger into passion for the sport, and that taught me positivity.”
If coaching is your line of work, never forget the difference you can make in the life of a child or young adult.
Kristen Asleson is owner of Midwest Virtual Assistants. Send comments and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.