There’s a lot of negativity, hatred, division, exclusion, stereotyping, and blanket statements filling the air. Sometimes we need to vent it out, because it’s beyond the ability of the majority of people to comprehend the evil that truly lives alongside of us. But action feels so much better than venting, arguing, or complaining because it feels like progress, it creates change, it gives us hope.
But what a monumental task that faces us in society! How can we possibly make a difference?
As coaches, we have an incredible opportunity to meet those that we work with every single day, the next generation, right where they are. To become a positive force, a vessel for inclusion, love, care, and mentorship. Of all the people out there, coaches and teachers have an incredible amount of influence on the next generation.
One life can touch so many lives. We must strive to make sure that any player who wants to have a chance to be developed, taught, mentored, and grow until they are ready to compete at a higher level has that chance just like anyone else. We need to protect the programs that provide opportunities at lower cost, in places outside of hotbeds, training for coaches, equipment and access to facilities. We need to make sure we don’t get caught up in only developing the “elite.”
We can’t lose the programs that allow kids who aren’t early bloomers, or the most athletically gifted, or are late starters a place to play. A place for the majority of kids- who aren’t going for a college scholarship but are looking for a chance to have fun competition, make friends, be healthy, and learn from a team experience. A quick look at the numbers will show that MOST kids are not going to be getting scholarships or going on to be professional athletes, but the programs built for them are disappearing rapidly.
We can build a caring relationship with each player on the team, regardless of skill level, aside from their performance, based completely on valuing that individual as a person. We can model and build a community for our athletes where different personalities, skill levels, backgrounds, goals can work together to reach new heights, become their own personal best alongside each other, and be a part of something bigger and with a purpose. Where each player’s unique qualities add to the success, dimmension, fun, and quality of a well rounded team.
There are a lot of lessons our kids take away from sports. It’s our job as coaches to make sure those lessons are translated into something positive that can help our kids build a future of tolerance, comradery, love, healthy competition, respect, perseverance, drive, and accomplishment. How to handle, recover from, and get better from difficult situations, disappointments, a loss. How to have character, show empathy, win humbly, and communicate effectively. How to lead, how to respectfully follow, how to serve, how to stay collected and focused under pressure, how to handle discomfort.
More than ever, coaches can change the world. So if you’re like me and feeling a little bit helpless at the hurt, suffering, hatred, intolerance out there, you have an opportunity to be an active part of the very large society of good we hear less about that is anxious to drive change. We have a place, a need, a duty, to create the change and positivity that is needed in our very circle starting right now. Every player, every team, every interaction, communication, decision, word choice. Coach with love, lead with love, train with love. There is no room to lead with fear, intimidation, anger, or dissapointment.
We can deliver through our actions the message our teams need, that we can win, with love.