Put Me in Coach!

Girls playing soccer on sports field

A Tribute to National Youth Sports Week

By Michal Lloyd

Our nation is celebrating National Youth Sports week from July 20-26. In honor of this observance, here is my take on the value of sports. My dad is a huge sports fan. So, athletics has always been a big part of my life. 

I love the stories. I love sleepy afternoons listening to golf as the announcer whispers me to sleep. I really missed the sound of sports during the height of the Coronavirus surge. Life just felt better when the games came back. Team sports are like battle without the bloodshed, with nachos and a beverage of your choice thrown in. 

The Greeks had mythology. We have leaders, angels, and saints, but American culture also has amazing athletes cultivated and sculpted by our country’s best coaches. Achilles was the greatest warrior the Greeks ever had, part man and part god. He faced losing his speed and strength in blissful old age or going to battle, where the gods prophesized he would die young in the Trojan War as the greatest warrior that ever lived.  Ultimately, he couldn’t imagine a life as an ordinary man and chose to go deep.

That is what athletics is about. You are confronted with your own limitations. As a parent, involving your kids in sports helps them take ownership of their own health and fitness. It teaches them the value of good nutrition, sleep, hard work, and striving toward goals.

To be a good athlete you have to be honest with yourself and continually reevaluate what you are doing to get better. Athletics is the process of measuring yourself against your goals. It requires brutal honesty. 

Both gods and athletes can’t do it alone. They need to learn the basics.  Achilles had Charon, half-man, half-horse, to teach him the ropes. The Green Bay Packers had Vince Lombardi. Our children have us for guidance, encouragement, and car rides. Great coaches and parents need strategies and seldom face a game without a plan. Coaches teach us to go back to the basics like when my dad would demonstrate how to put on our shoes and socks at the beginning of each season. As a kid, I thought OMG. What is he putting me through?

This is a trick he most likely learned from UCLA coach Wooden. Dad would say to make sure your shoes are tied and that there aren’t any wrinkles in your socks because if you get blisters, then you can’t practice, then you don’t get better, and you end up quitting. The foundation is essential. 

As parents, we are coaches. We can try to teach motivation and responsibility, but let the game or the work teach itself. They won’t even notice they are learning.

Want more information on how to coach your child on and off the field? Check out these resources below: