I know there are times as a parent of a student athlete you feel like, “man this is crazy”. It could be because your student athlete is learning a new skill and it is causing some anguish, for you not them. It could be a heartbreaking loss or two. But a lot of times, especially for softball parents, every two years seems to bring that feeling of “crazy” and it is because the move up to the next age level is never really clear.
I get it, heck a lot of times as a coach, I have been a big part of parents feeling great about the next move or because of my decision to continue coaching their kids, I have also been the reason some parents have felt like things were crazy.
I remember about ten years ago, when I was coaching my younger daughter’s 12 and under team and I decided to keep her at her proper age group instead of moving her up to 14’s with most of the girls that were on the team. I wanted my daughter to experience playing with her own age instead of playing up like she had been doing since she was 9. Well, you would have thought I intentionally set out to ruin the experience for the parents of my kids that had to move up. Some of those parents accused me of trying to make it tough on them and some let me know that I was not being fair to them or their kid. However, those players, although some were sad, and even hurt a little, were resilient, they not only survived, they went on to thrive in their next experience, using the things learned from our time together to create the experience they wanted on their next team.
I often say sports mirror life, and in this way, it is so true because the experience of going to tryouts, meeting new players and coaches, having to prove yourself all over again builds character and teaches skills that they will need for the rest of their life.
I get that it is not easy for the parents, but that will never change. Just this week we put our youngest daughter on a plane to Tokyo for a six-week study abroad summer program, our middle daughter flew to New Orleans with her boyfriend who is moving there with his mom, to see how she likes it and my oldest daughter’s husband left for Mexico to resume his fledgling baseball career thus leaving her a single mom again all while she gets ready to start her Master’s in nursing program right after Memorial day. So as parents our anguish, concern for our kids and their next move never ends.
But I truly believe because of athletics, having the experience of trying out and needing to work hard and prove yourself is an important life learning experience.
The fact that my daughters received transformational coaching, were taught dream building skills, learned how to set goals and create action plans, helped them to gain the confidence to do the things that they are doing now all because of what they learned thru the ups and downs of youth athletics. It too shall pass.