Welcome to my first blog post from the “other side of the fence.” I thought this would be a fun place to share my experiences as a sports mom and sometimes as the Coach’s wife. I have the privilege of raising three amazing boys ages 19, 15 and 11 with my awesome hubby. Each one has played flag football, tackle football, basketball, baseball, and soccer. My youngest two currently play baseball for their school team, a travel league, and a showcase team.
It’s ironic that I am a sports mom because I do not like sports. But I do love watching anything my boys are involved in so I enjoy watching sports when they are playing.
We have always started them out in rec leagues. My husband is a sports guy. He played sports in high school and played college baseball. He has coached high school, to rec leagues to travel ball and has coached a lot of our sons’ teams as well. When it comes to making sports decisions, I have always followed his lead. Don’t get me wrong, I do share my opinion.
We are always being asked how we do what we do! What I share is not expert advice. I am by no means an expert, well maybe at cleaning baseball pants!
So I would like to share our family belief system when it comes to sports. I think it is important for a sports family to have a set of rules that you share with your children. This is a great way for you to share with them your expectations and also let them know you are there to support them as well.
- Choose your sport. We do not choose for them. We do not tell them what sport to play.
- One sport per season. We only let them play one sport per season. Sometimes there has been an overlap because of one season ending and another one starting.
- Be a team player. We believe that being on a team and playing sports is a great experience for them. It is a great opportunity to teach them when you are on a team there is no “I”
- Downtime is important too. We also believe that it is important for them to have down time as well. We want them to just be a kid for as long as they can.
- No travel teams until middle school. We have always steered away from travel teams until middle school age. That is until our youngest started playing his last year of elementary school. We chose this path because he was showing a strong interest in playing a higher level and had the maturity to handle it. Many travel teams can be very cut throat and a win at all costs attitude. This is not necessary at this age and we picked a team that met our philosophy. Development of the player is paramount in our opinion. We made sure there was a limit to the numbers of games that would be played during the season and that the coaching of fundamentals was going to be stressed at the practices. Too many games and little or no development of the player are show stoppers for us. We are investing time and money into this journey and want to make sure there is a benefit to that.
- No showcase team until high school. Once they get to High School and they want to take it to the next level, playing on a showcase team is an option. We feel that if playing more competitively is something that they want to do and the boys demonstrate the ability to perform at a higher level, then we are willing to support that. It is also very important that player development is continued at this level as well. We do not believe in the philosophy that you just show up and play. If there are not structured practices that emphasize player development, to us even showcase baseball is a waste of time and money.
- Respect the coaches. We have taught our boys to respect their coaches on and off the field. It is important to teach your children that your coach is the one who makes decisions. I know that it is hard sometimes for parents as we find ourselves coaching from the stands or coaching them when they get in the car on the drive home. Teaching your children to listen to their coaches, even if you may not agree, is very important as they need to learn to respect the coaches decision. When they are on a team everyone needs to work together. It is also important not to criticize the coach in front of your child or let your child know that you did not like the coach’s decision. Your child becomes can become confused and they are not sure if they should listen to you or their coach. You want your child to be “coachable”. This is something that will fare them well as they advance in their journey. I can remember a time when we were nervous for one of our son’s as he was trying out for a new team. We were not worried so much about his ability, because we take the stance that if the coach decides he is not a good fit for the team, then we have to respect that. Being a new team, we weren’t really sure what they coaches were looking for in respect to personalities. When the coaches told us that he had a good try out, that he worked hard, and he listened to what was asked of him, we were pleased to hear this.
- Have a good attitude. We have taught them that it is ok to be upset over a mistake, but it is not ok to throw equipment and pout about it. Attitude has just as much power as skill.
- Learn to lose. You have to learn to lose in order to win! This is not an easy one because no one likes to lose. We say this only because of experience with our oldest son. When he first started out his high school career he started out with a brand new high school, which meant a whole new baseball program with only freshman and sophomores. Not an easy position to be in and let’s just say they definitely lost more than they won. We watched our son grow so much from this experience. He was a left handed pitcher and he was brought up on the Varsity team as a freshman to pitch for them. You could see the fear in his face. There is a big difference in a freshman versus junior and senior and he would get out on the mound and as he looked to the plate there stood “big ben” so to speak from his perspective. My son was also one of the smaller guys on the team, so he was intimidated by their size. He spent his freshman year working through all of that, because he soon realized that if he was going to have success on the mound he needed to just get out there and pitch. I can remember a game where he pitched against Carlos Rodon (Former North Carolina State star pitcher and #3 overall pick in the 2014 MLB Amatuer Draft)! Carlos was a senior and our son was a little freshman. Well Carlos hit a home run so far we joke all the time with him that we are still waiting for the ball to come back down to earth. At the time my son did not think it was cool, but now seeing what Carlos Rodon has accomplished it is pretty cool experience. It was hard for him to keep losing game after game that year, but he continued to give it his all. By his sophomore year he was on top and had worked through all of that self-doubt and he was chosen as rookie of the year for his conference. Yes, his ability was there but I can tell you the fact that he had to learn to dig deep and not give in to the “losses” is what taught him how to be a true winner! My son has always pitched with passion and everyone loves watching his energy on the field and that to us is success.
- Smile and have fun!
Bill and I see the value of sports beyond athleticism. Working hard, being a good sport, being a good loser—all valuable skills in life. We want to see each of them grow as a person just as much as getting better at their sport.
See YOU on the other side of the fence!
PS – This picture is from when my guys were little and the older two were already playing ball with Dad as the coach!