The Power of a Coach #jacob

I’ve had the pleasure of watching my son interact with a phenomenal coach starting with the regular 2016 little league season and continuing through our last two All-Star seasons.  Never having experienced organized sport’s coaching myself, I avoid being overly critical of these hard working, volunteer coaches.  I inherently understand the value of a good coach but not the specifics or the complexity of that relationship.

Through my son, I am understanding.  And my heart is full to bursting.

Trust comes first.  Trust that the athlete is taken care of physically.  Working kids too hard is unacceptable.  Trust that the athlete is taken care of emotionally.  We’re talking about kids.  Pre-adolescent boys who get distracted, can be overly boastful, forget things, act goofy, hide their emotions and sometimes cry.  It’s a complicated time.  Trust that the adult understands the sport, understands the 12-year old version of the sport and understands how to get the best out of these young men.

Love comes next.  Love for kids (even the goofy, forgetful ones).  Love for the game.  Love for the ups and the downs of competition.  I know that tough love has a place here somewhere but even through the difficult parts of coaching, your outward expression is about confidence in your athletes, believing in them and then turning that page and moving forward.

Here’s where things get unique for my son and this coaching journey I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing.  He would walk on water for this coach.  He looks to this man first when he finishes an inning, he checks in with this adult first upon arriving at practice, he looks forward to seeing him most over teammates and fans.  And when this particular coach isn’t there, he’s in Jacob’s ear.  His impact is profound.

And what of his other coaches?  Wonderful human beings.  Lovely, knowledgeable, caring adults–all three.  I would choose this trio of coaches for every kid.  But there’s a unique bond for my son with this one individual.

Connection is the third part.  Whatever conversation, joke, experience forged this bond, I am thankful.  And more importantly, I wish this connection for every kid, for every activity through their life.  I’m deeply invested in our local Mentoring nonprofit and I believe this is what we hope to orchestrate through our Mentoring matches.  It often works but sometimes does not.  We want every child to have a quality adult who shows up, listens and believes in that child.  Parents do this.  But there’s something else going on when it’s not a relative.  It’s a choice, not an obligation.

Belief is the final piece.  Belief in Jacob’s ability even when Jacob doesn’t feel it himself.  Belief that he can fulfill his role on the team when he’s in his worst slump.  When’s the last time someone said, “I believe in you.”  I can’t recall a time.  Jacob has the benefit of this constant, heartfelt, realistic vote of confidence.  And as much as I love my son and see his athletic ability, I don’t have the same power to build him up.  It’s different.

So coaching matters.   I understand more fully now and have loved watching it happen.  We had our final loss of Jacob’s little league career last night.  I was devastated.  It means we’re turning a page.  My heart is heavy.  But even as Jacob was pitching his final inning, when he needed confidence, I watched him mimic his coach’s wide spread arms and deep breath.  In unison.  Set.  Ready.

And after the game, after the clapping and tears and hugs…. his coach found him in the parking lot.  “Hold your head high,” he said.  And Jacob did.

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Thank you, Darrin.  Photo credit: Dwight Sugioka

 

 

 

 

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The Teen Years & Summer Fun

Summer break with a 13 and 15 year old.  Where to begin?

I’m not a mom that LOVED the baby stage or toddler years.  Every stage had it’s special moments, memories and milestones but I don’t ever WISH to be back in any of them.  At this point I can say I prefer relating to my sons over caring for them (as I did when they were little boys).  Our conversations, their connections, the ah-ha moments of adolescence are awesome.  Truly developing into adults, citizens of the world, opinion holders and discussion participants.  I love this time.

So what with this budding independence comes the push and pull of summer.  We’ve never been big on scheduling our kids summer time.  One, maybe two day camps in their lifetimes.  Our summer days are best spent hatching a plan the night before or morning of.  What do you feel like doing today?

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Post-Conservatory Pic

Until now.  The teen years have brought nesting, hiding out, hermit-like qualities.  I don’t care for it.  So the prompt has shifted to So today we’re going to either do A or B.  Which do you prefer?

So far so good.

Example 1: So today we’re going to the Conservatory of Flowers or the Beach.  Which do you prefer?  The Q & A begins.  What will we do at the Beach?  How long will we be there?  What’s a Conservatory?  Is Japantown nearby?  Ok, let’s go there.  Decision based on lunch options.  These are definitely my children.

Example 2: So today we’re going to walk the Golden Gate Bridge or head to the Beach.  Which do you prefer?  Same kind of Q & A.  Breakfast was negotiated into the beach trip.  And the drive to Doran only resulted in 4 identifiable road kill specimens (the record is 14).

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Frisbee at Doran Beach

And so it goes.  I love this time I get to spend with my kids.  Quality time, laughing, learning, settling arguments, getting slow and steady peeks into what they love, what they believe and who they are.

Each of them keep track of the time.  Jacob likes to get to baseball practice 30 minutes early, and Joshua has reading to do for his World History class.  Both of their evening commitments build in a need for downtime without their mom pestering.

Oh, and chores.  A reality of life at Casa Haugen.  On the mornings I go into work, the list is longer but when we have a plan for our day, we cut back on chores.  It works.

So this approach to our summer days works.  It’s a nice ebb and flow that makes my heart happy.