New Castle News

November 3, 2011

Tim Kolodziej: A trick-or-treat lesson about your passion to play

Tim Kolodziej
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — “Can we go home now?”

That question pops up every trick-or-treat night, like clockwork, as I accompany my son on his annual monster stomp for Snicker’s and Starburst.

You see, our neighborhood just doesn’t do the trick for Halloween treats. Although the stash on our street is both good and plenty and the candy is “big-bar” quality, we often wander good distances and venture into areas that aren’t as familiar.

Tons of walking.

Tons of knocking.

It’s never enough.

So, about halfway into the customary two-hour ghosting period, the question always arises: “Can we go home now?”

Then, it’s usually ...

“I’m tired. ... My feet hurt. ... Can’t we start eating the candy now?”

In the past, a little fatigue and a few blisters have never stopped us. We always go hard from buzzer to buzzer.

But this year was different. Frigid air and a steady rain on our faces made it a true fright night to be outside.

Yet there was something even more bizarre about this year: It wasn’t me belly-aching this time. It was my son who wanted to head for home.

What? An elementary-aged boy who’s kookoo for candy saying “enough” after just an hour of walking the streets?

Talk about scary.

I empathized, but I ignored his request. In the back of my mind I knew this could be our last trick-or-treat night together. Next year, he might be too cool to be seen with me.

I had to think quickly. So I started pulling out motivational tactics to keep the evening alive. After all, who needs “Dr. Lou” when “Desperate Dad” will do?

• “Let’s walk a little faster and you’ll warm up a bit.”

• “There aren’t a lot of kids out tonight. I bet if we keep going you’ll get even more candy than usual.”

• “We have to go to the Smiths. They really want to see your costume.”

• “Let’s try that house. I heard they give out entire bags of goodies! Sometimes even money!”

• “C’mon, do it for your old man!”

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Everything I tried, failed.

We walked home.

He was now a happy camper.

I was experiencing a sugar crash.

So, what’s the lesson in all of this for young athletes and youth coaches? It’s a very simple one: Even the sweetest reward, the best motivational approaches or the pushiest parents can’t make a player do something he or she doesn’t really want to do.

In other words, you have to love the sport to truly excel at the sport.

If you don’t, you aren’t going to train as hard as you could. You aren’t going to play as hard as you could. And you aren’t going to chase the dream if all the hours, sweat and sacrifice feel more like a nightmare to you.

Or, worst of all, if you resent your mom and dad because they keep forcing you to play.

So, do you have the love? Are you really playing the game for all the right reasons?

If not, you’re simply taking someone else’s spot.

If you don’t love it, it’s time to leave it.

If your heart isn’t in it, there’s no sense putting on a mask and pretending to be someone you’re not.

So regardless of what you might hear otherwise, you can go home. You can leave the trophies and the gear behind. And you can pursue what you truly desire to do off the field.

Like a belly filled with candy, that’s pretty sweet, too.