New Castle News

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June 26, 2014

Tim Kolodziej: Coaching is often thankless, so let me say ‘thank you’

NEW CASTLE — Thankless.

That’s what it is.

And little league coaches know that.

So hearing “thank you” is not why they do it.

It’s not why they sit through endless meetings to decide draft order, league guidelines and playoff matchups.

It’s not why they arrive 90 minutes before a game to get the field ready.

It’s not why they stay afterward to rake the dirt, lock away supplies and clean up the mess in the dugout.

No, parents, they really don’t need any thanks for all the time they put in.

That’s not why they do it.

But sometimes, they just wish more people would “get it.”

Your kid.

It’s not about your kid.

There are 10 or 11 others on his team. And they are someone’s child, too.

Maybe their parents are telling them they are the best player on the squad.

Maybe their parents are telling them they should bat third instead of seventh.

Maybe their parents are telling them they should play shortstop, despite a very real risk of them ending up in an emergency room if they would.

No, it’s not about your kid.

It’s about THE KIDS. All 11 of them, or however many make up the roster.

Sure, “Daddy Ball” comes into play now and then. Makes sense. The latest statistics show that 85 percent of all youth coaches have a child on their team.

But don’t buy into the myth that little league coaches are only in it so their son can make all-stars. I just don’t see that very often.

No, parents, they don’t need a “thank you” for any phone calls, bad attitudes and other headaches they put up with.

That’s not why they do it.

They just want more people to “get it.”

So, rec league coaches, as the sun sets on another season, let me be the first to say “thank you.”

For everything.

I really hope I’m not the first, but I’ve been around youth sports long enough to know that many parents take a coach for granted. Some take out their anger on him. And only a few express gratitude.

So, again, I thank you ...

•For teaching our kids that running out a fly ball in the infield will show them that it’s important to finish what you start. Even on the most routine plays, if you just keep your head down and go full steam, every once in a while you catch a break and arrive safely.

•For teaching our kids that they’re ALWAYS leading. The only question is HOW. Throwing a bat, a helmet or a tantrum on the field are unacceptable. And someone is always watching.

•For teaching our kids that you NEVER want to watch a third strike go by. If you’re going to go down, go down swinging. No regrets. No excuses. You did your best. And you can live with that.

•For teaching our kids that if the umpire called it a strike, it’s a strike. If he didn’t, it isn’t. Always respect the man in blue. Always respect authority.

•For teaching our kids that it’s OK to try different positions. It may not be the role they desired, but they learned how to adapt to new situations and responsibilities. More important, it taught them how to be a better team player.

•For teaching our kids to encourage their teammates — and not disparage the opponent. If the tongue has the power of life and death, I want my kid to speak life.

•For teaching our kids that, sometimes, you didn’t even need to teach them anything. You were simply there to greet them with a fist bump and a smile when they arrived. You were there to give them a high five when they rounded the bases. And you were there to pat them on the rump when their time on the mound didn’t go so well. You were simply “there.” And “there” is a place where I always want my kid’s coaches to be.

You know, it’s been said often that diamonds are forever.

That may be true. But I’m also discovering that some lessons learned while playing on a diamond may be just as timeless — and even more priceless.

So thank you, coaches, for teaching us that.

In 20 years, I’ll have no clue how many games my son’s team may have won this season. But I’ll know exactly what traits it takes to be a winner.

Yessir. After another spring of watching you coach our kids, I “get it.”

Better yet, I think the kids are “getting it,” too.


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