Date of publishing: 10th August 2016
*Football Coach at Manassas High School, a story that inspired a Hollywood film—Undefeated—which won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary.*
What challenges have you faced by attempting to increase the level of parental involvement?
We have all had struggles with parents if we have coached for any time at all. In some instances, apathy is a problem that results in kids missing practice, being late, or showing up improperly outfitted. In other, instances, the exact opposite can become challenging with mouthy parents or those that seem to want to relive their old glory days through their kid’s play. On any of these or other occasions that parent’s become detrimental or distracting to the kids or the team, a simple meeting takes place where the parent is shown a copy of the paper that they signed at the preseason meeting and reminded of their roles and responsibilities.
Have you seen a difference in players when parental involvement is embraced not neglected and/or ignored?
This question is far-reaching and I could write a book about this one question. But, in general, when healthy, proper parental involvement in present, there is no doubt that the program, the league, the team, and the players benefit exponentially from it. Conversely, when the parents are apathetic towards involvement, there is simply no way a coach can fill all the roles that should be filled with parental help and thusly the experience is not as full for the kids on the team. But, again, the parental involvement must be managed and they must understand their roles, the important roles, but also the limits of their roles so as not to create a distraction.
What advice would you give coaches that are unsure and/or afraid about increasing parental involvement within youth sports?
Have as parental meeting, spell out all that needs to happen on the front end, and then hold yourself, your program, your team and your parents accountable to those lists of responsibilities. Handle it, on the front end and rarely is there an issue that can’t be managed quickly if needed.
For those parents unaware of their influential role within youth sports, what advice would you give them?
There is a difference between being hurt and being injured. One you are to pick yourself up and fright through, the other you go to the hospital.
Learning to sacrificing for the teammate next to you as a young athlete will make you a better parent and spouse.
Working very hard and playing by the rules does mean you get a starting position or trophy just because you tried hard. But, you still get to look in the mirror every morning and be proud of yourself for the effort.
Failing at a discipline on Monday just means that on Tuesday’s practice you fail less and by Friday you conquer it. This will make you the employee that gets the raise because it isn’t the failure that defines you, it’s the response to it that does.
These are but 4 of the hundreds of lessons that properly run team youth sports programs will teach that hopefully serve kids long after their playing days are over. These are also the lessons that the vast majority of parents want their children to learn. Team youth sports offer a parent an opportunity for their children to see and feel these lessons and have them reinforced in the home.
What is next for you as a coach/club/organisation?
Just keep going
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Thank you Bill for taking the time to complete the following interview questions.
The Sporting Resource