My children are very active in groups sports and have been for years. My husband, a saint in anyone’s book, has coached both of their soccer teams since, well, forever. And I have been managing or volunteering in some capacity right along with him.
We are ALL IN when in comes to group sports. One son is on a travel league. The other is on a recreation league. My husband is assistant coach to both teams. I am helping with managing the travel league. (Way more paperwork and details!)
It takes a lot to fire us up. And, people, we ARE fired up.
Our soccer league recently merged with two others and in doing so made some radical changes. I’m not involved or interested in the minutia of those changes and I am generally not critical of other’s decisions.
I want to send a wake up call to the folks in charge. And this goes for anyone running a sports program or league of any nature: Fairness is important. Treatment of others is important. Acknowledgment is important. IT MATTERS. The little things MATTER to kids and their parents.
The travel kids get two practice jerseys along with two lavish uniforms (shirt/pants) made out of stellar material in two colors with socks to match in coordinating colors. Our recreation kids get one t-shirt to wear to all practices and games. ONE COTTON T-SHIRT.
Our head coaches get mesh jerseys, a future stipend and their child’s league fees paid for. Our assistant coaches get ONE COTTON T-SHIRT. (Yeah, no matter how many teams they assist.)
It sends a message:
- We are not really concerned about you.
- You are an afterthought.
My son is in a recreation league because he loves it and to help bolster his self esteem. As I’ve mentioned before, he has a learning disability and school is hard for him. Soccer is where he finds friends and feels like he is a part of something away from the taunts of the school yard. Before the merger, he didn’t know he was “just a rec player.” He just knew he was a part of a great league. Now, with new changes differentiating travel from rec, it has become blatantly obvious to him that he isn’t good enough. GEE, THANKS. Not that we expect a travel uniform but, really? A little effort would have been nice. You know, so he feels like an actual player again.
My husband spends five days a week and countless hours on the soccer field. Just like the head coaches, he loves each one of those kids and makes sure that he shows them how special and important they are. He attends all of the mandatory meetings. A little acknowledgment (even in the form of a coaches shirt) would be nice.
So, again, for those of you who manage a league or sports program, take my words to heart. The details matter in ways you might not expect. (A child’s self esteem, perhaps? Devoted volunteers who feel like you give a hoot?) Fairness is important. Treatment of volunteers is important. Acknowledgment is important. The little things MATTER to kids and their parents.