We treat them like men and expect them to be tough but they are still someone’s little boy. And this morning, for many of them, their hearts are bruised and broken.
Can we live without sports? Yes, of course. We did that for a time. But, if we learned anything from last season, it’s that this is more than just a game.
I want my children to learn through you that one person can make a difference and that the most effective way to lead is not through words, but through one’s actions.
So parents, I write this to implore you: we're losing good ones. Good coaches and good teachers are leaving the profession because it's so hard to do it with integrity.
I sat in that gym while my husband played basketball with my favorite teenager for hours after practice. No talking, no crying, just turning all his emotions into jump shots and the world’s biggest hug when we took him home. That’s all he needed.
You’ll miss the squeak of your sneakers on the court, the way your practice jersey smells by Wednesday, the unique taste of your sweat from the free-throw line. You’ll miss the bus rides and the gas station snacks, team dinners and locker room banter.
We have been a part of some teams where I think all of the above affected the players’ willingness to approach me. BUT if I am on the field at the end of the game and have something sweet, all of sudden I’m not big and bad and scary.
Next, there is a time and a place for this conversation. It is not now, not after a game, no matter the outcome. It is not while his family, friends, colleagues, and community are watching. Not in the middle of the field or outside the locker room. Certainly not at the volume you are speaking; the time and the place is not now.
If I was you, I would try supporting these men that give their energy, time, passion and love to your children ... using football as a tool to prepare them for life. Especially when your son is with the coach more than you. Get to know them, how you can help, get to know their families sitting next to you in the stands. I’m sorry if they made a play call you disagree with; they have quite a bit on their plate.
It truly is a special thing to see when teammates and coaches come alongside their hurting brother and lift them up.
Always remember that I learn from the examples that I see. You are my first heroes and who I want to be when I grow up. Please set out large shoes for me to fill. I am counting on you.
I look for her now. I’ll glance at the stands and see if she’s there. She’s forever my reminder that supporting the ones we love is the only reason any of us should be there. I try to take her enthusiasm, authenticity, and gratitude and tuck it into my soul, remember there is something about love that gets amplified by sports.
If professional athletes are unable to create a healthy balance with athletics and social media, why would we expect high school students to avoid the hunger of this approval from fans?
So when you come home to visit your family, don’t forget to come visit ours too. If you’re passing our house on the way out of town and you think about pulling in the driveway, do it. That bonus room in the new house is being built with you boys in mind—a place where the boys can always gather. And if you come to a game, you better give me a hug.
My professional training is as a mental health therapist so I assume that is why we have received quite a few of these phone calls from coaching colleagues over the years. Through our own difficult experiences and those of others, I am hopeful that I may be able to share some tips here that can help your family navigate these tragic situations with a little more secure footing.
Mostly though, Seniors, I want you to remember that your place at our dinner table is still there and we are always a phone call away. We understand that family ties are not exclusively created with blood, and we are always happy to welcome teammates back home.
Thank you to the dad who poured his entire can of Pepsi on my son’s leg because he got into some poison ivy in hopes the acid would maybe stop a reaction.
Thank you to the parents who see me struggling to carry two children and half my house to my seat and offer to help.
The ones who scoop my three-year-old up and says, "I have him, he can sit with us tonight”.
Hey Coach, I gotta’ tell you, the thing I’ve been trying to figure out
How do I keep my heart soft to love these boys while protecting it from the crowd?
You get the best of the man who loves the game, but cares about your character more. While most of the world sees you as wins and loses and what you did right and what you messed up, he sees the man you can become. He sees your strengths, but he also takes the time to help you improve your weaknesses.
And then, the script flipped. I am a big proponent of changing perspective, especially when things have me down in the dumps. And that’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago to turn our season—mentally and emotionally—around.