Anonymous Various Sports/Coaching

What sport did you or your player compete or coach in?
Play: football, baseball, track, powerlifting
Coach: pop warner football
Tell us your athletic story and how it impacted you…
From a player’s perspective, sports gave me direction, a social life, and something to work towards. I never wanted to do any sport professionally, but I enjoyed the physicality and challenge that sports presented. Aside from the fun and challenges, sports taught me to work as a team, to get along with people I didn’t necessarily agree with or even like, and sports taught me how to lose and fail and use the failure to get better. I still “use” these experiences every day.As a coach, I learned a lot about other people. Even at a young age kids want to succeed, they want to improve, and as long as you treat them like people they will surprise you with the thing they will do and say. I learned a lot from coaching the kids – not just the natural athletes. All the kids. In a healthy and collaborative team environment, it’s amazing what can happen and how hard an 11-year-old will work just to get a little better.
How did you get yourself or your player through the tough times?
A lot of getting through tough times for me was just doing it – putting my head down and taking the next step. As Dory said, “just keep swimming”. For kids that I coached, sometimes it was a quick conversation – they’d ask a question, or I’d see a certain look in their eye and start chatting with them. Other times it was just being there. Knowing they’re going through something, letting them know that I know, and just being around.
What is the advice you would give to those currently competing/coaching/supporting?
Winning doesn’t matter. No matter your goals with a sport. It is fun to win, but you don’t learn much from winning. Learning to lose, learning to fail or fall and get then get back in there or stand back up feels a thousand times better than winning. It also helps you more throughout your life. I look at the stories of people or kids who have never lost a game and really hope that they don’t lose it when they get that first loss. Fail fast, fail often and use that to improve.
If you aren’t competing at the collegiate or professional level, tell us how no longer being an athlete impacted you? How are you or did you handle it?
I think the most difficult thing for me right away was the lack of schedule. When you’re a multi-sport athlete that starts their day early in the morning with whatever practice or workout and then ends their day late at night finishing homework that evening practice having all those hours scheduled for you makes things easy. When that goes away and you have to be accountable to yourself to get things done, it can be overwhelming and frustrating. The first couple days are great – lots of swimming and lake/beach time – but after that, you’ve got to start figuring out what you’re going to do and where you need to be.
If you are no longer a coach or no longer have an athlete in the house tell us what you have done since the question of “what now?” came into your life…
Talked a lot about what “should” be happening. It’s an odd situation, similar to being an athlete with their days full of practice and workouts, when you have been working with or raising kids and they’re not around anymore. I kind of felt like I did something wrong. I would wait for things to happen that never did – I kind of figured if it was supposed to happen it would – the thing is I don’t even know what that something was. Now, I’ve gotten into a little schedule and have started working on hobbies projects to keep me busy and entertained. I’m still feeling a little adrift, but less so. I think it’s just going to take some time to get into a place where I’m comfortable. It hasn’t been like this for almost 20 years. So it’s going to take a little time to figure out I suppose.

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