We have stories like this going on all over the world. I would love it if you sent me one or two that I can use on the show. This stories inspire people or serve as warnings, and they keep the focus on the stuff that really matters in youth sports!
Our first story came from a tweet earlier this week. A listener of this show wrote me:
I’d love your thoughts on this. Today, I experienced a broken child because a referee was saying negative things about him during the game; one statement in particular that he was trash. What would be your response? How should this be handled?
Dr. Timeka Cline - Principal of an Elementary School in Georgia
How ridiculous is it for a referee to call a player "trash" in a game. I know many referees who would find this a violation of trust and respect. I can't imagine any adult considering this acceptable behavior. This referee need to be reported to their Assignor and to league officials. In the episode, I describe my full advice to Dr. Cline.
Every community is full of good eggs. There are many more good eggs than bad apples. In this case, a soccer parent from my own club wrote me with the following:
A few weeks ago, our 5-year-old son Christian, had a rough game day. He felt like he couldn’t get to the ball, thought nobody wanted to play with him, he kept saying “I can’t do this”. My husband, Christian’s older sister, and I kept cheering him on, asking him to keep trying, to help his teammates because they needed him, to no result. He looked really sad, he cried, it was just a bad day. His coach was incredibly patient and observed, tried to engage him as much as he could. Christian wasn’t responding to it. That coach never gave up on him even for a second. He showed compassion, encouragement and understanding, and finished that day still showing Christian that he was an important person there. It just wasn’t a good day after all, but we thanked him so much for trying so hard to help.
We know kids are resilient, but nobody wants to see their kid having a sad day.
The following weekend, it looked like that same coach was ready for Christian. We noticed he put some strategies into practice that were really engaging. He had Christian (and all other players) doing designated tasks such as kick starting a few different times. He was fun, funny and also addressed the players by their names. They loved their goal celebrations, and there was Christian, at this time running, passing, and scoring, with a smile on his face. He looked confident, happy, and all because that coach, that volunteer coach, put a lot of energy into helping him, and was able to bring him out of his little limbo. We naturally thanked him again, to which he responded “See? Much better, right? I knew he would”.
I wanted to bring to your attention how much our family appreciates that volunteer coach. Each family has their our stories, the behind the scenes, the challenges, and having that one person, a volunteer, who legitimately believes in your child, will always have a major impact. Not only on a Saturday 5-year-old soccer game, but as he grows and builds his character based on the impression that coaches like his coach left that day.
(See attached picture - the coach with the team - Christian is on the far right) (See photo above)