To The Real Heroes Of Youth Sports; The Coaches

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coachesEvery Saturday lately has been a test in the mastery of the schedule. It’s had a few close calls, but no true crises were had. Our oldest two children are playing at least one rec sport in addition to their other activities. Their seasons are ending. While, yes, I’m excited not to be playing schedule Jenga each weekend, more than anything, I’m just grateful. I’m so thankful for the opportunity for my children to participate in rec sports. A quick Google search, social media scroll, or conversation with friends will find no shortage of click-worthy or reenactment stories of youth sports gone wrong: a brawl here, a temper tantrum there, and so much more. With increased competitiveness and the multi-billion-a-year industry that youth sports have become, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that youth sports and their coaches are a blessing to our children. So, as the early mornings give way in my family to slower Saturdays, I’m tipping my hat to the real heroes of rec sports; the coaches.

I decided to reengage with a sport that defined much of my youth: tennis. I am surprised at how much I have enjoyed getting back into the sport and relish my time on the court each week with my peers and instructors. I look forward to the opportunity each week to work to improve my athleticism and level of play. Equally enticing is the opportunity to interact and socialize with my peers. I realized the same is true of my own kids with youth sports. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report on the National Youth Sports Strategy report, youth who participate in youth sports are “healthier, have less body fat, and exhibit improved cognition and mental improvements.” Additionally, data shows that playing sports helps children “gain mental and social health benefits that follow them to adulthood.”

We still have a long way to go in the world of youth sports. The pay-to-play model and lack of programs in some parts of the country prevent many youths from being able to participate in youth sports. Increased competitiveness and poor sportsmanship are making it harder to find coaches and referees that make these programs possible. Still, I continue to be thankful for the real heroes of youth sports, the coaches.

So here’s to you, youth coaches:

Thank you for the countless hours you spend away from your family.

Thank you for the leadership you display on the field.

Thank you for helping them develop physical strength and skills.

Thank you for modeling sportsmanship.

Thank you for giving our kids a safe space to take risks and set goals.

Thank you for giving them a place to build friendships and belong, a place to be a part of a team.

Thank you for helping build up their confidence.

Thank you for helping our kids to understand the value of hard work.

Thank you for encouraging and challenging them to be the best they can be.

Thank you for all you do to help us provide our kids with opportunities to try new sports and develop new passions.

Thank you to the real heroes of youth sports.

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