There is No “I” in Youth Sports

There is no “I” in youth sports. There is only “we”. Or, in some cases, there is only “the coach”.

Today was the last Youth Basketball game of the season for both Red Bull (12) and MelloYello (10). They are both fortunate to have had the same talented, patient and, dare I say, attractive coach. That would be my beloved ball and chain, Mr. Snark.

So what have we learned from playing youth basketball? Let’s discuss.

The players show up, play hard, and try to do their best. The learning curve is visible from week to week as their skills improve and their work as a team becomes apparent. They pass, they block, they defend, they shoot. They travel, they foul, they occasionally run the wrong way, they forget whom to cover, and they fling Hail Mary passes to no one in particular for no apparent reason. It’s all good.

The coaches generally do a fantastic job. They teach skills needed to move each player ahead to the next level. They encourage teamwork and self sacrifice to get the job done. Everyone is required to be a good sport and join the high five line up at the end of the game, no matter what the outcome. Yay, team! That’s why we showed up at 9:00 on a Saturday when we could have been home in bed watching Joan Rivers sell very demure yet gigantic costume jewelry on HSN.

There are those coaches, however, who coach their kids to become winners rather than teammates. I’m talking about coaching ten year-old girls and twelve year-old boys to go in for the kill. Coach Hannibal overplays his strongest players while others dawdle on the bench for the first three quarters. Coach Zithromax recruited the entire travel team (read: more highly trained and talented players) to play in the recreation league so they could decimate their opponents every single week. This is what we signed our kids up for? Good times. Yeah.

Today we played a group of tween girls who could shoot really well. But they had instead been instructed By Coach Norovirus to grab onto the ball with both hands whenever (every 15 seconds, no lie) it was within arms reach, wrapping themselves around it, sometimes literally hanging from it with their feet off of the ground. When one player wasn’t enough, several continued to pile onto the offensive player en masse until they pried it from her clenched fingers. They don’t call many fouls in this league, so the girls were left to defend themselves as best they could, hoping for a whistle in their favor. Or for a concerned mom to leap onto the court in their defense.  I showed great restraint and just limited myself to giving Coach Norovirus my “I’m very disappointed in you” mom stare from the bleachers. He continued to laugh blithely at each whistle while the patient and kind referee repeatedly explained to his players that it is not okay to physically wrap oneself around another player like a koala on crack.

Alas, basketball season is over. Soccer season is next on deck. Since basketball ended at 10:00 today, we have had plenty of time to rest up before our first soccer practice. Our first preseason practice (a MONTH preseason, which is more like pre-preseason if you asked me) was at 10:30 this morning. Which left a full 30 minutes for MelloYello to run home from basketball, put on some long underwear, fleece, cleats and mittens and run off to the soccer field. Her team has been bumped up to a more competitive bracket which equals more/longer/colder preseason practices. My son’s team managed to snag those coveted turf fields for both their practices and home games, so they will NEVER, EVER be cancelled. Not even in the event of sleet, driving rain, or a volcanic eruption. That is, after all, why God made turf. Isn’t it?

It all begins again. Go team.

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One comment on “There is No “I” in Youth Sports

  1. Amen brother! We have soccer playing boys. We played, for the first time, rec basketball two years ago in the winter. One of our twins broke down sobbing during the first practice. I stayed in my chair (painfully) and watched as he and the screaming coach learned some lessons. So, so many lessons that season. They loved the coach by the end. So happy they put their efforts this winter towards soccer…which means we’re traveling and playing in all weather but better behavior at least

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