Job of coaches is to be role model to kids, not teach worst kinds of behavior

rugby practiceThis column has to do with the U15 game on April 28 and the acts/language of the other team and their coaches.

I guess the rest of the world has come to Pelham Rugby. Over the years, I have done my best to shield the program and the kids from things that have become all too common in youth sports. Overreacting coaches, parents and kids.

I read/hear the stories of the way adults act at some kids games, and it makes me cringe. Yelling at kids, cursing and general boorish behavior should have no place in youth sports. The whole idea is to encourage kids to try something new, find something they enjoy, teach them the basics of the game and hope they like it enough to come back. It is not the place for adults to live out their fantasies about how much they know the sport, or how great they are, or even their attempts to prove their self worth by having their team win. At the end, no one cares if you win, lose or draw. It really is about how you coached the game.

Are you a good role model to the kids? That’s the best question. Have the kids learned how to react in the face of adversity in a way that will help them? Or have they learned the way to react is to yell, scream and blame everyone else?

Last night’s U15 game was a wonderful experience for the players. We had several kids who were nursing injuries and one player who had spent the weekend sick. They really did “step up.” It was great to see them not react and be drawn into a fight by the other team. It was also very good to see that despite some questionable calls on the other sideline by the Union coaches, our kids did not get frustrated and react in a bad way. They kept playing the game and that resulted in winning. No excuses were going to be allowed, and no excuses were being presented.

The U15 win meant a lot to me. Not because they won the game, but because of how they won the game. It really did feel like a confirmation of the way we do things. We expect the kids to be responsible for their reactions and to not react when faced with adversity. In other words “ignore the crap and move on with what’s important.”

In four and a half years of this, I am sure you have never heard me or any of the other coaches yell or curse at a player, referee or opposing coach. It’s not the example that kids should see. Sometimes that can be very hard. I can be a very competitive person, but ego must be checked at the door. It really is about the kid’s experience, not mine, not the other coaches.

Going forward, I am sure this stuff will only get worse. I am meeting with Pelham Rec on May 13 to ask them if we can establish a U18 team. I am pretty sure they will say yes. I am also sure we will see more of this behavior and am absolutely sure we will have to be more vigilant in maintaining our cool.

We will be talking about their reaction today at practice. But if you get a chance, tell them how proud you are of them and what a great job they did last night.