Posts Tagged ‘youth sports’

Reminder To Sports Parents – He’s Just A Little Boy

We are nearing the end of Baseball season for Bruce. The obnoxious parents are still out there and not yet tired of hearing themselves act worse than children. So,  when a Facebook friend shared this picture I had to do the same. It’s making it’s way around Facebook with kudos from moms everywhere.

This sign was hung up at the Cana Tigers’ baseball fields in Corsicana, TX to remind people of why they were there. I think this should be hung up at every youth sports complex in America.

Props to Coach Steve Petty and his crew for putting this in the forefront of everyone’s mind as they watch these games!

He stands at the plate with his heart pounding fast;

The bases are loaded. the die has been cast.

Mom and Dad cannot help him; he stands all alone.

A hit at this moment would send the team home.

The ball nears the plate; he swings and he misses.

There’s a groan from the crowd, with some boos and hisses.

 

A thoughtless voice cries, “strike out he bum!”

Tears fill his eyes, the game’s no longer fun.

Remember – he’s just a boy who stands all alone.

So open your heart and give him a break.

For it’s moments like this a man you can make.

Keep this in mind when you hear someone forget.

He’s just a little boy, not a man yet.

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The Death of Unorganized Sports

Every year Ryan watches the Little League World Series. Every year I ask if there is anything else on tv (besides the 12 ESPN channels that always seem to have 4 old men talking sports behind a big desk- those “4 men behind a desk” shows annoy the crap out of me). Apparently, for about 2 weeks there isn’t. I think it’s great that these kids have the chance to play in these types of games and get national recognition.

Wait for it….

BUT, each year the looks on these kids faces portray nothing but fear. They aren’t smiling or joking with each other like MLB players do in the dugout. They aren’t jumping up and down and smiling into the cameras for their friends at home to seethem. No, all I see are children being put in such a high pressure situation that they aren’t even taking in the experience; all they know is they MUST WIN. This year, a few of the kids looked like they just wanted to run away and cry.

I recently read an article on what ruined youth baseball of our past. The author seemed to believe that it was ESPN and tv cameras. He remembered the joy kids had playing sandlot baseball in an unorganized environment – the freedom for them to just let lose.

Sandlot baseballRemember what it was like? No fancy bats, no sponsors or big name logos, no reporters asking you about your winning strategy, no birth certificate rules or certifications. Just a bunch of kids with sticks and garbage can lids having fun in the street or in an empty dirt lot.

Today, the neighborhood kids don’t converge in one location outside to play games, they don’t find general household objects to use in games, they don’t catch fireflies in the summer night.  Now, kids hide inside all summer in the air conditioning playing video games or on the couch eating junk food while watching tv.

It’s sad. I’m all about organized sports. I’m a firm believer in organized sports’ role in sending kids down the right path in life, esp in inner cities or towns where the alternative can be deadly. I’ve seen if make a difference between a child losing their way in life and becoming successful members of society who are willing to give back to the next generation. I am grateful for every coach I had throughout my life that made a difference in my life. For every coach who was like a second parent to me and believed in me and made sure I was headed in the right direction.  For every coach that disciplined me and didn’t fill my head with empty unearned praise but made sure I learned that life isn’t always fair and how to loose with grace while learning from my mistakes.

But I wonder when organized sports took over for just plain fun. I would love to see kids outside just running around and working things out for themselves. Making up their own rules, teaching each other, and just concentrating on the fun – not the fancy LED scoreboard. Sure, even the youngest kids keep score at everything. In my house even a game of checkers is a constant “Am I winning?”. And I see no real problem with acknowledging winning or losing – I just think it shouldn’t overshadow the game itself.

This post started off in a completely different direction so I will have to get to that topic in another post.

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Heads Up: Help Spread Concussion Awareness!

Between football and soccer and the ability to play sports year round in Florida, Bruce spends A LOT of time on a sports field. We’ve been extremely lucky over the years that we haven’t had any sports-related injuries. I’m not naive enough to expect that to continue in the years to come but  both Ryan’s and mine experience as athletes allows us to be familiar with many sports injuries and how to treat them.

Ryan played football and baseball as a kid until a football injury to the knee in college pretty much ended his football playing days. As a cheerleader and track runner, I have endured my own stretches of physical therapy and hobbling around on crutches. But the worst injury of all – a concussion.

A concussion is a type of  traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This can literally cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain. These chemical changes make the brain more vulnerable to further injury. 

I was once hospitalized in college for a concussion related to a cheerleading injury and I have seen plenty of concussions during my years as a cheerleader and cheerleading coach.  In the last few years, cheerleading has become more and more dangerous due to the increased demand for difficulty and adding the “wow” factor to their routines. With that, has come an increase in concussions and other TBIs.

The answer is not to deny our children the chance to play the sports they love. All parents and anyone involved in youth sports should be aware of the seriousness surrounding traumatic brain injuries and the correct course of action to be taken if they suspect a child is suffering from a TBI. And most importantly, they should be familiar with the signs of a TBI so it can be detected promptly, avoiding further injury.

Brain injuries can often go undetected or can be mistaken for a headache or exhaustion. And athletes are taught to “shake it off” and “get back in the game”.

The Center For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) developed the following 4-step Heads Up Action Plan to help you protect your child or teen if you suspect they have a concussion:

1. Keep your teen out of play. If your child or teen has a concussion, her/his brain needs time to heal.  A repeat concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first—usually within a short period of time (hours, days, or weeks)—can slow recovery or increase the likelihood of having long-term problems. In rare cases, repeat concussions can result in edema (brain swelling), permanent brain damage, and even death.

2. Seek medical attention right away. A health care professional experienced in evaluating for concussion will be able to decide how serious the concussion is and when it is safe for your child or teen to return to sports. 

3. Teach your child or teen that it’s not smart to play with a concussion. Rest is key after a concussion. Sometimes athletes wrongly believe that it shows strength and courage to play injured. Discourage others from pressuring injured athletes to play. Don’t let your child or teen convince you that s/he’s “just fine.”

4. Tell all of your child or teen’s coaches and the school nurse about ANY concussion. Coaches, school nurses, and other school staff should know if your child or teen has ever had a concussion. Your child or teen may need to limit activities while s/he is recovering from a concussion. Things such as studying, driving, working on a computer, playing video games, or exercising may cause concussion symptoms to reappear or get worse.

In addition to the Heads Up Action plan, the CDC developed the following educational materials and messages for specific audiences:  

In an effort to raise awareness about TBI, parents, coaches, and athletes are encouraged to share their stories or ask CDC questions on the CDC Heads Up Facebook page

To learn more about the Heads Up initiatives and to download your own materials, visit http://www.cdc.gov/concussion.

I plan to download some of this information and make sure it is posted in our football/cheerleading program office for all to see. I will also be including some of these links on our website for our coaches and parents. The more people know about brain injuries, the safer our kids will be as sports become more competitive and require more skill than they did in years past.

“I wrote this blog post while participating in a SocialMoms blogging program for which I may receive a thank you kit.” For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

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Homecoming – The Perfect End To Football Season

This past weekend was homecoming for our football organization. It was a

The Homecoming Queens

long day for those of us who put many hours into planning and executing it, but so worth it. It was so great to see all of our teams in one place together. I got to talk to every mother and father on that field, watch the smiles on each kid’s face and be a part of  an amazing end to a stressful season.

It was a festive day with raffles, a crazy mascot dancing in the endzone, balloons and streamers spread throughout the stadium, family pictures, players getting escorted across  the field by their family members and presented over the PA system, 400 spray-painted burnt orange carnations, and cheerleaders. Our older kids even sported some pink bands for Breast Cancer awareness.

We even got to try out some Longhorn eye-black. Thanks to Eyeblack.com, Bruce’s whole tiny mite team was outfitted with the eye-black stickers. They looked so cute and were so excited. It’s amazing how something so simple could really unify a team and make them feel connected. They felt like the professional players they idolize. 

I sported a pair of them all day – 15 hours in the hot Florida sun – and I was really impressed with the quality. No matter how sweaty my face got or even when I washed it they stayed put! After being in the sun all day with them I was worried when I took them off I would have raccoon eyes but the white spots were very, very slight and after I washed my face it was completely unnoticeable. 

Eyeblack.com has over 4000 designs in stock with college logos, inspirational sayings, solid colors, team names, religious symbols, military designs, the World cup, and more. They even have Halloween and Breast Cancer awareness designs.  

We sold out of them in our booster stand pretty early on. We’ll definitely be selling them all season next year! I got the stock design but they also made me a virtual sample with our logo which came out awesome.

The night ended with the most remarkable display of unity I have ever seen. I witnessed the true meaning of football. It isn’t about strategy, the position you play, or how fast you can run. It’s about brotherhood and being there for your teammates when they need you most. It’s about being part of something bigger than you.

Two days before homecoming one of the boys on our oldest team lost his step-dad in an accident and his mom was lucky to be with us. Obviously, this was an emotional night for his family. He carried a picture of him and his step-dad from a previous football game and took the traditional family picture with his mom and that framed picture. Before the game, I watched as his 29 teammates comforted him; their parents hugged his mom; his dad shed tears for his ex-wife’s husband and a man who loved his son like his own.

When I was talking to the boys that night and explained to them what they needed to do after they were announced and escorted on the field they made it clear that they knew what their job was that night. When it came time to escort this young player onto the field, his entire team stood behind him, his mom and his dad. The announcer requested a moment of silence and told him what he already knew – his entire longhorn family was behind him and there for him.

I watched from across the field as 30 young men stood with helmets in their hands and couldn’t help but cry. Yes, they were tears of sadness for a life lost to soon. But also, they were tears of pride for the 30 boys in front of us whose character shined as bright as the huge full orange moon behind them. 

They went on to win that game 36-12 and they earned a playoff spot – against a team who beat them earlier in the season. It might have been a combination of skill and great coaching but I’m more inclined to think it was their bond of brotherhood that led them to victory that night. A bond that will stay with them both on and off the field for many years to come.

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Yes, Youth Sports Really Should Be About The Kids- Not YOU!

I’m sick at the moment so my mind is kind of unfocused and I just want to go to sleep – which is exactly what I plan on doing – next Sunday.  Why Sunday you ask- because that is when football season is officially over! AND. I. CAN’T. WAIT.

I know what you are thinking “But, you live for the excitement of football season and can’t exist without the constant blur of things to do and general chaos of organizing things.” Yes, that is true most of the time but really, I’m ready for this one to end. I’m ready for the stress-free environment that is soccer season (which starts in 2 weeks).  

See, soccer and football are like 2 completely different countries. The language is different, the customs are different, the manners are very different, the people are beyond different. In the last 5 years of organized sports we have been through 3 football and countless soccer seasons, as well as a few other sports.

I have only once encountered an annoying soccer parent – you know the kind I mean. They are living through their child and think the louder they yell from the sidelines the better their child will be. And when someone does get out of hand, they are immediately put in their place from the league. It just isn’t tolerated.

For the most part, soccer parents sit on the sidelines and are friendly to each other, they cheer for the entire team (not just their own child), they willingly bring snacks and drinks for the kids, they recognize these are all-volunteer organizations that need volunteers, they show up on time and don’t argue with the coach or team mom every time they tell you something.

Football parents – not so much.

This season I have encountered moms who not only refused to fulfill their volunteer requirements but refuse to speak to you at all if you ask them to, parents who insist on coaching from the sidelines but not on the field, dads who argue over the numbers assigned to their kids, people who insist their child should be the team superstar and question why their kid is not playing a specific position, parents who see only their child on the field and an endless amount of complaining.

What’s worse – the large number of opposing teams’ coaches who felt it was necessary to cheat and the parents who can’t understand why we won’t. If you need to teach a bunch of 6 and 7 year olds to cheat at Tiny Mite football, what does that say about the rest of your life? And when caught cheating, own up to it – take responsibility or at least pretend you didn’t realize it happened. Don’t swear up and down that you weren’t cheating.   

Adults, in every sport, often forget that this is about the kids – not them. This is not an opportunity to live vicariously through your children. It is about sharing your love of a game, making a difference in a child’s life and influencing the positive course of a child’s life. Youth sports is not just about the sport – it’s about the lessons you teach the kids through the sport.

What you teach these kids on the field is a direct reflection of what you teach them off the field. And believe it or not, they do take those lessons into the real world with them – both today and in 10 years. And, maybe even more importantly – it is what they will teach the next generation both on and off the field.

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