Being THAT Coach

Being THAT Coach

Two Saturdays ago, I was coaching my son’s 3rd and 4th grade flag football team. I started the morning as my usual positive, enthusiastic self. I was much better prepared than week one. I was ready to get all of the kids touches. I was intent on creating an environment for them to have a good time. This normally how me and my fellow coach Wayne approach coaching our team. However, Wayne was not able to make it this day and I attempted to coach the team on my own without help. My ego got in the way and it probably ended up leading to the misguided behavior that I am about to describe.

I called for my son Patrick to be quarterback for a series. Our father-son relationship on the field is volatile at times, which seems to be pretty common. I called for a pass play that seemed pretty clear in the huddle. However, when Patrick got to the line, he tucked the ball in executing a run play. He swept right, changed direction and came back left and had his flag pulled about 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. It went about as a poorly as it could have gone. Normally, I would have just smiled and said, “it’s just one play, forget it and let’s move onto the next.” However, something set me off in this instance. Perhaps I expected more from him. Perhaps I subconsciously felt like he elected to do his own thing despite my call. Perhaps I was just embarrassed that my kid screwed up. Whatever the reason, I reacted poorly. My behavior was negative and unacceptable. I pride myself on positivity, encouragement, and the ability to put the focus on the next play. Instead, I yelled at Patrick in a very aggressive way and I slapped the ball out of his hand, embarrassing him and myself. I regretted this right away. It was very much unlike me. What would the kids think? What would the parents think? How would I deal with it?

At the end of the game, I huddled up with the kids and explained that I was proud of their improvement despite our loss. They blocked better this week. They made three great interceptions on defense. And we moved the ball on offense. We just couldn’t get into the end zone. I told them I was proud of them and that I am confident we will continue to improve as a team. Most importantly, I looked them in the eyes and apologized. I explained that I get upset every now and then because I care about them a great deal and want the best for them. I apologized to Patrick specifically in that huddle and said that I was out of line. I humbled myself because that is what was needed. The boys deserve that respect. They need to know they don’t need to be afraid of their coach and they need to know why I act that way sometimes. I hope it made a difference.

After the game, I went home and got on my computer. I started typing an email to all of kids’ parents. Here is what it said:

Hi everyone,

I thought the boys played a great game today despite a 19-0 loss. We moved the ball well on offense, made some great plays on defense, and blocked MUCH better. We just couldn’t get in the end zone. I’m proud of the kids for their improvement this week.

It has been challenging to give everybody a chance to touch the ball, which is frustrating the kids and me. We will make sure everyone gets the opportunity to run and throw the ball this season.

Finally, for those of you who were there, you witnessed get upset with my son Patrick. He can be very frustrating at times, however, I have no excuse for yelling the way I did. I apologized to all the kids after the game and now I am apologizing to you. I am embarrassed at my behavior. Those of you who know me as a coach, know that I try hard to be positive and refrain from being negative in any way. Unfortunately, my guy sets me off from time to time, which I’m sure you can appreciate. Please know that I will do my best to avoid yelling in the future.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Mike

I felt the need to apologize and humble myself. I know I am human. I know I make mistakes. I know most parents get it and think nothing of it. However, I place immense value on maintaining my principles of positivity and encouragement. I did not uphold those principles in that moment, thus I needed to hold myself accountable. A few parents responded empathetically. It was nice to receive their support, but that’s not why I wrote the note. I did it to clear my conscience, to make amends, and to remind myself what I stand for. Hopefully, next time I will make a better choice in a similar situation. If I don’t, you’ll probably read about it again in this spot.

Thank you for reading.

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