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Coaching from the Stands

posted Feb 9, 2018, 9:31 AM by Brenda Williams
Parenting is a difficult job. Few can claim to have all the answers and no one is able to predict the outcome. Yet, there are some certainties in parenting that have proven themselves through the years. Encouraging children to take responsibility, to persevere through difficulty, to show respect, and to think of the potential outcome before taking action; these are a few of the character building efforts by parents that pay off. Successful parenting is less like following a recipe for your favorite hotdish and more like making a casserole with whatever you can find in the pantry. Interpretation: there is no one right way to raise every child; it involves a lot of trial and error.

Like parenting, coaching and mentoring students is challenging, involving a lot of trial and error. Yet, it seems that far less grace and forgiveness is allotted to coaches than to a parent struggling with raising their child. Recently, the Brainerd High School boys basketball coach tendered his resignation and that of his staff at the end of this season. The reason? Parents. Lake Park-Audubon schools recently reinstated their girls basketball coaches after one was put on administrative leave and another quit in protest. The reason for the suspension? Parent complaints about coaching. Ask any school leader what the most difficult positions to fill in their schools are; answer, coaches. As school districts across the country deal with a shallow pool of candidates that is drying up like a puddle on a hot summer day, the struggle to field teams is made harder by the unwillingness of teachers and many parents to take on the role of coach.

Here is the paradox of the situation. While we accept that parenting is a journey in darkness taken one step at a time and fraught with unexpected turns of fate and many disappointments, we expect that teachers and coaches know how to get it right every time. If the guidebook to 100% successful parenting is yet to be written, where is the guidebook to 100% successful coaching? The answer is the same in both cases. As much as we as parents long for the right decision in every situation we encounter so that our children can reach their fullest potential, we learn that some of the greatest lessons come from failure. It has been said that Thomas Edison failed 2000 times before succeeding with the light bulb. We learn as parents to understand that success as a parent is never declaring defeat and continuing to persevere. So do these values extend to the field of sport? Are we as parents willing to accept that school and sport are filled with unexpected difficulties that require a determination toward success through the combined efforts of teachers/coaches and parents? Educating a child is a team effort between teacher and parent where failure is not permanent and success is a journey. Hey, you up there in the stands, come join in the effort to coach our children to learn to succeed.

-- Aaron Nelson, HS Principal