Resetting Youth Sports - Calling All Moms!
I’ve got a radical idea to help “reset” Youth Sports, following this Covid19 pandemic! I don’t think of it as “revolutionary” however, rather...it is “evolutionary!” Some will say it’s not radical at all, nor should I have chosen “moms.” My choice was intentional, because of the visceral connection that most of us share with the word (or, uh...person) we know as MOM. Besides, when you turn the word MOM upside-down, you have the word WOW! What could be more fitting!
I do recognize, however, that my proposal (which follows) would be dependent on women in general and not solely the population of moms. Before I reveal the proposal, I must share a story that became the catalyst for this idea...please read on!
In the Conclusion of his book, Staring Down the Wolf, author and former Navy Seal Mark Divine recounts a conversation with Australian special ops warrior turned philanthropist, Damien Mander. After leaving the Service, Mander ventured to South Africa, looking to decompress. In his own words, “when I arrived in Africa, instead of looking for a cause, I was looking for a fight.” After some personal turmoil, he hit rock bottom and made a decision that would change his life...Damien got involved with an anti-poaching operation. The operation, intended to reduce poaching of elephants (for ivory tusks) and rhinos (for horns), was only intermittently successful – not to mention very expensive, at the cost of hundreds of lives.
Looking for a more productive solution, Damien had recently read a New York Times article about the first group of female U.S. Army Rangers to go through training. Using this as a lead “hunch,” he began researching empowerment of women – which he discovered was the single greatest positive force for change in the world. He and his team were not only successful in recruiting and training female anti-poaching teams, but the program produced some other very positive, but unanticipated benefits. Since October 2017, the teams have made 72 arrests (some very high, syndicate-level operatives) without firing a single shot!
In a more recent conversation (prior to publishing his book), Divine provided this update from Damien Mander. “The hour of crisis has arrived, and eight centuries since Genghis Khan’s men shook the world, it is now being shaken again for the better – only this time by a very different kind of force, a special one. Women!”
So...here’s my proposal! Let’s create the pipeline to inject more women into the coaching profession/vocation. The revitalization of Youth Sports, particularly in the game of football, needs more transformational coaches. While many men fit this role now and many more are suitable, we’re missing out on a population of potential coaches who have more of a “natural disposition” to acquire the attributes of such a coach!
In his book, InSideOut Coaching, former Syracuse All American and NFL Star Joe Ehrmann says, “Transformational coaches are others-centered. They use their power and their platform to nurture and transform players. A transformational coach is dedicated to self-understanding and empathy, viewing sports as a virtuous and virtue-giving discipline.”
Continuing with this “theme,” noted speaker, author and founder of Changing The Game Project, John O’Sullivan has this to say about transformational coaches in his book, Every Moment Matters. “Great coaches are athlete-centered and person-centered. They recognize that if they connect with the individual and if they coach the person and not the sport, they will reach more of their athletes than by taking a one-size-fits-all approach.”
I’m certainly not suggesting that we abandon the population of dedicated male coaches who’ve put in the time for many years! Many of these men continue to volunteer their valuable time, even after their own kids have “aged out” of the sport they coach. Many are absolutely dedicated to their craft and are not only great coaches (of Xs & Os), but they are empathetic, athlete-centered, caring individuals who promote a culture of inclusion and love on their teams!
I’m merely suggesting that as we recover from the Covid19 crisis and things begin to get back to normal (whatever that looks like)...it’s a perfect time to shift gears and “reset” Youth Sports. Society could benefit from a revitalization of Parks and Recreation (local level) grassroots programs. In order to grow these programs and expand their reach, we will need more coaches...and who better to fuel that expansion than women, particularly “moms!”
I invite you to jump on my bandwagon and support the cause! Encourage more women (and moms) to get involved in coaching. The “technical” parts of the game(s), particularly football, can be taught as “on the job training” – so anyone with a desire can become proficient at the fundamentals. To complete the mission, however, and truly help grow the game – we need transformational coaches. My hunch is many of the sports moms and women out there possess just the right mix if nurturing love, vulnerability and resilience to become transformational coaches! I suggest this is how we can “reset” Youth Sports and keep MORE kids, playing MORE sports, for MORE of their lives! #ForTheGoodOfTheGame