Hello Coach Kuyper,
I coached a Little League Farm Team many years ago. The plea for a coach went around the room three times before I volunteered. I had coached Miss Softball but had never coached Little League before. I felt I didn’t know enough to tell the players how to stand at bat or other basics, which other coaches would have known. However, I figured having me was better than having no team at all.
Half way through the season, when our team hadn’t lost a game, the President of Little League phoned me and told me other coaches were perturbed by my team’s successes. They wanted to make sure that I knew that players’ positions were supposed to be rotated. I had a computer program set up to insure the rotation.
He then asked me what we were doing to win. I told him that although I didn’t know enough to be an assertive coach, whenever anyone hit the ball, threw the ball, or caught the ball, we all yelled “Yay!”…. We only lost one game that season. Further, I was so excited when one of my “boys, who had never played baseball before, phoned me when he signed up with a major league team.
Although winning was a bonus, coaching that team would have been a wonderful experience even if we had lost.
I might add that I think I was the first woman coach in Scottsdale and there was quite a controversy about a woman coaching in Little League but it all worked out great.
Thank you so much Linda for giving us your story and that picture of what youth coaching is all about. “Yay!” I believe what you brought to the team was an unselfish desire to benefit the kids and the essential ingredient… “Fun”. Remember everyone, this is about having fun; and that means the kids first and then the coaches.
I remember coaching one of my son’s baseball teams; between innings we took out the water balloon launcher and “let ‘em fly”. If you asked the kids after games if they won or not, they sometimes wouldn’t know that answer, but they could sure tell you how far their balloon went, and how fun it was to watch it splatter when it hit the ground.
This is the atmosphere we want to create for these young kids. If it is fun, they will keep coming back to play. That should be one of our top goals and objectives.
Being playful and creative will set the tone for a fun hour or two. If these same kids feel threatened or feel the pressure of performance, the fun is taken away and the desire to keep playing is gone.
In all my 20+ years of coaching my kids, I can’t tell you how many times my teams came in first place or how many times we came in last place. I do remember falls, skinned knees, kids learning to pick themselves up, kids helping each other up, and smiling faces. I really want to encourage all youth coaches to look beyond the “right now, today” and even though you are in the heat of the battle and living it in the present, your most significant memories will be how you helped the kids, or what positive influence you made. We must own with sobriety, the influence we have in the lives of these kids. This is what counts for a lifetime. The wins and losses will all fade away, but the character building and the fun will last forever.
I am reminded of a question that was asked to kids: would you rather sit on the bench for a winning season, or play and be with your friends on a losing team?
I am sure you can guess their response: play and have fun with their friends even if it means a losing season.
So, let’s not take this away from them. Let’s honor our kids and have fun…
Let’s all go out and buy a water balloon launcher! “Yay!”
For questions or comments for Tom Kuyper, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org