Sunday, 25 May 2014

Why I coach

Growing up in North Surrey in what would be considered an inner city school neighborhood, there were opportunities to go down alternative routes.  One thing that kept me from those alternative lifestyles was the fact that I played a lot of school and community athletics.  From Track and Field at KB Woodward with Ms. West and Ms. Powell, to a multitude of sports like Volleyball (Mr. Penner), Basketball (Mr. Mcleod & Mr.Tait), Rugby (Mr. Sandve) and Soccer (Mr. Gill), I have had a lot of people who have provided lots of opportunities to do something positive in my community. Because of their sacrifice of time to make me a better athlete, but most of all a better person, I feel as though I should maintain their legacies by giving back to my community.  

One of the most important reasons for school sports is to give children an opportunity to play sports with their friends.  I have sat in many conversations about coaching (Neufeld, Pedersen,Vaughn to name a few) and I have changed my philosophy because of discussions I have had with other coaches in the Surrey School District.  Competition is a very important aspect for many coaches and at times the "W" becomes the most important thing. Others like providing opportunities for all kids, not just the Star athletes who are also playing in the community, but the kids who have been introduced to the sport and want to play the sport in a somewhat organized- somewhat competitive format.  This sounds a lot like intramurals to some, but I am not here to discuss the best routes, whether its competitive or intramural routes for school athletics.  

I coach first and fore-most to build relationships and to mentor my students outside of the classroom. Coaching allows me to see and experience students in their areas of interest.  Like a Drama teacher puts on a play, or a band teacher puts on a concert, I like seeing students succeed in their areas of interest.  Its not about winning a championship, as its more about the looks of accomplishment on their face when they score that lay up they could never do.  Getting to know students outside the classroom and watching them develop through different activities allows me to better understand who they are in the classroom.  This gives me a bigger picture of who they are outside the letter grades and the percentages.

Secondly, I coach to encourage the love of the sport and encourage them to live a healthy lifestyle through participation of sport.  This year, I have had to re-examine my coaching values as I have benched players and not let others play in specific games for the "W".  I had to ask myself at the end of a long ride home from Ladner, What is my purpose in coaching school sports?  I came to the conclusion to that it is to provide an opportunity for my students to play sports.  Whether or not we win or lose, at least they have a chance to play, like how my teachers gave me chance.

Sportsmanship is another huge reason I coach.  Teaching students to follow the rules, to play within the means of the game with integrity, honesty and care are important values they can transfer into the real world.  Working hard and always trying their best is an important aspect as well. Watching my players play with integrity and not through dirty tactics all while achieving their goals is an enlightening experience.

Every team is different and every team has different goals and needs.  As coaches we need to evaluate each team and have open discussions with our players about which values are the most important to the team.  Winning can be a value that gets presented by players, parents, and fans, but we must remember that this cannot be the only and defining value.  If you want to coach to win, there are alternative avenues to do so in club and community athletics especially at the hire levels.  Nonetheless, at the school athletic level, I think the most important avenue is giving the kids a chance to play a sport, to participate athletically with their friends which will help build them personally, but also build the school community and the overall community on a whole.  

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