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Hey Coach: Give the Kid a Chance! {Guest Post from Eli at Coach Daddy}

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You’re in for a treat today. I’ve got one of my favorite bloggers here guest posting, Eli from Coach Daddy. 

If you haven’t been on Eli’s blog, you need to visit, especially if you have kids in sports. Scratch that. If you have kids, you’ll appreciate his parenting, his humor, and his views on life.  Eli is a coach. He happens to be a soccer coach, which is my kids’ sport of choice, but that really doesn’t matter. He’s an all around good guy. He’s the kind of coach you want your kids to have…the kind of coach who makes kids believe in themselves. He’s the kind of parent you want to be friends with. And he’s funny too.  But don’t take my word for it. Visit his blog!

Today he’s over at my place talking about chances…specifically those given by a coach who has the opportunity to make a difference in a kid’s life. Sometimes it just takes a coach to believe in a kid for that kid to believe a little more in himself.

To one person you may be the world quote

I had a college coach like that. Q was known for giving kids a chance. I was recruited to run, but not at the school I went to. Not for a D1 school. But he gave me a chance. And believed in me…or at least he made me feel like he did. I walked on to the team my freshman year. I struggled. I’d never run so much in my life, and I was more tired than I’d ever been before. I still remember a track workout I couldn’t finish my freshman year. We were doing something like eighteen 400’s with almost no rest…and I kept having to stop and take breaks. I remember him saying to me “if you can ever finish a workout, you might be good.” I heard “you might be good.” I made varsity the following year, and he gave me some scholarship money. By the time I left school, I had worked my way up. Starting out as a walk on was a strike against me, yet he never treated me differently, and never made me feel like I couldn’t get there. Jerry Quiller was the best coach I ever had. I will never forget him. I wish I would have had the chance to tell him that before he passed away last year. He was an extraordinary man and an amazing coach.  

Please welcome Eli, who has some great words of wisdom for us today…and everyday.

# # #

There’s something that happens when a kid scores her first goal.

Is it chemical? Biological? Just a shift in perspective? I’m not sure, but it’s palpable.

Whether you envision it as a light bulb turning on, or a switch flipped, or letting the tiger out of the cage, there’s a change. The game slows down, the goals get bigger, and confidence grows.

Before all that, there has to be the spark.

And that spark needs a chance to ignite. Too often, we coaches don’t dole out enough of those chances. We don’t entrust the kids, because what if they fail? What if on a random Saturday in November, we don’t win the match? What will become of our legacy?

We have to remember without our kids’ conquests and lessons and growth, we have no legacy.

# # #

Building a Fire Within coaching quote

Coach Vinny grabbed my facemask and pulled me, front and center.

Our fullback, Robbie, had just been injured. Que the backup: Me.

I held my breath as he thumbed through his mental playbook, ready to absorb the play I’d have to relay to our quarterback, Chris.

Base 43 … he began.

Holy !@#%. The 4 meant I was going to run the ball. The 3 meant the play would go to the left.

No no no … he said.

He remembered who’d run the ball on that play for John Evans Junior High.

34 outside … he audibled, and I ran onto the field.

Part of me wanted to call my own number, to show him I could do it. That’s me, with a burst through the gap, a juke on a linebacker, a bulldoze move on a cornerback and a strong-arm on a safety en route to the end zone. That could also be me, the one who fumbles the handoff.

So I delivered the play call, blocked for D.J., and returned to the sideline a play later when Robbie was ready to go back in.

I don’t remember if we won or lost.

# # #

As a youth soccer coach, I move players around on the field. I don’t want them to play the same position, game after game. They’re too young for that.

This is often immediately detrimental for our team on a given Saturday. It is never detrimental–short-term or long-term – for our players.

Plus, it makes for good drama.

When you give a kid a chance, sometimes they fail. “I want to do the goal kick!” many kids have screamed, then proceeded to boot the ball right to the opposition for an easy save. Lesson learned.

But sometimes, sometimes that kid comes through. Often, even. They’ll do something or show something or find something even I didn’t see.

It gets better.

My kids feel my confidence in them. Many times, when a goalkeeper is injured in a game, a kid will pop up from the bench and say, “Let me go in coach. I’ll go in for her.” With the game on the line. Even those who don’t like to play goalkeeper, they’re willing and eager to step up.

So, I give them the chance.

Because you take a risk when you give a kid a chance on a soccer field.

But you fail as a coach when you take that chance away from them.

# # #

Coach DaddyWhen he isn’t trying to turn back the clock at school dances or hating on Disney, Eli writes a blog called Coach Daddy, all about “fatherhood, food and futbol.” Follow him on Twitter.



Wednesday 27th of November 2013

Great post, Eli! I am a firm believer that a coach can make or break a kid - my one son had a terrible coach last year, and the coach finally resigned. My son now has an amazing guy who is coaching him in soccer - but also teaching him so much about himself and what he is capable of doing - which carries over into LIFE. It has really helped my son's self esteem and I am so grateful for the great role model in my son's life.

Michelle Nahom

Friday 29th of November 2013

My son had a couple years worth of not-so-great experiences with his teams and wanted to quit. We convinced him to stick it out and the group of coaches and kids he is with now has been such a positive change. He's actually enjoying it again! A good coach who believes in all the players can make a world a difference!


Friday 29th of November 2013

We coaches are lucky we didn't drive your son away from the sport for good. That's the travesty. Hearing of kids who give up a sport because of a coach. When I see kids playing for a guy who don't teach and foster confidence, I just want to toss one of our jerseys to the kid and take him in.

We have a great responsibility to these kids! We can't take that lightly, but it's also one of the most awesome responsibilities to take on. I wouldn't trade it.


Wednesday 27th of November 2013

I love Eli because he coaches from the heart. He never forgets why he's there.

I once had to tell a student teacher who wasn't getting through to the class and whose answer to me when I asked about a different approach was "that's how I teach" that "if the kids aren't learning you're NOT teaching." It's so easy to get lost in what you think you're supposed to be doing and forget WHO you're supposed to be doing it for.

Thanks Eli, for remembering.

Michelle Nahom

Friday 29th of November 2013

You are so right Karen! Good teachers can adjust. I remember when my oldest son was younger, he simply couldn't sit in a desk, he always had to be moving around. His second grade teacher moved him to the back of the classroom, where he couldn't distract anyone else, and allowed him to stand and work whenever he needed. We were lucky that he had a few teachers that simply adjusted to what he needed to concentrate. Of course there were others that didn't and those were tough years.


Friday 29th of November 2013

Thank you Karen! I agree, the my-way-or-the-highway mode of thinking doesn't get it done. I wish some of my girls' teachers would learn this. If you're not there to ignite that spark, why are you there? You're so right when you said you can't forget WHO you're supposed to do it for!


Tuesday 26th of November 2013

This is so true! And not just in sports. My oldest two children are musicians and my youngest bakes. My husband used to always say that Lucas couldn't cook when I wasn't around because he "might burn the house down". Once I put my foot down and said he can cook whenever he wants we've gotten some really delicious meals and baked goods (mostly baked goods!). It doesn't take much to open up a child's mind to the possibilities.


Wednesday 27th of November 2013

You're so right, Carla, and I love how you gave that encouragement. Nothing stifles like discouragement, too. The kids will start to believe it. I remember getting complimented for being a hard worker - for the first time in my life - in college, working on the school paper.

I'd been told all my life what an underachiever and strange kid I was, that I was surprised anyone would see me for anything but that. And it made a difference. I might still be an underachiever and a strange kid, but dangit, when it comes to writing and coaching, I'm going to try my hardest.

And a world with another good cook in it? I'm always in favor of that, Carla.

Amber Day Hicks

Tuesday 26th of November 2013

Aight, y'all- late to the party as usual... Thanksgiving shopping before the "massive" storm this morning of which we are now on a 2 hour delay...anyways, I'm not a sports person LOVE NCAA basketball & NASCAR but as a kid I was on the stage either singing or acting (I know y'all are coaches are there for encouragement in our children & teens, if you were to ask me. The song I keep hearing is "Put me in, coach, I'm ready to play" I'm so excited to hear you work like this & want to uplift our youth & not discourage them. This warms my heart, Eli! I love that (2) of my fave bloggers came together, XO y'all!


Tuesday 26th of November 2013

Thanks Amber! I love that song. On Grace's U11 team, I loved that when I subbed out a player, she'd walk to the bench, gulp down some water or Powerade, and come back to me to say, "I'm ready to go back in!" It's the only way to go, Amber ... we have to remember we're there for them, and when we give them the chance, the sky's the limit.

Michelle Nahom

Tuesday 26th of November 2013

Truth by told, I was feeling pretty lucky to have him here, Amber. Eli is one of my favorite bloggers, and you know I have a soft spot for soccer since we live and breathe it over here. I love his style of writing but all those life lessons he shares constantly keep me going back to his blog. I'm just a soccer mom, but he makes a real difference in the lives of the kids he coaches!


Tuesday 26th of November 2013

What's the value of legacy as a coach if you don't challenge those kids - and give them the chance to learn something about themselves on the field? I imagine that moving players around does not always work in favor of the team or that particular game but being thrown into the unknown brings out the best in us - always. Great job, as always, Eli, as a coach and a writer.


Tuesday 26th of November 2013

A lot of coaches we encountered this season treated the team as a showcase for his own kid, in their featured position. Cute, but I'm not impressed. I want Grace to play everywhere. I want her to defend, man the midfield, move ahead and play striker.

And when you give kids chances all over the field, their confidence grows. Their knowledge of the game grows. And their skills and abilities grow, too. Suddenly, it's tournament time, and instead of a team full of complementary players to your kid, you have a roster of diverse, versatile players.

Thanks Ilene!

Michelle Nahom

Tuesday 26th of November 2013

Eli's words of wisdom can resonate with anyone who has an opportunity to "give a kid a chance" whether it's on the field, in the classroom or at home! He truly is an extraordinary coach! Something little can make all the difference in the world to a kid!