A blog expressing gratitude is one of my favorites to write. Science has confirmed that regularly engaging in gratitude releases us from toxic emotions and, over a relatively short period of time, actually changes our brain function. And what better time to share a message of appreciation than a week from Thanksgiving, in the middle of National Gratitude Month.
There are so many selfless, inspiring, and dedicated groups of people I could highlight. As a father of three who tries hard to instill all the right lessons in my children, I have personally experienced the indelible impact of an often unsung group of volunteers. I’d like to spend a moment thanking...
Volunteer Youth Coaches.
I imagine that many parents have, at times, had the same experience as I in raising my own children: it doesn’t matter how much life we’ve lived or how much expertise we might possess on a particular subject, our child just simply isn’t interested in being taught, coached, or mentored by us. It’s as though we have no value to add.
Enter “Coach.” Watch as your son’s or daughter’s eyes light up with the wonder and admiration that only an 8 year old can muster. (And then stop yourself from jumping out of your skin when your child responds with devotion as the Coach says, almost verbatim, what you have been telling your child for the last four weeks.)
There are few more rewarding moments for a parent than to witness your child open up and respond to a coach that has volunteered his or her time to help shape the minds, hearts, and character of our young progeny. There’s something magical about that relationship.
Staying up late putting together the lineup.
Racing from work to get to practice on time.
Showing up early to water the field.
Reaching into her own pocket to buy equipment.
Knowing just the right thing to say at just the right moment to inspire confidence.
Wiping away a tear after the fall.
Exhibiting incredible patience when the animals take over the zoo.
Cracking the relatable joke that exponentially increases their cool-factor.
Building camaraderie and and a strong work ethic.
Reminding them that it’s not about the score; it’s about love of the game and how you play.
Inspiring them to be the best versions of themselves.
These are all things our volunteer youth coaches do and they do them so well. As a result, our children grow as athletes, but even more so as people. The impact is palpable and I, for one, am incredibly grateful.
So this November, let’s take a moment to appreciate all the volunteer coaches who for no other reason than love of the game and a commitment to your kid, give of their time and energy to teach the lessons our children need to hear.
If you know a youth coach who has impacted the life of your child, maybe send them this blog as a message of “THANKS” for the time and energy they have invested. To all the coaches who’ve mentored my children...and you know who you are...THANK YOU!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Note: While this blog was written for narrative clarity with a lean toward athletic coaches, the messages and appreciation ring true for all coaches, whether they be of music, theatre, debate, STEM, chess, or any other venture. If you consider yourself a ‘coach,’ this blog’s for you!
Erik Burmeister is the Superintendent of Menlo Park City School District in the heart of Silicon Valley.