Tag Archives: coaching

Teachable Moments………

Pretty soon, I am going to have to change the name of this blog to Sports Are (Not) Us.

I have a friend who calls any mistake a teachable moment. And it’s good to remember that parents can have teachable moments too. My family got to experience several yesterday.

My daughter plays basketball. She just started this year and she really, really likes it. And she has great coaches.

She had a game yesterday. She is 9, as are all of her teammates. It’s rec league – not travel. So there are rules about how many quarters everyone can play so that everyone gets fairly equitable playing time. Of course, depending on how many players are there, it’s not all even steven but it can be closer than not.

The coach from the other team played one player – a super duper great player – all four quarters. There were 7 players on his team so no one should have played more than 3 quarters in the land of following the rules. But his choice left at least one other child to play less than her fair share. Conveniently enough it was not one of their strongest players.

Our coaches pointed it out at the beginning of the third quarter when it actually would have been effective to address it.

The other coach ignored it. “Oh, we’ll talk about it later,” he said. Seriously, you have been told the rule and you opt out?

The teenage referees were not counting quarters of play and it quickly became too late to do anything about it. Without boring you to tears with the details – the other coach waited until the last quarter to give one girl her 2nd quarter of play. This meant she could not be substituted in for the player who was playing her fourth. It seemed suspect.

Then, when he tried to substitute another girl in mid-way through the fourth quarter who already had three quarters of play in and who was also conveniently also a very good player (by taking out a girl who had not yet had her three quarters), our coaches said “Wait a minute. You just cannot do that.”

The other coach said basically, “Why not?”

Well, let’s see, besides the little thing called the rule book, no reason.

So someone we were sitting with looked up the rules on his smart phone and took the rules onto the court. I have to say initially I was very happy he did it. I simply cannot stand it when coaches pull this kind of crap. I really can’t – it teaches so many bad lessons and it is so unnecessary. But the reality of it is that parents aren’t allowed on court. The parent did not stay to argue the case but you know – two wrongs rarely make a right. And two bad examples don’t end up being a good example.

I have to say that no one was yelling, the teenage refs kept their composure, and it was all fairly civilized. But every last second of it was completely unnecessary.

It is still very hard for me to understand why this coach did this. I know winning is a lot of fun. But if you win by cheating then are you really winning? And if you know you are cheating, well…..

We took advantage of the teachable moment it gave us to talk to our kids about a lot of things – the character of the coach, our inappropriate involvement in the discussion (I was pretty fired up myself), and how unfortunate it was for the girls who were being shortchanged and even for the girls who were being relied on too heavily.

The worst part of all of it is that this team is undefeated which means they have a really good team made up of strong players. They are probably even coached pretty well. They played well together and had a lot of strengths. They would have had a great game within the parameters of the rules.

So as parents we (read I) have to remember to let the coaches coach and the refs ref and to not have an opinion.

And, most importantly, we need to let (all) the players play the game and just watch.

I also need to rethink how close I sit to the coaches. I heard way too much of what was going on.

As coaches, please remember you are setting an example of how to behave on and off the court. It’s is more important for us all to raise children of character than WNBA superstars. Of course I understand that the dynamics of the play structure are most likely lost on the girls. They probably did not understand what was happening. (Although I bet one little girl understood very well that she was not playing nearly as much as someone else.) I can barely figure out the playing time matrix, but the coaches should understand it. And if they don’t, well then, the league should educate them better. Although I unfortunately do not believe this was a breakdown in the education system.

The bottom line for me is that I fell off my high horse yesterday smack in the mud and I am a little sore today………….

Mark Blondie…………….

India has rocked my reality for sure. Things I just assumed were true about the world simply are not. Things that were once complicated have suddenly uncomplicated themselves and things that were easy schmeasy – well now, not so much.

We are rolling with the punches and really, truly have nothing to complain about. But some adjustments are trickier than others.

Take soccer (here it is called football) for instance. My kids love soccer – they each began playing when they were four and have not been off the pitch since – that is until we got here. We missed the sign ups when we arrived last year, so my kids have essentially been without soccer for a year. Yes, I know that is not the end of the world – but they love it, we love it, we all missed it.

And soccer sign ups here are not easy – if you are not coaching or sponsoring a team, good luck to you getting a spot. Hubby agreed to coach – he’s done it for years – and that guaranteed our kids could play. Obstacle number one – overcome.

For Bear and Angel it’s been a pretty smooth transition. But for Flower – enter obstacle number two. She is the only girl on her team.

Luckily she has a lot of soccer experience, she’s pretty fast, and she works hard. However, she still is on a team with all boys.

We did not make a big deal of it. You want to play, this is your option. She was and is fine with it. Not what she would prefer – but this has been a year sprinkled with “not what we would prefer” so we are getting the hang of adapting.

At her first practice the coach ran some speed drills. She beat a few of the boys and got a lot of eeeewws and aaaahhs. A little unnecessary because really, at this age, girls are often faster than boys. No one has really hit puberty yet and, like I said, she tries hard. Nonetheless, they were surprised and very verbal about it. They chided the boys she beat. Really, enough already. Anyway, she rolled with it. And after practice we laughed that she sure surprised them. They coach was very supportive – he complimented her on her speed and was happy to have her on the team.

Next was the game. Not so little number 14 on the  other team decided to push hard on Flower. Push he did. He was certainly more aggressive than necessary but not really over the line – pushing right up to the line – but not really going over it. Once again, she rolled with it. She didn’t slow down and maneuvered around him fine. She was often the only girl on the field. Undaunted, she played hard.

Then there was a throw in. She was standing on the field in front of the opposing coach and he yelled to his players, “mark your player, someone mark Blondie.”

Mark Blondie? augh. Who let Archie Bunker coach soccer in India?

The surprising thing about this comment is that the expat community here seems to be full of such global thinkers. They have been exposed to the world and embrace the differences that exist in it. They work hard to create advantages for the disadvantaged. It is filled with women who are literally changing the world and husbands who stay home with the kids. Of course, this one comment does not justify a condemnation of all things expat. But it surprised me because it sounded so back asswards.

Unfortunately – or maybe fortunately – I did not hear him say it. Flower told me about it after the game. This is my girl that hardly releases any details – seriously, I think she is in spy training. But this had an  impact on her. She told me that he looked and her and realized that she heard it. She told me she smiled and he smiled. Busted. Obstacle number 2 overcome.

Number 14 came at her pretty hard again and ended up on his butt. He kept his distance after that. She didn’t push him down. She was not retaliating. She was simply defending her position.  Obstacle number 3 overcome.

So when Flower told us about this Mark Blondie nonsense we laughed with her. Once again we complimented her on earning her spot on the field. We told her the other coach clearly saw her as a threat and wanted to make sure she was covered.

But privately, we wondered “what the heck”? It is hard enough for a girl here to get on the field without any nonsense. There are many girls who have chosen not to play. They are simply intimidated by the thought of being on the field with boys. Throw in the comments and the eeewing and aaahhing and it’s really tough.

And it is a shame. Some of these girls are remarkable players. They outwit and outlast most of the boys on the field. They score, they defend, they contribute in big ways to the success of the team. And they put up with some BS along the way.

So in true me fashion, I shared the story with a few moms. Most of them were outraged. I should lodge a complaint. I should have the coach reprimanded. Maybe I should burn my bra soccer cleats.

But we have chosen to treat this as not really a big deal. The bottom line really is that we will all face obstacles and if we let mere words stop us or slow us down, we lose before we even begin. We want the lesson to be not to let other people get in your way. Don’t get worked about about stupid comments. Continue to do your best. Besides, I have been seriously underestimated before and it can work to your advantage!

BTW, Flower was chosen as team captain for the last game and she continues to hold her own. She’s doing pretty well – even for a girl. 😉