I love sports of all kinds. I love to watch, play, officiate and coach many sports. The one thing that I truly love is coaching and officiating sports. Why would anyone want to put themselves into the middle of probably the most demanding of positions? My simple answer is I want to make a difference.
There are four basic roles in sports.
When I was growing up, I was lucky enough to play many different sports. I did not specialize in one in particular. I loved to learn and play. Pretty much was above average in almost every sport I played. Never was “great” enough to take it to the next level. When my kids were interested in sports, I got into coaching. Here is where I really loved what I was doing. Coaching youth sports for well over 25+ years. As a coach, you have lots of eyes watching you everyday. My main goal for my teams were to insure that every player improved and most importantly loved the game (and returned year after year). To help me in coaching, I took on officiating youth sport games. What better way to learn the game, then to officiate the game? A side benefit from officiating is you get to have more impact on more players. The biggest benefit was I got to see coaches (like me) in a different role!
I was lucky enough to be officiating a youth hockey game with my son! Proud moment to have my teenage son, officiating the sport he loved so much – working with me. We were working a game between a two different levels. It was a travel team of a younger level playing up against a house team. The coaches agreed that they would wanted the younger team to be allowed to check (which is not normally allowed for them). My son, asked the travel coach if the players understand the rules around checking? Coach said, “yes.” My son reminded the coach to instruct his players that he normally sees the younger (new checking players) like to use their hands to the upper part of the body to check. Please tell them to keep hands our of the face. Coach said, “they know already.”
It wasn’t 3 minutes in and one of the bigger house players checked a smaller player, using his hands and hit the head of the player. Penalty called. Next up, we had a string of the younger players get penalties for the same thing. Each time the travel coach would be arguing, complaining and just being extremely loud. All directed at my son. During on stoppage in play, I asked my son if he wanted me to switch sides with him. Basically getting him away from the benches. He did not want to switch. During the break in a period. I went over to the travel coach and pulled him aside.
We talked about the roles in youth sports. I reminded him that he is the coach and that all those eyes on his bench and in the stands are watching his actions. I told him, I have been in his shoes before and still am. I asked him to use this as a teaching moment for his players. Tell them what they are doing wrong so they can learn to improve. The whole discussion did not go well. He kept up his complaining of the calls that his players are smaller, faster and better skilled then the other team. That they were doing nothing wrong. That the officiating was picking on his players. I reminded him of the earlier discussion on checking. That his players were in fact using their hands and hitting to the head area. A penalty no matter what. Lastly, I asked for him to tune down the verbal abuse, please.
Long story short, he picked up his intensity on verbal abuse. I skated by one time to remind him to tune it down. On the next opportunity, he lashed out at my son. My son did what every official does when enough is enough. He gave the coach a misconduct penalty. The coach went off on this teenager. After what seemed like minutes, my son tossed the coach from the game.
Parents (Fans) in the stands applauded! Game continued and ended. After the game the travel assistant coaches told my son – he did the right thing. From the beginning to the end. Great job. When we left the rink, some parents were waiting to share their feelings – all positive.
Over the years, I try to insure that those 4 basic roles are understood by all of my team (the parents, players and coaches). We are all here for one reason, to provide a positive experience!