We are seeing a decline in youth sports participation. But even more so in those participants parents as coaches and volunteers. At specific ages we see children leaving sports but we are seeing a decline in this current generation of millennials that are becoming parents and not offering their time to help volunteer or run our local youth sports programs. Majoring of these associations are community based and volunteer run with little to no budgets. Every penny has to be spent on needs not wants. So paying for help is not always an option.
So why is the next wave of parents not “stepping up to the plate”. I don’t have the answer but I can make assumptions based on my many years’ experience as a coach and volunteer.
Intimidation, not all parents grew up playing youth sports, I was one of them. But when my daughter started kindergarten and had a bad experience with a coach (he also coached his older daughters select softball team and would repeatedly cancel due to the other teams schedule and needs) she decided she didn’t want to play even though she loved the sport. I knew I had to set aside the question of whether I was qualified or not and just do it. They were 5 years old for goodness sake, how hard could it be? It was hard, but rewarding.
I coached that team and majority of the same girls until they were in 7th grade. After that year the girls expressed an interest in playing more competitively and I knew they had outgrown me and I was at the end of my skill level. Fortunately I knew a guy, my husband. He had coached our son and his sports teams for years. Our son was the oldest and moving on to high school so my husband was willing and able. I stayed actively involved in the team as the strength coach and together (along with our co-coach Mr. D) we coached those girls through high school and 3 of our players received college scholarships.
That experience, though demanding at times, is one of the highlights of my life. Knowing I had a hand in helping these girls grow into mature, responsible, well rounded young women, well there is nothing more rewarding.
And I never played a day of organized sports in my life. I simply understood the need was bigger than me and my fear of failing.
So I ask you, our new generation of young parents, pay it forward. For all those youth coaches, good or bad, that sacrificed time away from their family to coach a group on kids after a full day of work. Give a little back. Connect with your child or other children in a way that might change them (and you) in a profound way, for life. Become a coach or volunteer today!
Aspire to Inspire