By: An Anonymous Mom in Katy ISD
Playing time: what every kid wants, but not every kid gets. My boys are out of high school now, but they enjoyed an upbringing of heavy involvement in sports since around age six. When my oldest son reached middle school, I began to notice politics in sports. I was a working mom without the ability to immerse myself in PTA and Booster Clubs. While I was dedicated to my boys’ everyday lives, I did not feel it was necessary to join these clubs, since my time was so limited.
During my oldest son’s high school career, I witnessed many talented athletes sitting on the bench and getting very little playing time. That was an eye-opening experience; why would talented youth warm the bleachers? Perplexed, I decided to write an open letter to his coaches. I also dedicated this to all coaches who are entrusted to coach, lead, inspire, mentor, and develop emotional and physical skills in children that last a lifetime. These adults have the power to build… or kill the spirit of a young athlete.
I can imagine the life and job of a coach is so difficult; you’re responsible for understanding the individual differences in each athlete and instilling in them belief in themselves (confidence), and you also must coach, listen and communicate. The list goes on. To me, you hold one of the most important jobs influencing youth, aside from parenthood and teaching.
As I sat in the stands watching tonight’s game, I noticed the downcast faces of teenagers on the bench, hoping to get that “tap on the shoulder” to run onto the court and get an opportunity to prove themselves today. Our starters were not performing; shot after shot was missed, there were turnovers, and so on. Those kids were receiving chance after chance to make shots, miss, make mistakes, recover and do it all over again. This got me thinking about those hopeful athletes on the bench waiting for their playing time. Everyone wants it, not everyone gets it.
So, I want to ask: as a parent of one of those hopeful athletes, what is it that gets the playing time? I am only concerned with one boy, my own; but I feel the need to speak in general on behalf of all. What are you looking for and what does it take? What can he work on, so that he can get the opportunity to play, mess up and, ultimately, grow as an athlete and human being? I am not one of those parents that thinks their kid is the best; I am ONLY concerned with him working and growing and living up to his maximum potential. He can only do that with opportunity.
We’re nearing the end of the season, so I’m no longer concerned with the “why.” I am only concerned with the “what.” What can he work on after his sophomore year? What, specifically, will help him maximize his ability? I have always been hesitant in addressing concerns with a coach. I do not want you to get the wrong idea as to why I’m sending the email; for you to think that I’m “one of those parents” deluded into believing their kid is the best at everything and can do no wrong. Please understand that this is not at all the case.
In fact, my son has another coach, whom he works with once a week. This coach is also his AAU coach, but in the offseason, he trains him. What specifically can I tell him to work on, so he is given playing time in high school? Your feedback is very important to me and to him.
This was my letter, and it did get me facetime with these coaches. However, my aspiration extends further than my own son. My hope is that coaches come to understand the profound impact they have on shaping not only an athlete’s performance, but also their character and lifelong journey.
In our case, our son did go on to play Division 1 College Basketball. However, this was not coming out of that high school. He was an athlete, once let down and on the verge of losing his love for the sport. Within himself, he found the inner strength to persevere, and ultimately, he rose to new heights, driven by his unwavering passion and determination.