I’ll never forget it.
I was a high school freshman and we were in the middle of a heated basketball game with one of our rivals.
I was on the floor when I heard my coach yelling for me, “Mandy! Mandy!”
I heard him. But I was blatantly ignoring him.
On the third, “Mandy!” I turned away from the court to the bench and yelled “WHAT?!!?” My hands were in the air to signal I was annoyed.
This coach was not one to mess with. He knew basketball like the back of his hand and he DID NOT DEAL with disrespect. His face immediately got beet red and his eyes were bulging out of their sockets.
I heard the buzzer blaring for a sub and I knew I was coming out of the game.
I went to sit in an open seat at the top of the bench and he said, “No. You go take a seat at the end of the bench. And get comfortable.”
It was the first quarter and I didn’t play another second of that game.
During halftime he said to me, “If you ever talk to me like that again—if I ever hear you talking to a referee or another coach like that—you will be so far down on this bench you won’t even see the court.”
After the game, he walked up to my Dad who was a long-time boys’ basketball coach. He wanted to explain why I was benched but my Dad cut him off. “You’re the coach. You don’t owe me any explanation when it comes to your team.”
I think about that moment a lot because I think we’ve drifted so far past that when it comes to teaching our kids about accountability.
In our house, if you’re not playing, that’s on you. Work harder so you leave no doubt (even if politics are involved).
You look cross-eyed at your coach, I hope you are benched.
You’re not focused in school? Benched.
You tear down a teammate? Benched.
Youth sports have changed so much . . . some of the stories I hear or see firsthand . . . it’s like inmates running the asylum.
Coaches are too afraid to hold kids accountable because parents lobby to have them fired.
And it’s sad because a lot of the parents are my generation, and come on, we know we learned and benefited the most from the teachers and coaches who pushed us the hardest and held us ACCOUNTABLE.
I love youth sports because it’s so much more than scores and records.
It teaches us teamwork, builds and reveals character, we learn to work through adversity, the list goes on and on.
There’s nothing wrong with coaches holding our children to higher standards by saying “That’s not how we behave here.”
I don’t know about you, but my kids need that because I’m trying to make sure I’m not raising narcissistic, entitled, and self-absorbed humans.
They’re going to make mistakes . . .
They’re going to have low-character days . . .
They’re still learning and growing . . .
I just hope every coach and teacher knows that I have their backs when they tell my kids, “Nope. Take a seat.”
Forever grateful to Coach H for telling me to get comfortable on the bench. Nothing I could have done on that court that night could have overridden my disrespect.
In order for youth sports to do its job, parents need to stay out of it. Park the helicopter and stop hovering.
It’s the fighting through the adversity that will lead our kids to endless success. Truly.
Character > athletic ability.