West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on My First Experience with Parent-Coaches

Parents coaching their youth-sports sons and daughters -- a positive or negative adventure for children? My first encounter with parent-coaches was during my pre-teen days as a Little League participant. Allow me to share my impressions.

I played second base and short-stop on the "Comets" from fourth to sixth grade. Our captain was Wes Tillett, the team's pitcher. We trained and policed ourselves regarding technique and discipline problems on the squad. All decisions were made on a team-wide basis. At no time were there ever any parents involved.

Our game uniform included a t-shirt, with a number and team name sewn on the back by our moms. The rest of the outfit consisted of dungarees and sneakers. Although we weren't the most professionally attired ballplayers, over half our team later played ball for the high school varsity squad.

The games were supervised by a teacher, who kept the "stats" which were reported to the local newspaper's sports editor. Our umpire was a high school baseball player, who stood behind the pitcher's mound. My dad (when he could leave the cigar store) was one of the few spectators watching the game from the outfield fence. He never said a word. Moreover, there were very few (if any) arguments during competition.

It took us three years of hard work to reach the city championship series (best out of three). We were pitted against a team we never played or had seen before. Boy, were we in for the shock of our young lives! Arriving at the field early to warn-up, we were surprised to see so many adults behind the opposing team's dugout But what disquieted us even further was the fact that our opponents were being coached by their parents.

We won the first game, but loss the next two and the championship. That was minor compared to what we witnessed during the course of the event. From the very first inning of the initial game, all we heard was screaming" from these father/coaches -- at their kids and at the young umpire. This display did not only unnerve us, but we genuinely felt sorry for our peers on the opposite side of the field. Although we were naturally disappointed with losing the championship, we felt relieved for our adversaries. Our youthful minds conjured up images of our opponents being beaten at home if they would have lost the series.

The same is often true in today's smallfry wrestling arena. Many father-coaches do the right thing, but for the wrong reasons. Besides often seeing to it that their sons make the squad, they are usually the coaches who are the biggest troublemakers at tournaments -- especially when their offspring are competing in dose matches.

Oh, I had coaches during my youth wrestling days. However, they were not related to any of the wrestlers, and they were coaching solely out of love for the sport.

Of course, my father also helped my brother and me hone our athletic skills in the yard or in the confines of our home... but he NEVER underminded the coaches or officials who guided us.

I believe there are some father-coaches who do a great job with their sons and others' kids. Unfortunately, most dads coach primarily for their own children, and they are commonly the ones who lose "total perspective" regarding the purpose of youth sports.

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