Everyone likes to feel that the efforts they make for the benefit of others are appreciated and useful – particularly if they are volunteering. Most of my volunteering experience has taken place in an ice rink attempting to teach hockey players how to be a better player than I was. It is surprisingly common that we coaches expect our players to reach higher heights than we may have! Every once in a while something happens to remind us of our importance, or maybe more accurately, lack thereof.
A friend and I have volunteered as non-parent assistant coaches to a team of 12 year-old boys for the last several years. It is a perfect level of involvement for us. The weightier responsibilities bypass us and land directly with the head coach, yet we can still feel as though we are contributing in a small way to the development of young people into larger young people. Perhaps in a smaller than we would like to think.
One day in late January a player approached my friend during a practice, almost 5 months and perhaps 50 or more hockey events into the season, and asked him: Which one are you, Don or Jeff? After countless shifts in a game, skates tightened, words of encouragement and pep talks – he wasnt sure of our names? We would be hard pressed to claim we had made any sort of an impact on this boy’s life! But perhaps no impact is better than a poor one.
“We would be hard pressed to claim we had made any sort of an impact on this boy’s life! But perhaps no impact is better than a poor one.”
The incident would be a humbling one if we were inclined to take ourselves too seriously. As it was, it was mostly some side levity. Nonetheless, it is a reminder that maybe we as coaches take things a little more seriously than the task requires at times. From my own recollection, I cant even remember who my coach was at 12, let alone what wisdom he had to impart in his pregame speech. But I can recall which coach swore at the ref and yelled at the other teams coach. Perhaps what we do not say is just as important as what we do.
Thanks for reading,