If you have ever thought about the impact that volunteer coaches have on your son or daughter, then you'll really like this next story.
I was in Texas giving a talk to a group of youth sports administrators about the importance of the coaches in their program being a positive influence on the kids they were coaching. I remember saying to the group, "Your coaches have a choice and that is that 20 years from now which one of the statements do they want the kids to say: Our Little League coach was the biggest jerk you could ever meet; or our Little League coach was one of the greatest people you could ever meet."
After the session was over a guy came up to me and said, "I know exactly what you were talking about when you described how some coaches can change the direction of kids' lives. But let me tell you my story that will make you feel good."
He went on to tell me that before he became a recreation professional and a youth sports administrator that he had coached kids for five years and that about 15 years after finishing his role as a Little League coach he received a phone call out of the blue from one of the kids that had been on his team all those years ago.
"I was flabbergasted," he said. "I didn't even remember who he was at first."
He went on to say that the reason his former player called him was that he wanted to know if he would consider being the best man in his wedding.
"I was completely dumbfounded," he said. "I said, 'Why me? I'm sure you must have many friends that you would like to serve as your best man.' And then he said to me the most heartwarming thing you could ever imagine. He said, 'Coach, you had more positive influence on me than anyone. My dad left home when I was three years old and I was left with no father figure to guide me. The way you coached our team by keeping everyone positive and in a good mood meant so much to me that having you as my best man would be one way that I could pay you for your kindness.'"
Youth sports gets too many "black eyes" from the jerks out there who preach win-at-all-costs to young children.
It's stories like the above one that reminds me of my own son's baseball coach. He too was the ideal kind of coach that you would want coaching your kids. He taught all the kids how to respect authority and kept his quiet demeanor in a way that you couldn't help but be pleased as you saw your child not only playing the game of baseball, but learning valuable life lessons in the process.
This is exactly the message our non-profit preaches daily to thousands of recreation agencies across America who implement our training program for coaches, parents, administrators and officials of kids' sports.
It's what youth sports should be all about.