American Youth Sports; The Coaches, Players and Parents.

Jeff LeetsCorrespondent IJuly 2, 2008

As a youth football coach I am questioned often about the amount of intensity and energy I teach the game with.  While some appreciate it, others despise it. 

My first year coaching I took any criticism from parents to heart and at times took it a little too rough.  Those comments were few and far between the positives but being new to the coaching scene I really did not know how to handle it.  I thought "Are you kidding me?  I am out here every night busting my butt and they are complaining?"  As time passed and I learned how to handle things it became easier and easier to deal with the criticism and it did remain because let's face it, you are never going to please everybody.  My skin got a little thicker and I was able to get past that.  Some coaches don't and as a result we lose some good people that offer alot to our youth in the way of knowledge, experience and life lessons.  You can have the best intentions, put in the most work and go about your responsibilities the best way you know how and someone will complain.  It's inevitable.  It's how you handle it not only for your own sake but for the kids.

I have had what I thought were friends open their doors and homes to myself and my family only to close them once they thought I did not give their son a fair shake when in fact I did more then that.  I have had people that I was close to all but fall off the face of the earth after football was over because their son was playing for a different team in our program that next season.  Once I had no say so any longer they were gone.  Sad but true.  Still, we press on and continue or goal to mold young minds and bodies.  I have had rumors spread about my family and I.  Lies and deceit generated about events that have taken place.  Even though all of this happens, I stay.  We stay.

The men and women who volunteer our time to teach our youth the best we know how.  On my end I do it well.  In my 4 years of coaching my youth football teams have compiled a season win-loss-tie record of 36 wins 2 losses and 1 tie.  My teams have made it to the playoffs every year including a city championship in 07 and 08.  I am proud of that fact.  I am also proud of the fact that I take my work home with me.  It does not stop on the field.  For many coaches it does.  We put in the extra work, the kids see that and they end up doing that exact same thing more often than not.  That same work ethic stays with them long after football much of the time.  We want to teach these kids the correct fundamentals of the game and give them the tools necessary to be competitive and hope that they have a positive enough experience that they not only become good players but also fans of the game itself.  Them playing and succeeding improves their self esteem, attitude and work ethic.  Those things are priceless in our society today where negativity is confronting them at every crossroad and the video games and internet have all but taken away much of the outside activities that once ruled the nights after school, or the days on the weekends and during the summer. 

Along with the negative a good amount of positive compliments have come my way as well.  One parent told me "My son is a better person because of you.  You can see a change in his school work and the way he respects us at home now."  Those compliments make my and every other coach keep doing what we are doing  We do this out of the kindness of our heart.  Not for any paycheck.  Not for anything more than the kids.  Yes some of us are here because of our children but believe me it would be much easier to sit on the sidelines and not deal with anything but we are out there and it's because we care not just about our son's our daughters but all of these kids. 

I saw one of my players this spring and he was at a football camp.  He only brought cleats.  He needed tennis shoes to run in.  Mom was gone at work.  I went and bought him a pair of sneakers.  Why?  Because I know he needed them.  To this day he still thanks me and his mom does the same.  I could of turned my head.  Walked away.  It's his problem right?  Yes.  It is.  But one day maybe he remembers that and helps out someone in need because of it.  There you have it.  That is why we do it.

Too often the parents of our players are concerned about whether or not their son is being giving enough playing time our if he is being coached the way they heard is the right way or any other of the things we here from a long list.  The family members that actually get it, buy into what we are trying to accomplish and support us.  They work with us.  They listen to us.  They do not second guess and bad talk us behind our backs to their kids.  My take on that is this, if you are so willing and able to call the shots and coach the team then by all means, step up and volunteer next time since you have it all figured out.  Otherwise feel free to stay positive for the team's sake.  We volunteer our time that we could be spending with our families and doing other things we enjoy.  That should mean something. 

Remember, the next time you want to criticize the men and women who volunteer their time to coach our boys and girls in an effort to make them better people both physically and mentally that they are doing their best.  Sure you have some that are average at best but you know the good ones when you see them.  Support them.  Thank them.  Just being given a simple compliment makes our day.