Today’s guest post is written by Amy Grew, high school volleyball coach and blogger at www.spreadalittlethin.com.
My mom coached volleyball and tennis for 20 years. Four of which I played for her, as did my sister.
My dad has coached most sports but the main ones are football (32 years) and softball. I played softball for him for 4 years also.
I grew up thinking that vacations revolve around practices and matches. Tournaments took precedence over dances. Friendships involve teammates.
Family time consisted of us being coached by one of our parents. We all went to each sporting event, no matter who was playing or coaching. That’s what our family did and still does.
This was my normal. It was all I knew. I literally grew up in a gym, on a court, and on a field.
Now, I am a volleyball coach, married to a tennis coach.
We live the same lifestyle that I grew up with.
Some families don’t know much about what it takes to be part of a team or program. They don’t know how much commitment it takes to play a sport and be good at it.
I ran into this most recently within my own family.
My mom and I went to watch my cousin’s JV Basketball game with my aunt. We were talking and enjoying ourselves in the stands. We cheered on the team. I enjoyed being a spectator instead of the coach for once. Suddenly the crowd started getting louder and the game got tight. My cousin was playing aggressively, working very hard, supporting her teammates, and making good decisions.
My aunt didn’t see it that way. She yelled at the official and the other girls, making comments and laughing.
My mom and I glanced at each other and wondered, what the heck is going on?Is she always like this?
Being a coach, I knew my place as a spectator. I was a guest in their gym and wasn’t going to yell at anyone. I would yell for people. I cheered for the girls, appreciated their hard work and enjoyed a great game.
This is hard for many parents and spectators to remember, but how was it happening in my sports family?!
Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I perceived. After all, no one was giving us dirty looks or asking us (us = my Aunt) to tone it down. But this just wasn’t what I expected!
I wouldn’t want the players on my team to be treated like this. I wouldn’t want the parents to think this is acceptable.
I just don’t believe there is a place for it in sports, or anywhere else for that matter.
I remembered this when I had my parent meeting the following volleyball season. I outlined what I expect from the fans, just like I outlined what I expect from the players.
I explained that as coaches we have goals for each game and that may not be to win, though we would love to win. They may not understand why we set them, but if they asked their daughters about the goals they will be able to explain them.
I told them that the 2 other coaches and I are the only ones to address the officials. It’s part of our jobs and we will take care of it.
I explained that if there were unruly fans, they would be asked to leave, whether they are from our own team or a guest.
I asked the parents to report to me or the athletic director if someone was being rude to our athletes and we would take care of the situation.
By talking about these expectations, I want to help parents who are less sports-oriented feel more comfortable at matches.
I learned quite a bit about bleacher etiquette from the instance with my aunt. These were things I rarely hear and dealt with being on the bench instead of the stands.
As a young coach I grew from this experience. I learned that not only do I need to coach the athletes but also their parents. I need to set clear expectations for the athletes, parents, coaches and myself.
Amy grew up playing sports. She played tennis, volleyball and softball in high school which lead to playing volleyball and tennis in college. Her true passion is volleyball. She hopes to share her love for the sport through coaching and is starting her 3rd year as a Varsity Volleyball Coach in Michigan. Amy also has 3 kids, a husband and a dog that help fill her non-coaching time. You can check out her crazy life at www.spreadalittlethin.com.