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BENCHED AFTER 5 YEARS WHY I WON’T COACH MY DAUGHTER’S SOFTBALL TEAM ANYMORE
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L ife moves pretty fast, especially when you’re watching your kids grow up. For the last five years I’ve been the coach of my daughter’s softball team. I’m not tired of it; I could keep going. But people have to move on. In this case, she’s the one moving on — or, better put, moving up. My daughter is joining a competitive team that has paid coaches and travels even more. Now, instead of being in the dugout with my girls, I’ll be in the stands. I can’t remember the last time I was merely a spectator when she played. She plays other sports, of course, but I’ve never been in the bleachers when she plays softball.
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She’ll know that whenever she plays, I’ll be there to cheer her on.
Another reason it’ll be an odd transition for me is because, in one way or another, I’ve always been in leadership roles, never a spectator. I was captain of the rugby team in college, I run a physical therapy practice, and when my children were old enough to play sports, it seemed only natural that I would coach them. This will be a lesson in humility as I hand off the reins to someone else. Luckily, I still coach my son Ryan in lacrosse and baseball. I’ll probably do that as long as I can. But chances are he’ll eventually move on to places where I can only cheer from the stands, just like my daughter has. I suppose that makes this exercise in letting go good practice for the future. As the kids get older, they’ll continue to reach milestones. Sports will take up more of their time. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, so I ask them regularly if they’re getting burned out. They never are. If the day comes that either of them don’t want to play anymore, I’ll respect their decision. I’ll take comfort in the fact that they’re taking valuable life skills — teamwork, time management, perseverance — with them when they go. Those attributes become a part of them.
“What I’ll miss the most is being able to be a positive influence in their lives.”
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It’s a bittersweet feeling, like most significant life events. It’s great to see my daughter and most of her teammates begin a new chapter. They’ll play more competitive ball with better, more experienced opponents and great coaches. If they stick with it, they’ll only progress from there. But I’d be lying if I said I won’t miss being in the dugout with them after six years of coaching. What I’ll miss the most is being able to be a positive influence in their lives. When you coach the same girls for so many years, you get to know their families. You teach them about the game and help them understand how athletics affect life. You see them learn skills like time management, multitasking, and teamwork. Those are skills that make them better people, and watching them grow in those areas is extremely rewarding. Being a cheerleading parent brings its positives, too. Instead of stressing too much about the outcome, I’ll be able to sit back, watch the game, and just enjoy it.
– David DeLaFuente
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