Getting Started

by Ryan Krzykowski

What a terrific time of year.  For those of us in education, who coach a fall sport, or both, it’s a time of new beginnings.  I love the feeling of a fresh start, and as we head into the fall months, I’ll be coaching a group of 6th grade boys in their football season.  For most of these kids it’s the first time they’ve put on pads, which is a pretty cool experience for them.  One of our guys in particular makes me smile — he’ll get into his stance, ready to do some seemingly mundane practice drill, and actually say out loud, “I’ve never gotten to do this before.”  Pretty cool stuff to see.

There’s a whole lot that goes into the launch of a new season.  Paperwork, league meetings, organizing systems to communicate with families and more.  But now we’ve made it through all that and next week is game week.  Almost eight years ago I defined my Coaching Purpose Statement — “I coach to help young people develop a love for sports and a love for others that will steer them toward becoming someone who will change the world for good”, and I can’t begin to tell you how large of an impact that statement has as I go through the day to day activities of a coach.  I view the entire experience differently.  Each conversation with a player provides a chance to say something positive that he’ll remember for years to come.  Each practice gives our group a chance to make each other better and come together as a family.

Last night we met with parents to explain the philosophy of our coaching staff.  We talked about some logistical question related to the season.  We also discussed spectator conduct at games.  We spoke about playing time and how to address questions about it.  We made it clear that at the youth level, giving all the players a chance to enjoy playing is more important than our team’s record.  We talked about the ride home from practice or games, and how it’s usually better to wait a day before offering constructive feedback — just let the kids enjoy the ride home.  I shared about how I learned that particular lesson by doing many of the wrong things with my older kids, and how I’m finally just now starting to get a lot of this right with my own sons.  One of the Dads came up to me afterwards and said he wished he’d heard that five years earlier.  One the whole, the parents were extremely supportive, and I am really looking forward to getting into the game schedule and seeing these families get to enjoy the experience together.  Over the next couple months, I’ll use this space to chronicle our season — the highs, lows, decisions made and lessons learned.  Right now, everything is new and it feels good.  We are ready to go.

Let’s Coach With Purpose…(coming soon, the Community for Coaches podcast)