This article, entitled Is "Thank You" Enough? comes from Erin Ferris at http://amidwesterngirlincowboycountry.blogspot.com
Thanks to my son, five-year-old Will, my family has become pretty familiar with youth athletics throughout the last year.
We’ve been involved – to varying degrees – in nearly every aspect of Will’s soccer, basketball, and baseball teams, from snack assignments, uniforms, equipment, practices, games, and trophies to supporting coaches and becoming coaches ourselves. And though our commitment to these teams takes up quite a bit of our “free” time, we’re not complaining.
Organized athletics provide tremendous opportunities for growth: in less than a year, Will improved his athletic skills, learned to follow the rules associated with and apply strategies for three different sports, developed strong relationships with his teammates and coaches, and learned what it means to take pride in personal and team successes and to graciously accept defeat. (Well, he’s learned to accept defeat. We’re still working doing so graciously.)
Howdy! My name is Erin, and I am a wife, mother and writer living in College Station, TX. After eight years working in fundraising and volunteer management for the American Red Cross, my family moved across the country – from Michigan to Texas, which was quite the culture shock – and I decided a change in focus should accompany my change in geography. I now spend my “free time” (while preschool is in session and during naptime) sharing my experiences and cultivating conversations about parenting, cooking and baking, home and family organization, and philanthropy and volunteerism on my personal blog, my kid-focused blog and for the American Red Cross. And I’m loving every minute of it.
Will’s positive experience – and therefore our positive collective family experience – with organized athletics can be attributed in part to the quality of his coaches. His VOLUNTEER coaches. Coaches who care enough about their own and other children’s early exposure to and future involvement in the game that they’re willing to spend HOURS on the practice and game fields, and many more hours working behind the scenes to make sure the team is well-organized and that the kids receive equal playing time, improve their athletic skills, and most importantly, have fun.
I’ll admit, my experience as the parent of a youth athlete – three seasons of soccer, one season of basketball, and one season of baseball – is rather limited. But based on that experience, I’ve recently come under the impression that volunteer coaches, at least many of those who coach preschool and early elementary school-aged children, don’t receive a whole lot of appreciation for their efforts beyond the obligatory “thanks for a great season” brush-off on the way to the car after the final game.
If this is actually the case, I believe it’s imperative that we as parents change how we – and our children – say thank you to volunteer coaches. Because if we don’t let these coaches know how much we appreciate them, they won’t continue coming back season after season and the opportunity to grow and learn through athletics will no longer be available to our children.
Now, I’m not advocating for splurging on vacation packages or new cars for coaches. But we can all go beyond a casual “thank you” tossed in a coach’s general direction at the end of the season.
Out of curiosity, I Googled “gifts for coaches”. The most frequently suggested gifts fell into two categories: sports equipment (megaphones, stopwatches, water bottles, clipboards, whistle, and training tools like jump ropes and weights) and personalized memorabilia (plaques and photos of the team). And while it makes sense to purchase sports equipment for long-time coaches and personalized memorabilia for coaches who’s worked with the same group of kids for extended periods of time, neither category felt right for my son’s coaches.
So after talking it over with Will, we decided that for the time being, our end-of-the-season gift for his coaches would include a gift card to a local sporting goods store (so the coaches could choose to purchase either something for the team or something for themselves), a thank you note from me and my husband, and a thank you note from Will. The first time around it took Will more than 45 minutes to write the two thank you notes for his coaches, and all they said was “Dear Coach Clint/Lee. Thank you for being my coach. From Will.” But I know that Will’s coaches were truly touched, and that Will’s note, along with my note and the small gift card, let them know how much Will appreciated the opportunity to learn from them.
I’m curious – how do you celebrate the end of a youth sporting season? How do you say thank you to your children’s coaches? Do you give gifts, gift cards, and/or cards? If so, what do you typically give? What can we do to keep fantastic coaches coming back year after year?