Some coaches need to see the damage they are doing

The Editor:

I am writing this letter because I have some concerns with not only the SAHA but with some coaches in small-town Saskatchewan.

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I am not going to mention names because I don’t want to specifically point a finger at one person, but they will know who they are when they read my comments.

You read articles and advertisements in the paper and on television about getting kids who want to play sports into the games. Some have a good grasp of the game, others are just learning or want to play because they like hockey, baseball, soccer, etc.

I am going to talk about hockey here.

Some coaches, not all, but some in towns like Lampman,  think they are coaching future NHL players. These coaches have no regard for the player who is not as good, or, they think is not as good as their favourite players, so they let these kids ride the pine, sit on the bench, whatever you want to call it.

These coaches are not encouraging team play. They are promoting poor sportsmanship among the players themselves. If a coach is treating a player poorly, the team will also treat that player poorly. Example: When one player was not doing well in a couple of games, they made him the water boy and gave him an unflattering nickname. The coach berated this boy to such an extent he left the team for a year to play in Estevan where he was treated fairly and played regular shifts.

This player wanted to return to Lampman to play with his so-called “friends” only to have the coach ask him why he came back. What kind of coach would take offence when a kid wanted to play in his home town with kids he has grown up with? This is not acceptable by any adult. This coach, along with others, has bullied this kid for so long, he has now quit hockey altogether. The team got what they wanted. Sad, isn’t it, when adults teach kids to bully someone. I wonder what they would do if it were their child that this behaviour was happening to.

When I coached hockey (back in the day), it didn’t matter what skill level the kids had, they each took a shift. No one, not even the kid who could hardly skate, sat on the bench for a whole period or missed a shift. Not once did I berate any kid, especially in front of the team or other parents.

I had a young man who had never put on a pair of skates in his life, 12 years old, no equipment to speak of, and I got him on my team. This boy played his shift all the time. It didn’t matter if he fell down countless times, he got up and played. We taught him how to skate, how to shoot and to this day, when he sees me, he thanks me for allowing him the opportunity to learn and for giving him a chance, so now he can teach his son to play the game.

Coaching is mentorship. You are there to teach sportsmanship, team play, as well as the basic game. You’re there to give the kid with no skills … whether it be hockey, baseball or whatever sport he or she is into, the opportunity to learn and play.

You volunteered to help teach kids, not to put them down and make them feel bad because they aren’t meeting your expectations of a winner. There are always going to be kids that want to play sports but don’t have the abilities they need in the beginning. You’re there to give them more abilities, to build self-confidence and to make sure the team is doing the same thing on and off the ice or diamond.

Hockey, in particular, is a rough game. Some kids are aggressive, others not, but given the opportunity they all get the job done, whether they win or lose is irrelevant. The game is played, the kids enjoyed it and each other, and that is the end of it. This is house hockey, not a tiered team, there are no double or triple A hockey players in house hockey. They may think they are, but they would have been picked up by a double or triple A team whether it be in their home town or the next biggest town.

The only lesson I want to offer everyone who reads this, is that there are kids out there that maybe have a hidden disability, or is not your wannabe NHL player that just wants to play and learn. So the solution is to get the right coaches in there to teach the skills needed in a compassionate manner. Leave the bullying coaches at home. We don’t need them or want them teaching our kids anything.

Another thing, parents, you may think a person (coach) is the greatest because he yells a lot or lets your kid have all the ice time, but you had better put your feet in the shoes of the kids who don't get to play and the parents whose hearts break because they see the pain and hurt on their kid’s face. These coaches are already setting these kids up to fail and who knows where that will lead in later life?

Think about this long and hard.

Jim and Noreen Klassen


© Copyright Estevan Mercury


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