I started playing lacrosse in the 4th grade, played through high school, and then was fortunate to have the opportunity to play D-I lacrosse in college. Despite six knee surgeries, the countless concussions (before they worried about such things), and the number of sticks I’ve broken through the years, I still play in a men’s summer league. Lacrosse is the best sport in the world and I simply still love to play.
Where I live, lacrosse is growing rapidly in popularity and there is a need for coaches who know what they’re doing. Due to my experience, I was asked to be the Head Coach (HC) at the local High School. It was a fun year with the players, but I also learned important lessons about life, business, and parenthood.
4 Lessons Learned
1> Focus on One Main Goal at a Time
I launched the Goble Group in 2011 and took the HC job thinking I would be able to do both. I believed it was a chance to give back to the youth and help grow a sport that has provided me with many opportunities.
Um, it didn’t work out as I had really planned.
While I gave my best to coaching lacrosse, the growth of my business stalled, making our family financial situation much more scary than maybe it would have been. While the opportunity to coach was good, when I was reflecting on the season, I was reminded that good is the enemy of great.
2> Coaching is a Family Affair
I talked with my wife about coaching before I committed to doing it and I did have her blessing (I’m not that crazy!!). Missing family dinners and events due to lacrosse were tough for her and our daughter, as she wasn’t accustomed to that growing up. Sometimes due to my work and game schedule, I wouldn’t see my daughter on a particular day and only see my wife as we were getting in and out of bed. So many professionals lament about missing family events and how kids grow up so fast, I’m determined not to be an absentee parent because I’m off doing something else. For me, family has to be priority #1, even if it means letting go of other opportunities, including good ones.
3> Parents Aren’t Always on Your Side
Parents say they want the best for their kid, but only as long as the parents get what they want too. This was the hardest lesson for me to realize during the season. One of my goals this year was to begin changing the culture of the program; to bring more discipline and structure where negative parental influence had played a major role. I made tough choices that didn’t sit too well with some parents who were more focused on benefits for their own son versus the team, and constantly felt encouraged to share that with me. As a parent, you can do more by encouraging your son/daughter to communicate better with the coach when you or they don’t like a decision. More often than not, your son/daughter knows why something is (or isn’t) happening, they just don’t want to admit it to you. As long as your kid’s coach is not physically harming your son/daughter, is not verbally abusive, or teaching them to be a cheater, let them learn and don’t be a helicopter parent.
4> Youth Today are Engaged in the Community
One of the things I was most proud of this season was our teams’ support of a lacrosse specific non-profit organization: the HEADstrong Foundation. In support of HEADstrong, players and coaches wore lime green relentless shoelaces in a show of solidarity with the larger lacrosse community in the fight against blood cancer. We were able to receive some good press coverage about our efforts, all helping to build a better lacrosse culture in our own lacrosse community. As much as I love lacrosse, the impact we have in the lives of someone else, are far more important than the games we play.
Are you now or have you been a coach, a parent, or a student-athlete? What are your thoughts and experiences about high school coaches?