I would like to begin by saying that I am not in favor of “participation” trophies for youth athletes. The reason is not that we are giving out trophies to every player; instead, it’s the lack of creativity in what we call them and the meaning behind them. After coaching dozens of youth teams, I know that an eight- year-old player who came to practice, worked hard, played in the games and cheered on his/her teammates is not excited to be recognized as a “participant.” As parents and coaches, we have to be able to come up with something more meaningful than “participant.” [Read more…] about Sport Participation Trophies: A New Perspective
(this blog was previously published on the TeamSnap blog)
I am a crybaby. Sometimes, I cry when I’m inspired or sad. Sometimes, I cry from disappointment or joy. I cried when my high school football team won the state championship. I even cried during an episode of Hannah Montana that I watched with my then 5-year-old daughter.
I’m sensitive, and a lot of things make me cry, especially the things I care deeply about. Tears are an expression of how I feel, and I don’t hold them back. In fact, I recently presented a leadership award to a 9-year-old athlete with tears in my eyes. I had to stop a few times during my speech to settle my voice. I am happy to report that during my speech, not one person attending shouted, “Suck it up, big boy. There’s no crying in award presentations!”
Why is it that that when kids cry during sports, they are labeled “crybabies”? When a kid cries, it seems to be some horrible indication of weakness. What I find most surprising is that the parents are usually the ones that get the most upset and embarrassed when their child cries.
We spend countless hours coaching and encouraging our kids to work hard and give it their all. Before games, we preach about having fun, making an effort and believing in yourself. It’s a fact of life that things don’t always go the way we plan. We will all experience the pain of failure. We won’t always make the tackle or record the strikeout. Throughout our lives, reality will often fall short of expectations regardless of preparation or how much we believe in ourselves.
Why cry? Because it hurts!
I have coached kids between 5 and 12 years old for many years. Each season I have been blessed with a few kids who work so hard and care so much that they cry when they fall short of what they expect of themselves. Here is a conversation I had with our pitcher after he hit two batters and allowed five runs in one inning. To set the stage, our pitcher came into the dugout in tears. His father immediately gave him a stern talking to and essentially, if not literally, told him to “suck it up.” I went over and sat next him on the bench.
Me: “Are you OK?”
Pitcher: (Sobbing loudly)
Me: “Are you tired of hearing that there is no crying in baseball?”
Pitcher: (Sobbing slowed)
Me: “What would you say if I told you that’s a lie? There IS crying in baseball. After all, there’s crying in life right? I cry sometimes myself and I’m a tough old man.”
Pitcher: (sobbing stopped and he looked directly into my eyes)
Me: “When you really care about something, and it doesn’t work out; it’s OK to cry. It shows how much you care. One of the things I like most about you is how much you care. Don’t ever stop caring that much about baseball and what you have to offer to your team. Are you OK?”
Pitcher: “Yes, sir.”
Me: “You can keep crying if you have to, but I need you to finish it up soon because we need you. The game is not over, and your team needs you.”
I’ve had similar conversations with kids from dozens of teams and in dozens of situations. After each conversation the child felt accepted and understood, which enabled him or her to accept, own and grow from his or her failure and frustration instead of hiding because of the fear of ridicule. Failures can be the signposts on our journey to success if we read them, understand them and take action. Pretending failures don’t matter and bottling up the emotions is not the way to build strong and emotionally balanced kids.
I am a crybaby because I care … just like the kids I get to coach.
“I’m a volunteer youth coach, however, I don’t coach football, baseball, basketball, soccer or any other sport for that matter. I coach the kids that play them. This is not a play on words; it’s a paradigm shift in the way a youth coach views his or her opportunity and responsibility. STOP coaching the sports played by kids and START coaching the kids that play the sports.” –Brad Jubin, APIVEO
It’s a matter of perspective
We teach our kids to not listen to what others say about them yet nearly everything they do is graded or evaluated by someone. “If it’s not important then why is it important?” is an interesting paradox. Some of this confusion is eliminated when “you consider the source.” In other words, knowing if the person that made a statement is or is not qualified to make that statement. While this is often true it still doesn’t give a steadfast rule on who and what we should or should not listen too. Ironically, some of the most unlikely people will share some of the most profound insights at the most unexpected time.
A few weeks ago I watched a story on TV about the man who killed Osama Bin Laden. The man who pulled the trigger is a Navy Seal and he is as humble as he is brave. His story was riveting, but there was one comment he made that really resonated with me; in fact, I still haven’t stopped thinking about it. He said that he and his team were the “tip of the spear.”
The “tip of the spear,” it’s not an uncommon phrase; especially in the military; but it is such a powerful statement. When you think of a spear, the tip is the leading edge. The tip is the business end; the point of entry; the focus. It’s safe to say that leadership is the “tip of the spear” in nearly all aspects of our lives.
As many of you know, my family and I, along with a few of our friends, founded and run an organization called APIVEO. Through APIVEO, we encourage and equip youth coaches to teach kids about leadership. In addition, each month we celebrate a child that has demonstrated leadership in their home, church, team or community.
Each time we honor one of these amazing kids I get to stand up and share their leadership story with hundreds, and sometimes thousands of people. When it comes to APIVEO; I am the tip of the spear. I am the face and voice of APIVEO. Leaders are the tip of the spear in their organizations, teams and groups. The kids we celebrate through APIVEO are the “tip of the spear.” Our Pastors are the tip of the spear in our churches; our coaches are the tip of the spear in our youth sports.
God gifted me to lead and I am thankful for that. He called me to APIVEO, and I am thankful for that. However, what I am truly thankful for this year is not my capacity or opportunity in leadership; it’s not “being” the tip of the spear…I am thankful for the spear. You see, without the spear the tip would be…well…POINTLESS! My bride Kristy and our kids Madison, and Christian are my spear. I may get to stand out in front and do most of the talking, but without them I would have nothing to say. The tip might be the business end but without the strength, momentum and power of the spear, the tip is virtually irrelevant. Think about it; a spear is not pulled through the air to its target by the tip. No…it’s the spear that carries the tip to impact. It is Kristy, Madison and Christian that carry me and I am grateful.
Most of us will never go into battle with the Navy Seals. But all of us are leaders in one way or another. This Thanksgiving I encourage you to take a minute and think about the spear in your life. Think about the people that look to you for guidance, advice, and leadership…and look back at them with gratitude for trusting you to stand at the tip of the spear.
Happy Thanksgiving friends.
Congratulations Sarah and thank you for Always Playing IV Each Other!
Watch Sarah’s inspiring story of leadership on CBS Atlanta with special guest presenter, Mary Plant.
Excerpt from the APIVEO Player of the Month award ceremony;
Today we celebrate Sarah Foy because she Always Plays IV Each Other. There is no doubt that Sarah puts others first; but it’s important to know that she doesn’t do it by putting herself second. Sarah doesn’t simply get out of the way so someone else ends up in front of her. She knows that won’t actually help anyone. Instead, she rolls up her sleeves and cares for people; she lifts them up and puts them in places they can’t always go on their own.
Sarah is a gifted athlete. While I never saw her swim, I have seen a couple of inspiring pictures of her in the pool. I have no doubt that Sarah has a lot of awards and victories. But that’s not why she’s standing up here today. At the ripe old age of 10, Sarah is already true leader. Sarah knows the secret of leadership; LOVE! I have a friend that actually wrote a bestselling leadership book titled “Love Works.” Love always works! Sarah loves her sister, Hannah, and that love has led Sarah to become a volunteer with the Special Olympics. As a volunteer, Sarah leads kids to smile and have fun because she cares about them; because she loves them. The simple and pure love between sisters has overflowed into one of the greatest examples of leadership I have ever seen. My friend might have written the book “Love Works’ but Sarah, at 10 years old you are living it! You are a great leader! -Brad Jubin, APIVEO