Coaching Error

A friend told me this story about a turning point in his life:

“I was 12 years old, and I’d just been awarded the MVP trophy at the fall baseball banquet. Life couldn’t be better for a 12 year old, right? It was one of those ‘savour the moment” moments.  After giving me the trophy, my coach came over to the table to congratulate my parents, but what stays with me – even to this day – is that at the end of the conversation, I heard him whisper to my dad, ‘I can’t wait to coach Jay (my younger brother) because we all know he’s the REAL player.’

I didn’t say anything then, of course, but it hit me like a bolt of lightning. On the drive home, I asked my father about what the coach had said, and of course, my dad denied it. But he knew what I had heard, and I knew he knew, but what could he say?

And as I sat there and fumed in the back of the car, what hit me was, not just the pain and the sense of complete betrayal by my own coach, but the awful truth that the coach was right. My brother did end up surpassing me, and he became a star athlete and played right through university. But that night in the backseat of my parents’ car, as I heard my father lie to me, I realized then and there that while I was pretty good, athletics would never be MY thing, and that I’d have to find some other way to make my mark in the world.”

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One Response to “Coaching Error”

  1. Cristina Coraggio Says:

    I have to wonder if the comment made by that coach long ago defined or “boxed-in” your true athletic abilities. Positive words of encouragement are extremely powerful, as are (unfortunately) negative or put-down comments.

    How often do we as parents or coaches make the mistake — even if unintentional — of defining our sons and daughters by our words before they’ve had a fair shot at defining themselves?

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