Why I Love Coaching Softball
The question of “Why do I coach”; is both the easiest and the most difficult question I could answer. It is easy because coaching is my favourite activity, and most difficult because how can you possibly explain why you love something that is so central to who you are. I absolutely love coaching and working with athletes is my favourite thing to do. When I was in Teachers College, we were given the task of writing an essay about what made us want to be teachers. For me, it was always a vocation but my favourite Professor told me that to be a successful teacher you need to have 3 loves; 1) Love of your subject area 2) Love of teaching and 3) Love o people. He was right, and the same rules apply to coaching.
I absolutely love softball, love teaching skills, and love working with people. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach at every benchmark of the Long Term Athlete Development spectrum. My first coaching experience was with u14 House League Boys team, and my most recent is a 45+ Masters Women’s team with nearly every age group and level in between. With each group of athletes I learned something new about coaching, and now believe that coaching is coaching, regardless of what age group or level.
For someone like me, who is in love with the sport, and considers himself a student of the game coaching athletes at different age groups and skill levels provides an opportunity to analyze the game from different perspectives. In our sport, everyone needs to learn how to hit, but the process of explaining a skill to an 11 year old is quite different than when you work with an adult. It is those challenges that make coaching fun and interesting. Every training opportunity or competition brings new challenges which truly make coaching fun.
Teaching a skill is one thing but coaching can be a result based endeavour.
For a coach to succeed, the athlete has to perform the skill. This transition, from a coach’s mind to an athlete’s performance is the best part of coaching. Having the privilege to watch an athlete you have worked with perform a skill you taught them is the best feeling for a coach, and the reward is evident in the athletes face.
Of all the reasons I love coaching, the most compelling is the relationships you get with athletes. I recently stepped down from the uOttawa softball team and was extremely touched and flattered to receive notes from alumni reminiscing about their experience with our program. I feel honoured work with such a kind and committed group of people who have gone on to great careers and are working to improve their communities. On a personal level, I feel privileged to be included when our alumni get married or have children and truly cherish the relationships made on softball fields. Why do I coach? My answer is the same as John Wooden’s, where else would I find such splendid company.