Friday, June 6, 2008

A Tale of Two Coaches

I play basketball.
I won most improved player.
I earned a medal.

Mom says a slam dunk.
I am getting stronger now.
I dribble and shoot!

Lil' Expert has just finished his first season of basketball. At the beginning of the season, he had trouble dribbling and was unable to hit the basket with the ball. He was afraid of the ball. If he got the ball in a game, he would immediately pass it to another player as fast as he could.

Fast forward to Saturday's pizza party after the last game. The coach had all the kids gathered together to give out medals and pictures.  He announced he had a special award for one player. Lil' Expert got the award for being the most improved player on the team.  The prize was 550 tickets to redeem for prizes at the pizza place's prize counter. He was so proud and excited about the prize tickets. Of course, being his Asperger's collecting self he spent the tickets mostly on prizes ranging from 5 to 15 tickets instead of any large ticket items.  This meant a long time deliberating at the prize counter, and a large bag of prizes!

Lil' Expert's coach was fabulous. He pushed and challenged him, but he was also fast with encouragement and hugs after the game. As I have mentioned before, Lil' Expert can have social problems. There were times when my son got into trouble and had to run laps. I wanted to step in and protect him. I wanted to explain it was his disability and intervene.  I kept my mouth shut, and Lil' Expert rose to the occasion. This has been the most successful sports experience he's ever had.  

My other son, Storytellin' Boy also played basketball. Well, he started to play until we pulled him from the team after the first game. His coach took the game very seriously, even though it was a bunch of five year olds running willy nilly around the basketball court. The league did not even keep score during these games. 

Storytellin' Boy has his head in the clouds most of the time, and basketball was no different. During his one and only game, he did not really follow the action and was often in the wrong place at the wrong time. My goal would be for him to learn to be on a team, learn the fundamentals of basketball, and have a positive experience during the practices and games. Hopefully, he would learn to run in the right direction when his team had the ball by the end of the season.

His coach had other plans. She spent most of the game yelling his name, and occasionally would yank his shirt in the direction she wanted him to go. I don't mind a little redirection, believe me he needs it, but this coach really screamed at him. She screamed at other kids on the team as well. He did not respond to this, and seemed paralyzed like a deer in headlights. After the game another parent on the team approached me and said, "I didn't like the way the coach was yelling at your kid during the game."

I talked to the coach in a very diplomatic way, but she was very defensive. I don't think she understood my perspective and I probably didn't understand hers. During the game, she yelled at her own daughter (also a five year old), "Your playing like a girl." It's a coed team and her daughter is a girl! 

In many circumstances, I believe in sticking it out. I know my kids will eventually have to learn to tolerate difficult people. In this instance, I really felt the negativity outweighed the positives.  My son is five. I hope that playing sports will build his confidence and self-esteem. We decided quitting the basketball team would be best for Storytellin' Boy. 

Two different teams, two different coaches, and two totally different experiences. I am sure there will be many more sports and coaches to contend with in the years to come.

It's Haiku Friday! More poems at A mommy's place and Playgroups are No Place for Children   


maggie's mind said...

Amazing what a difference different coaches make, and it's really sad that some of them turn the experience into something other than the fun and exercise and teamwork and whatnot it's supposed to be.

Anonymous said...

i would have pulled my 5 year old, too. that's just nuts. good coaches make all the difference!

Kathryn said...

I would have pulled my five year old off that team too. They are FIVE! That is no way to build a love for the game. Or any game!

Congrats to the Most Improved! That is quite an accomplishment! Yay!!!

Genny said...

What a cute poem!

secret agent mama said...

I've learned about a coach's ability, or lack of, this year through soccer. Next season will be better, I'm sure.

Great haiku and great looking blog!

Karen of Sillymonkeez said...

Great haiku! I'm not looking forward to dealing with coaches, but I'm sure my day will come.

If you like to tell stories, I invite you to join in on my Tuesday meme "Silly Monkey Stories."

Have a great weekend!!

Elle said...

Great write up - life is such an adventure with kids, and it is such a challenge to know when to intervene and when to say out of it.
sounds like you got it right!

storyteller said...

Lil’ Expert … Most Improved!
Must be very proud ;--)

Seems like the right move regarding Storytellin’ Boy. Hope he gets a chance to play with a better coach sometime in the future.
Hugs and blessings,

anymommy said...

The coach really does make or break this kind of experience for kids. Sounds like you handled both situations beautifully.

I keep thinking things will get easier when me three toddlers get older...but really the issues get more complicated.

Dana said...

Great haikus!

I haven't played a lot of sports in my days, but I agree, a good coach is the key to kids loving sports. The hardcore coaches are rather intimidating.

Anonymous said...

how would you like to play with my balls? I love little boys