Before You Complain…
Posted by Dean Holden at May 31st, 2015
by Special to USA Hockey, 24 April 2015
There’s nothing quite like watching your own kids play sports. There’s also nothing that taints the experience faster than a parent or two yelling from the stands or trash-talking the coaches or volunteers behind people’s backs. We’re all entitled to our own opinions, but when it comes to youth sports, can’t we all work together?
It’s easy to complain, but complaining accomplishes nothing. So ask this question when it comes to youth sports: “Before you complain, have you volunteered yet?”
In many cases, the parents who yelled and complained the most never stuck around to help. They rarely volunteered extra time to help with fundraisers, events, etc. They rarely showed up to the meetings, cooked food or helped carpool.
In today’s fast-paced life, we’re all busy and we understand that youth sports can take up even more of our time, but volunteer opportunities come in a variety of commitment levels.
It’s important to get involved, make the effort, build relationships and enhance the overall experience. It’s a chance for parents themselves to become part of the team; to become part of the family.
Volunteerism is the engine that drives the youth sports experience. That is especially true when it comes to hockey. The more volunteers we have, the lower the cost for everyone in the association. Every time you pitch in, the association, the team and the kids benefit. And let’s not forget about the ultimate volunteers: the coaches.
15 Ways to Volunteer
- Food prep. Bring snacks to tournaments, host the team for a spaghetti dinner or organize a potluck.
- Offer assistance with team or association fundraising events/campaigns.
- Carpool. Offer transportation services to and from games and practices.
- Record stats during the games.
- Run the scoreboard and game clock.
- Be a penalty box attendant (and hope your son or daughter doesn’t visit you).
- Assist with travel arrangements for games and tournaments when needed.
- Organize a social event for the team or even just the parents when appropriate.
- Recruit. Help spread the word of hockey to other families in your neighborhood. Assist or lead the association’s efforts to get more kids playing hockey.
- Offer to help with the end-of-the-year awards banquet.
- Help identify, order and pick up team apparel for the season.
- Volunteer for the concession stand.
- Serve on the association’s board of directors.
- Are there any equipment exchange programs? Offer help or get one started to lower the cost for families.
If you’re looking for a different way to contribute, just ask. The coaches will likely have something they need help with if you let them know you’re interested. They will be grateful you did.
Youth sports can be a wonderful experience for all when we work together. No matter what sport or season it is, we ask you to revisit this:
“Before you complain, have you volunteered yet?”
<It’s always the same thing: while coaching and being on the Board of Directors for a local Minor Soccer association, we seem to always hear the squeaky wheels, the complainers. And most of the time, the complaint is presented negatively or in an aggressive tone via email instead of actually talking to the person most related to their issue. This might be a way to let of steam, but wouldn’t it be more constructive to talk face-to-face? Sometimes, it’s a complaint stating that we don’t do X, we are doing Y and they don’t like Y. I have yet to hear a complaint based on science or recent experience! I wish more people would bring some possible (educated) solutions to the table; not just complaints! Those I would have all the time for if especially it will help improve our coaches, our players, our program. I know we aren’t perfect, but are are striving to present a professional, fun, development experience for the kids.
Today however was a great day! We had a couple of different parents come to our coaching team to let us know they thought overall, our U10/U8/U6 sessions have been great but today was particularly good. We thanked them and asked for specifics, so we could note these. I must admit, it is always nice to hear after all the negativity (most of which is easily rectified through a two-way, face-to-face, conversation where we can educate the people involved… because they didn’t attend our parent information sessions or closely read the description of our program!) Anyway, we understand that parent education is an ongoing process – and are committed to it – plus we have thick skin! – DH>