Your child’s success starts with you.

Your child’s success starts with you.
Well, this is kind of obvious. Although the focus in this small article is on sports, parents do indeed have a huge impact on their child’s future.

When our children are actively engaged in recreational sports it is already a huge time commitment in addition to the main one, which is being a parent. Now we also become hockey dads and soccer moms, and need to attend all games, driving around in various parts of the city, the province, and the country. Being a sports parent is like having another job, and it should be paid correspondingly, right? I totally agree. But the pay is different.

Imagine that you can not only watch your kids play from spectators’ bleachers, but be part of the team too. You can plan the game’s strategy as well as encourage and prepare your child to play way before the game starts. You will get to know all of their friends and gain their respect. You can have a much stronger bond with your child that will last forever. Do you want that? If you do, then you should volunteer as a coach for your children’s team!

Hello, for those of you who don’t know me, I am the Communications Director for Whyte Ridge Community Centre. Aside from this and my full-time job, I am also one of the soccer volunteers. I am responsible for U9-U12 Boys teams and player registration, as well as the assistant coach for my two sons’ teams. As we are getting close to our next soccer season, I keep thinking about one thing. Every time registration starts I watch the numbers and make some observations, and I see the same pattern year after year. The teams that have at least one parent who is a long time volunteer coach, team manager or convener, have far more registrations than the others. Puzzled by this discovery at first, it became apparent that the role of a volunteer is more important that it may look initially.
So I decided to ask some of the people I know that actively participate in recreational sports in our community.

Andrea Woytowich – youth soccer director, assistant coach:

There are so many reasons to be involved in your community. Volunteering for your children’s sports programs can have far reaching benefits well into your kids’ teenage years. Sometimes it’s hard to think that far ahead when you are watching your little 4 year old dandelion picker on the soccer pitch, wondering if he or she is ever going to get a foot on the ball or be interested in anything other than the snack break at mini soccer. But time flies and before you know it your kids will be busier and involved in multiple activities.

You can be a part of this important part of their development by volunteering as a soccer coach. The best part of this volunteer commitment is that you have already dedicated that time in your calendar to soccer and you need no soccer or coaching expertise to be involved. Whyte Ridge soccer thrives when parents step up to coach or manage their kids’ teams. Our most successful and popular age groups have a group of dedicated volunteer parents who coach and convene soccer in this community. These kids are able to play with the same core group of Whyte Ridge school and neighbourhood friends every year. They practice in Whyte Ridge and they play their home games in Whyte Ridge. None of this is possible without parental involvement. Please consider volunteering as a coach or manager this outdoor soccer season. You will meet some wonderful families and share some good times with your kids and their teammates.

I helped out as “blanket mom” when my daughter was 6 years old. She is 16 and still playing soccer. Being involved as team manager and female parent on the sidelines has given me a front row seat to watch her and her teammates grow into better soccer players and wonderful young women. They no longer pick dandelions or expect a snack break and I have learned a lot about soccer along the way.

Rachael Fecyk-Lamb and Karthi Pariyasamy – former mini soccer directors:

We have been volunteering in the extracurricular activities our son has been involved in since he was a toddler. Last year, we coached Jr NBA Basketball here in Whyte Ridge, and we have been involved with Mini Soccer since 2014. We think volunteering to coach is a great opportunity to spend time with our son and with each other. Being on a team together helps our family team. We talk about practices and games which is an experience we all share and this makes us a more cohesive family. It is fun to be in the action and involved in these extracurriculars after being apart during the day. We love putting our other commitments and phones away and just focusing on being together during soccer time.

We have also volunteered with Mini Soccer off the field as conveners and directors. We do this because these programs are important to us and to our community. We would not have sports programs for the reasonable fees we pay if there were no volunteers. We feel that giving ½ to 2 hours a week (depending on what point in the season it is) is a small investment to keep our great community sports programs running.

John Mathieson- Basketball Director, Youth Basketball coach:

When I think back to the time I was 6-12 years old (I’m old now), there’s not much I remember other than the soccer and basketball teams I played on. I can remember names, places, games and tournaments like they were yesterday. The sacrifice coaches make and the impact they have on our children play a large part in forming these memories. I had many outstanding coaches as I went through the basketball system in Manitoba, however of all the teams I was involved with when I was young, the ones I remember the fondest are the ones where my dad coached. So, the chance to coach my own son and give back to the game was a no brainer. I’ve now been coaching for 7 years and acting as the basketball convener for the last 3.

Coaching gives you a unique window into your child’s life as you get to see them interact with friends at a different level. The best part of coaching for me is seeing my son smile on the court and have fun with his teammates.

Whyte Ridge basketball offers a great opportunity to get involved in coaching and the best time to start is when your child is young. No experience is necessary. 5 minutes on YouTube and you’re ready to go. The age groups where we see the largest participation are the ones where we have coaches moving up with their child year to year. If we do not have coaches for certain ages, the chances are the kids who registered for that age group will get transferred to another community club that does have a coach. Volunteering to coach virtually guarantees your child, and their friends, will be playing together year after year.

For our older age groups (15-18 yrs.) we’ve been extremely fortunate over the last 2 years to have former players come back to volunteer to coach both our girls and boys team. This a great opportunity for university students to add some valuable experience to their resume.

Coaching is fun and rewarding so please consider getting involved.

In conclusion

Pretty soon you will start seeing signs on the fences, newsletters in the mailbox, messages in your email, Facebook etc. and you will know it is time. Time for you to become a coach to make a difference in your child’s life, and to earn respect from their friends and families. And to have fun, lots of fun!!!

Kirill Pirgalin

Communications Director and website admin for Whyte Ridge CC in Winnipeg, Manitoba