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Like Mom, LIke Son: The Rewards of Coaching Youth Sports Are A Family Affair

I feel that, even though I may have been born to be a coach, it was necessary to gain, hone and refine the skills I needed as I worked with athletes.  I earned a bachelor's degree in physical education with a certified minor in coaching education.  I also have become a certified coach in several sports.  Sports definitely helped me become who I am and I love them today as much as I did when I played.  I love to see children enjoying themselves through the medium of sports.  Winning is nice, but it's not the main reason to play.

I have coached on the college, high school and middle school levels, but by far the most rewarding time I've spent coaching has been on the youth level.  After a decade or so spent coaching interscholastic sports, I took a long break.  After I became a mom, I'm back on the sidelines again, with my 10-year-old son, Nicholas. I have coached him in basketball, baseball, soccer and flag football, and have gained a far different perspective as a coach with a child on my team than I did when I was merely the coach.

This spring, a new baseball league for children with disabilities - the Miracle League - announced it was beginning in our area, and was looking for buddies and coaches. I signed up as a coach and my son signed up to be a buddy.  Our team, the Red Sox, had players from 5 to 15 years of age on our roster, and my son became the buddy to a young boy with cerebral palsy. As often happens in these leagues, the players and the buddies developed bonds, and no bonds became tighter than those between my son and his player.  Since then, Nick has attended his player's birthday party, and they're planning a waterskiing date together. Their friendship, I'm sure, will transcend the realm of sports.

As manager of the Red Sox I had great fun, too, and can't wait to see some of my players in the winter, when I'll be coaching in our local TOPSoccer program. Nick will be a buddy there as well. We'll be back with the Miracle League again in the spring, too.

As team manager, I didn't have lots of time to watch my son but every time I had the chance to observe him with his player, he made me proud with his demeanor, patience and efforts.  Sometimes, when other buddies didn't show up, he got to work with two players in a game situation, and handled his responsibilities well.

As an athlete, I was good enough to play softball and volleyball at the collegiate level. My son is still playing several sports, as he decides which ones he likes best. It seems he'll be pretty good, too. I really believe I'm a better coach than I ever was as a player, and after our experiences with the Miracle League, I can only conclude I'm not the only person in my family who was born to coach.

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