NFL Evolution will feature a guest columnist every Tuesday, each with a different viewpoint of player health and safety from the youth level to pro football.
By Amanda Rodriguez, NFL Evolution columnist
In my role as parent advocate for my sons' youth football team, I heard a lot of grievances this past year. Weekly I received emails from parents expressing unhappiness over everything from the dusty parking lot to the handling of injuries on the sidelines.
You know what they say about opinions.
I feel like I can truly testify to the validity of that oft-heard statement.
Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed being the one people felt comfortable speaking to about their concerns. I'm a mom, too, and I always want what's best for my boys. That's what compelled me to find my place in our football organization. And it's why I approach each individual and their concern with care.
Regardless of the situation and/or my history with the individual presenting it, I worked really hard to listen as objectively as possible and always with the same goal in mind: to find a solution.
Sometimes that solution meant working with the coach and then, if needed, the commissioner to ensure that the issue was addressed. Sometimes that solution meant only listening and letting them know they were heard.
Sometimes that's all people really need anyway.
Besides, when you listen, you just learn so much.
Hours upon hours of listening later, this is what I know:
Five Things Moms Hope Coaches Know
- We like winning, too. It's just that when we think about winning, we think about it beyond the actual win/loss record of the team. It's about more than stats and playoff seeds. To us, winning might mean that we finally found an organization run by people who are committed to ensuring that our child develops in his sport appropriately. Or, that our son met a certain personal goal this season, while having the opportunity to learn some new things from a great teacher. Success and winning look different to every person, and while we appreciate what it looks like to you as a coach, we hope you understand how it might look differently to us. Ultimately, we hope that if we win, you will win too -- and so will our boys. In addition, a trip to playoffs sounds nice.
- We aren't really mad, we're just scared. And, probably confused. Unfortunately, sometimes, when we're scared and confused, those uncomfortable emotions also make us react with anger. It's mostly a defense mechanism. But it's also partially a product of lack of communication. We aren't trying to do your job, and we don't doubt your ability to coach. We just have to do ours and sometimes, especially when we aren't on the same page, those two jobs get in the way of each other. So, we need to know more if you want us to do better. Share you goals and expectations, listen when we do the same, and then we won't feel the need to storm around the field.
- We want you to help us define our role. Tell us what you need from us so we can make that happen. We want to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem, so point us in the right direction.
- We want to support you. Because supporting you means supporting our children.
- You're important. And we trust you with our lives. That little boy I bring to the field multiple times each week is my life. During football season he spends nearly as much time with you as he does with his own father, maybe even more. That means I expect you to be on your game. On the field and off of it, pretty much all the time. Does that mean you can't make a mistake? Nope, of course not. You're human. You just have to be a little bit super, like me.
Amanda Rodriguez is a humor and lifestyle blogger at *DudeMom.com. In addition to having a loose grip on reality, Amanda enjoys traveling to far off lands (or, not so far off lands) with her family and cheering herself hoarse on the sidelines of her sons' games. They will thank her one day, she's certain.*