A group of Canada’s often unsung community contributors are being recognized this week.
Last week was National Coaches Week, a week held “to celebrate the tremendous positive impact coaches have on athletes and communities across Canada,” the website coach.ca says. “This week is an opportunity to recognize coaches for the integral role they play by simply saying #ThanksCoach.”
National Coaches Week promotional material points out that sport is the biggest volunteer segment in Canada. That’s not surprising. Right here in southern Alberta, we have a vast network of youth sports leagues and organizations offering young people an opportunity to play sports, and it wouldn’t be possible without the many coaches, most of whom are volunteers.
Coach.ca notes, “Coaches across Canada give athletes the benefit of their knowledge, enthusiasm and passion in sport. Coaches dedicate their time to helping youth build confidence, self-esteem, and foster positive body image development through participation in sport.”
Good, caring coaches are a positive influence on the young people they worth with, and can teach and inspire young people to become healthy adults who might well go on to influence the next generation in a positive way.
It’s an aspect touched on in an article titled “The Ripple Effect: The influence a coach can have on young people and the future,” on the website http://www.connectedcoaches.org, by Steve O’Keeffe, who spent “years coaching young people from ‘deprived communities’ in the UK.”
“If you coach at a community level, you have got the most important job of all… Your influence as a coach can have a ripple effect through generations to come,” O’Keeffe writes.
“It can change someone’s life.”
O’Keeffe was a beneficiary of such influence in his own youth, when he reflects on “the coaches that have had such positive influence on me as a young person growing up in an area where all I knew was crime and violence.”
Writing in the Salt Lake City newspaper the Deseret News, Amy Donaldson noted, “A coach can change a child’s perception of hard work, of competition, and maybe most importantly, of themselves. In nearly two decades of telling the stories of successful athletes, I nearly always hear one common detail. Somewhere along the way, the kids who find ways to succeed have coaches who believed in them.”
Coaches willingly give countless hours of their time so that young people can enjoy sports participation. They help these youths develop their skills in their chosen sport and, more importantly, help them learn important life lessons along the way. In cases where young people might be dealing with a difficult home environment or unhealthy peer influences, coaches can be valuable mentors to assist them in navigating troubled waters.
For all they do, coaches are well deserving of a heartfelt “thanks, Coach.”