I read an impressive blog from a coach in Missouri who was stating how important it was for us as coaches to instill integrity and honor in our athletes. I was happy to see that his suggestions were all part of the team program that we have operated since Gymfinity’s inception. I was even happier to see that many coaches commented following the blog and they were all in agreement. How refreshing. Those times when I go to meets and hear coaches telling their athletes to “go out and beat” another team, or coaches leaving the floor of competition, athletes getting up and leaving once they get their award, gymnast’s throwing their “stuff” around the meet floor or the worst, coaches reprimanding meet officials in front of their athletes: I feel like our sports teams are really slipping into the character abyss. Then I read this. Thanks Troy for showing that there are a few coaches who prioritize honor, integrity, honesty, and reputation equally with the gymnastics.
Troy made some great points, and as I said; Gymfinity has done this since the beginning. But I promise we will make a concentrated effort to even display more sportsmanship in the future. What will we do:
We will remain in the competition area until the last athlete is done competing. Kids today seem to have less empathy than I can ever remember, we have this great platform to show our athletes how much everyone else wants the same thing that they do. This is the beginning of their ability to look outside of themselves and feel for what other people go through. It can be the start of true altruism for that individual child. And this, in turn, makes the world a better place. ** This had happened twice to us this year. Once we were the last team and there was no one left in the arena (they left for the awards session) except our team’s moms. This last weekend, I sent our team to awards while another team was finishing. I realized after the session how disrespectful that was and I was ashamed that my concern was getting my own butt in a seat. Sad. It will not happen with my team again.
We will keep our “stuff” (bags, clothes, shoes etc.) clean and organized when on the meet floor. I realize some people find this to be far-fetched, but I have seen some major messes at meets, and very recently. This is unacceptable on our parts as coaches! Kids are going to do whatever they are allowed to do. It is our job to teach them how to behave in these situations, and this is an important one, in my opinion.**
We will stay until the last award is handed out. We do this already, but I feel that we need to give respect to the other competitors. This is the same as leaving before they are done competing. It’s disrespectful.
We will continue to under-emphasize scores. Scores are not important at a meet, at least they are not the MOST important. Scores are, after all, one of the few tangible evaluation tools that we have in this sport. I am fairly sure that most coaches remind their athletes that the score is not the most important thing, but these same coaches (myself included) sometimes react to scores when they are actually at a meet. If we are to truly convince our gymnasts that scores are not so important, then we have to be very careful about our own reactions to those scores.** This is one of the most controversial topics in my gym. Some coaches who live by numbers and some who would rather they all just go away; and I agree with both. Scores are one person’s opinion of a performance and are affected by so many uncontrollable variables that they don’t bear any real weight. Yet, they are the only measure we have to mark progress, evaluation and mobility, so at times, they do bear some weight. It’s important but not of the utmost importance.
We will continue to support and cheer for other teams in our rotation. The greatest compliment we got this year was from the dad of a girl who was there competing alone for another team. She was adopted by our team and they talked to her during breaks, cheered for her when she went up, and congratulated her when she finished. During awards they all sat together and when we were all done, she even hugged a few of our girls. The dad came and thanked me personally and shook my hand. I assured him that it was an honor to have such a warm kid be with my team too. I think I smiled for about an hour after that. I have seen kids at meets that come over and talk to my team girls; I ask do you know her from camp or something? But often it’s just that they met at a meet and, though I forget, the girls remember because they value these other kids. I love that. I have kids who graduated and moved on and still stay in touch with “meet friends”. You never know the limits, or limitless potential of making a friend.
We will continue to help other coaches set equipment, or share space and time during warm ups. Our athletes look up to us like almost no one else in their lives. They emulate us without really even knowing it. When they see us helping out others, they will respond by doing the same in their lives. **
We have an obligation to teach these children and we have an opportunity to affect the rest of their lives for the better. If not for the lessons I had learned from my brothers( who coached me) and there coaches I would not be where I am today. I take very seriously the lessons that Gymfinity provides and I take very seriously the fact that it is our job to help you, as parents, to raise great kids.
** italicised parts are excerpts from the original post: Troy Wright