It was a while back, but we were at a meet: Sometimes during competition our small team might be grouped with another small team; and we were. You don’t get to pick who you’re with, and that sometimes is uncomfortable. Now I’ve been with great groups, fun coaches, coaches who inspire and coaches I admire. I’ve also been with the opposite. We’ve been with friendly teams, teams that my girls fit with, and the teams that are the opposite too. This was an opposite day. The other team’s coaches were arrogant, snide and usually as far from me as I could get. I feel a little contradictory since in a previous post I was raving about how great coaches are and how the sport has evolved, but to be honest there are still a few cranks. We finished our event and before switching to the next event we all watched as another team finished on Floor Exercise. The little girl doing the routine on floor was great. She danced with flare, she had beautiful clean skills and was fun to watch. She was about 10 years old and a cutie, she looked like “Boo” from Monsters Inc. She had a mesomorphic body (as opposed to linear or round, she was more square and strong-looking) like a Mary Lou Retton or a Shawn Johnson. I heard the 2 old-school dinosaur coaches next to me talking: “she’s pretty good.” she said. “Who, the fat one?” he said. “Yea, she could be better, if she came to our gym and didn’t waste her talent.” I openly started laughing. I know that’s rude and my own mom would have reprimanded me, but in the face of such idiocy I had no socially acceptable reaction.
The whole exchange started me thinking (uh oh). I wondered how a parent could allow such people to work with their kids. What kind of person thought that these two would be a good choice to act as role models for their pride and joy. Then it hit me. The parents either didn’t know, or they’re “nuts” too.
The nutty parents are fortunately very unusual for Gymfinity. But I have had my share in the past. The ones who think “how can anyone know I’m a good parent unless my daughter wins a lot?” There is not much a coach can do about those. I had one, many years ago; we’ll call her the “Olympic Mom.” I ended up asking her to leave the gym, after barring her from the lobby, having 2 public displays of her nuttiness and after explaining to the daughter why I had to make such a decision; that was the worst part. If the case is that the parents don’t know what type of coach they are dealing with, that can be understood. The dinosaur “coaches” are smooth and often tell parents just what they want to hear. I know it’s expensive but she will “win”. “She will make you proud and popular and this is the only place, and I am the only one who can get that for you.” Parents look for validation too. They want something tangible to show for the monthly tuition, the travelling weekends and the investment they are making. I can understand that, but I tell new team families that the biggest pay out you’ll get for your “investment” is intangible. My team parents get it, thank goodness.
Parents “hire” the coach to train and raise their kids in harmony with their expectations as a parent. The selection process is very important. It’s not like a little league where a coach is assigned. There is a real decision to be made. Parents should select based on interviews, observation and trials. We have kids who come to Gymfinity try the gym for a week before we allow them to join our team. We evaluate the kid and the parent so we know the relationship will be a positive one. Kids moving through the ranks of our program know what they are getting, and we in turn know them so the invitation to team is already thought out.
We take pretty seriously the people we put with your kids. They not only have to be knowledgable, but they need to “fit” the Gymfinity system and culture. They are background checked and their training and development continues the whole time they hold the job. Your decision is important and so is ours. I am very comfortable with how we hire and assign classes and team. There is a lot of thought to it. We have to decide if a coach is worthy to be called a Gymfinity coach; and when they are, rest assured, that they are not dinosaurs.