This year I’ve been able to venture out to various high school events, which has allowed me to become reacquainted with a special breed of fan: Parents, or should I say, “assistants from the bleachers.”
Parents can be just as, if not more, passionate about the game and the success of their child as the actual child is. Athletes commit a lot of time to their sport, but parents also pour in time, money and other resources. I admire parents that schlep their kids back and forth and do whatever’s necessary to help them achieve success; in fact, there is no way that my career would have been even close to what it was if it wasn’t for my parents.
As a student/child/athlete, the best way to show your appreciation for your parents — or whoever provides your network of support — is to give your all, all of the time. I can remember hearing the “We don’t have to do this, I can take my time and money elsewhere” speeches when I or one of my teammates gave our parents some attitude. It’s true, parents don’t have to put in the time and effort to your sport, but for whatever the reason (usually love) they do.
On the other hand, once you reach college, that relationship will change slightly. You will no longer ride home with your parents after a game and have the “could of, would of, should of,” speech. Instead, you’ll have that conversation over the phone — assuming you answer the phone, and assuming they were able to watch the game.
Your parent will always idolize you — you’re their child and they think the world of you — but they aren’t your coach. If things aren’t going well, it can easily be misconstrued (especially from parents that didn’t play sports) that the fault lies with the coach, instead of the cold truth that other players may be better than you or outworking you.
College coaches watch parents just as much as they do the actual player during the recruiting process; they’re committing to the entire package — parents included — and want to know what they’re signing up for (i.e., screaming at their child, coaches, or the team the entire game).
Having your parents talk to your coach when you’re unhappy might fly in high school, but it only causes headaches in college. Those coaches make big-time money leading their teams and certainly don’t need help from a biased parent. On the collegiate level, it’s not unheard of for players to be benched as a penalty for parents calling about playing time.
If things aren’t going the way you envisioned, sit down with your coach and your parents. Ask what can I do? What aren’t I doing? Be sure to come respectfully, with the goal of everyone getting on the same page. If you’re still unhappy after you’ve sought resolutions, then go elsewhere. Most coaches would rather disgruntled parents and players go elsewhere, especially those that have formidable reputations.
There is a clear difference between passion and delusion. A lot of times that delusion can trickle down from parent to player, and can ultimately poison the entire team.
As a high school athlete your parents are still a major part of your career — I looked for my dad at every game through high school and college — but at the end of the day, your coaches make the decisions. If you, and your parents have decided to go with a particular program and coach, then let the coach do his or her job.
Be honest with yourself, and your parents. Your coach’s job is to help you grow, and growth is rarely comfortable. A perfect program doesn’t exist, and college transfers and some high school transfers have to sit out a year.
As much as our parents would like to shield us, that’s just not reality. And the same applies to sports; your parents can’t suit up for you.
About Transition Game
Monica McNutt was an All-Met basketball player at Holy Cross Academy who went on to star for the Georgetown women’s team. She will be offering advice to high school athletes who are looking to make the leap to college sports
Got a question for Monica, or an idea she can use for a future post? Leave it here in the comments, or email her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @__MCM__.
Advice for the young star athlete (Jan. 17, 2012)
Offseason is right time to get with the program (Jan. 3, 2012)
Managing to stay close to the game (Dec. 20, 2011)
Leadership, Tebow-style (Dec. 13, 2011)
The importance of attitude (Dec. 6, 2011)
Fine-tuning your “mistake response” (Nov. 22, 2011)
Looking beyond the stat sheet (Nov. 15, 2011)
Battling the “dumb jock” stereotype (Nov. 8, 2011)
Taking advantage of your athletic resume (Nov. 1, 2011)
College recruiting: Finding a program that fits you (Oct. 25, 2011)
Secrets to success: Food and rest (Oct. 11, 2011)
Introducing “Transition Game” (Oct. 4, 2011)