Loyalty & Down Time
Over the past few years of working in youth sports I wanted to start this blog with these two particular topics because I feel like these two elements, loyalty and the concept of “down time”, get lost within the youth sports industry. This blog is meant to serve players, coaches, parents, and anyone interested in not only learning about the lacrosse world, but youth sports as well!
Over the past 5 years I’ve co-owned and operated a youth lacrosse organization and worked with 3 year olds trying a new sport for the first time, elite high school seniors who are going on to play in college, and everything in-between. Between my personal experience as a kid, my own college career, and now being a coach, I’ve witnessed A LOT. The world of youth sports is changing rapidly and it’s quite a wild ride. Hold on tight!
First, Loyalty. What does that even really mean?
I wanted to start with this topic because it is something that really hits home for me. As I've really settled into my adult life, I see how our generation is lacking in this quality. Just so we are all on the same page, I did a quick search for the definition.
According to Google, Loyalty is defined as:
"a strong feeling of support or allegiance."
Our generation has access to so much information now that we are always stumbling upon "better" stuff. It's no wonder we aren't sticking with anything! The moment we find something cool, something even better comes out and is posted to our Instagram feed to taunt us and tempt us to "trade in" and "upgrade." We are seeing this trend bleeding over into everything. Even youth sports!
Back story: My current business partner and I grew up on the East Coast and had phenomenal coaching throughout the entirety of our careers, so it was shocking to us to see programs across the country functioning without quality, or even qualified, coaches. No one was teaching the basics! (I was honestly in disbelief at first.) So unless you were lucky and took to the sport naturally, you were considered a lost cause, cut from the team, (or sat the bench) and were never even given a chance.
So, a few years ago we started TEAM Lacrosse Academy in San Diego, and later branched out to North Carolina. We wanted to provide youth girls a place where they could not only learn the game of lacrosse, but also acquire life-long skills that would translate to other facets of their life. It was our goal to teach these young athletes notonly the fundamentals, but also how to make adjustments, teach the ever-so-elusive "why" factor, and give them the tools necessary to improve!We brought in QUALITY coaches who knew the game and who truly cared about each of the girls they were working with and the message we were trying to spread. We didn't realize what we had when we started...
Fast forward almost a year -- We've been working with a core group of girls (most of whom were cut or made the "B team" with the surrounding clubs). Coaches and players alike saw the insane amount of improvement from that core group.
So what does all of that have to do with loyalty? Well, this is where it starts to get a little yucky; we have some players who now want to go back to the club that wouldn't originally give them the time of day. AND we have coaches, I'm going to call it "poaching"- because that's exactly what it is - poaching players that they've passed over for years because now suddenly they are showing promise.
Here is my issue on the player side of things: Why do you want to leave something that is working for you? **
Here is my issue on the coaching side of things: Obviously, that kid is in the environment they needed to be in order to get better. Are you really so selfish that you want to pull them out of that just for the sake of bolstering your team? **
** There are exceptions to this issue. Players and families leave clubs for valid reasons all of the time.
My point is this: Make sure you are showing loyalty to the people who deserve it and that you aren't "club hopping" for the wrong reasons. It is a poor reflection of you and your ability to stay committed to a team. Coaches, this is still youth sports! Let's make sure that we have these young athletes' best interest in mind when making decisions, not just our own.