Yesterday, our kids had the opportunity to work with a local Las Vegas group called Three Square. Three Square currently provides more than 34 million pounds of food and grocery product – the equivalent of more than 28 million meals – per year to nearly 600 Program Partners including non-profit and faith-based organizations, schools and feeding sites throughout Southern Nevada.
We wanted to give our kids the opportunity to give back to the community that they are growing up in. A lot of times kids don't realize how fortunate they are when they have food on the table every day, a ride to school, or new clothes to wear. I think by exposing them to the fact that there are kids in this town who may not be as fortunate as them forces them to really think and contemplate how lucky they really are. Now we know that packing lunches isn't the answer. Putting 8 apples in and sack and shipping it off seems to be just busy work to a lot of these kids, but we want them to take a big picture look at WHY they are doing what they are doing not just WHAT they are doing.
At Lacrosse Force, we constantly talk about being men for others. Three Square was a great opportunity for kids to give back and be boys for other people and not just themselves. For me, the reason that maturity and character development are so important at this age, even more important than X's and O's and winning or losing, is because everything trickles down from the top. If you put intangible traits at the top (i.e. Character, Honesty, Integrity), then everything from there will follow. A young man who has established character and integrity will work harder on his own at home, when he comes to practice he will focus, listen to the coaches, and do all he can to help his team succeed. He is holding himself accountable which in turn will help to hold his team accountable. Coaches help create these traits in their players by being positive and coaching beyond the game.
What does it mean to coach Beyond the Game? I believe it is our job as coaches to instill these values into our players. Far too often, I see coaches who are more worried about the outcome of the game than the kids are. When you have a coach who cares more about winning and losing than the kids do, there is most definitely something wrong. It is our duty as coaches to put our kids in the best possible possition to be successful. We are trying to create success on the sports field and also success on the field of life.
Joe Ehrman describes a coaches responsibilities best in his book Inside Out Coaching: "I am a transformational coach who has the position, power, and platform, to make a positive difference in the lives of my players. I coach to help boys become men of empathy and integrity who will lead, be responsible, and change the world for good. I allow for accountability and take responsibility for my actions."
Before you as a coach go to your next practice, take a second to remember the impact you have on your players. Kids look up to every move you as coaches make. Lets make sure what they are looking up to is wholesome and something that can help change the community for good. Set a good example and kids will follow.