Coaches working to "Play Like a Champion"

A coach takes on many roles for athletes - parental figure, confidant, and disciplinarian.

But, there is a thin line between giving teenager guidance and abusing the role.

Members of the athletic community are being proactive to make sure the environment on the field or court does not turn into one of fear.
Coaches left the field and took over a building at Notre Dame for a summer weekend. They filled the seats in a classroom to make sure scenes like the former Rutgers basketball coach abusing his players do not play out again.

Earlier this year, video surfaced from the Rutgers team practices showing the coach yelling at players, grabbing them and even throwing basketballs at them.

"When you see something like that you know it is wrong," said Mike Lightfoot, men's basketball coach at Bethel College. "You would not want your son or daughter treated that way."

Lightfoot shared his thoughts on positive coaching. "A coach is a teacher," he said. "They should try to teach kids not abuse them."
Some of the same challenges are present on women's teams. The drive to win games can push a coach over the edge.
Notre Dame softball associate coach Lizze Lemire said it is about putting the team first, not personal agendas.
"Yelling is not the answer and the abusive actions are not the answer," Lemire said. "If you want respect, you have to act in a way that gains that respect."
The coach's role becomes even more important as teens move away from home for the first time.
"Oftentimes we become mom," said Erin Sullivan, assistant athletic director and softball coach at St. Mary's College. "We are the person closest to them. Something happens and the first call is to ach. It's a challenge but also a blessing."

Coach after coach in attendance to keep the bond with their players tension-free. They are studying up and sharing ideas for a better approach.

"It's nice having a group of coaches saying 'How can we remedy this?'" Sullivan said. "We are going back to thinking what is best for our kids instead of what is best for us."

There were about 140 coaches from as far as Canada, Seattle and Boston at this conference. Play Like A Champion Today also offers on-site workshops for coaches to learn more about nurturing young athletes.

And, there is "Parent Like A Champion Today" so moms and dads can also learn about motivating their kids without putting too much pressure on them.

There is a cost for the workshops but they work with each budget.
For more information, contact Lynn Kachmarik at 574-631-3774.

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