Home Education The “parental lens” of success in school sports

The “parental lens” of success in school sports

The “parental lens” of success in school sports

This is the second of three Idaho Education News articles published by West Ada faculty and coaches that offer information on decades of working with student-athletes.

Nathan White

When Coach War and I started this collaboration, we were both worried that we would become coaches who know everything. I don’t have this coach, it all came out in three easy essays. However, Jason and I have more than 50 years of joint experience in education and athletics, in addition to sports. While we don’t all know, this is also not our first rodeo.

Many times as coaches, we hold parent meetings that come down to the problem of playing time. Sometimes parents say that the coach mocks the player without playing with them. Often this problem with playing time is manifested in the fact that a family or player wanting to play in a different position is usually more “glamorous” in their eyes.

Bullying, intimidation and harassment

To illustrate this point, I would like to write about a time when I was bullied in my sophomore year of high school, how my parents coped with it – and how it was the best thing that happened to me.

When I was a freshman in high school, I was a freshman football team defender with a score of 9: 0. We used this option exclusively and I was a fast, athletic kid. In my freshman year, I apparently scored 20 touchdowns – even five in one game. I was convinced I was the next defender of the Nebraska option.

The whole community started in – we were going to be undefeated state champions by the time we got older. We were the first undefeated freshman team of all time, we had so many great athletes, and of course we had the greatest QB known to man. Well, maybe that’s what my 15-year-old brain started hearing and drinking the poison of publicity and expectations.

The whole offseason I already assumed I would start with a second year quarterback under Friday lights. I could try this. I was going to become QB 1.

On the first day of fall camp in my sophomore year, my coaches transferred me from a quarterback to a quarterback.

I was devastated. Didn’t they watch my freshman ?! Didn’t they hear how all the people said what we were going to do and how we were going to do it ?! How could I not play in the position I was put in here for? I’ve always been a defender since I started playing football! My coaches were wrong!

I did what any child would do – I went home and complained to my father. He knew my athleticism, my passion and my right to play quarterback. He absently looked up from what he was doing when I told him about my problem and said, “Well, you’re rushing like a scumbag. Maybe DB suits you better. ”

I was crushed – not necessarily by his assessment of my athleticism – but by the fact that he didn’t sharpen his sticks and pull out torches for our attack on coaches, the athletic director and the school. I started on him, that it was unfair and my coaches didn’t know and they just didn’t pay attention and I was the best defender, didn’t he think so too?

Finally my father had enough. “Nathan, I am a dentist. I know little about coaching football. So in matters of coaching I leave it to the experts. If they came and told me how to drill and seal my teeth at my job, I would bet they would be wrong because they didn’t spend 20 years on it. I bet if I tried to tell them how to do my job, I would also be wrong, because I haven’t coached football all my life. “

Today I understand the power and wisdom in my dad’s words. But the 15-year-old I was still angry and couldn’t believe he wouldn’t support me.

What I didn’t understand at the time that I now fully understand as a coach is that we at QB had three good athletes. There were two seniors who were junior defenders in the junior classes, and me. The best athlete of all of us was transferred to a wide receiver and ended up succeeding at all the conferences. Another senior played QB. I moved and eventually started studying on university security as a sophomore.

Many times coaching decisions come down to bringing the best players to the field at the same time. It doesn’t make sense for the top three to play in one position, so the two stay away. This is not how you win games.

The coaches even made me play in the JV 2 quarters a week because they were convinced that my future was not quarterback. Talk about insulting the injury – I didn’t even have time to play the JV defender!

I don’t know how I overcame myself, but now I know – as Paul Harvey would say – the rest of the story. I remember being upset by the “defender thing” because my brain was thinking about it now, but it soon disappeared.

I was happy to be transferred to the defense. I started defending in my sophomore year, starting in both directions as juniors and seniors (in attack), playing student football as a defender for five years and coaching defensive football for 24 years, most of them in DB positions.

Literally, this decision of my coaches, when I was 15, dictated the trajectory of my life, both personal and professional, for the next 35 years.

If my dad had done what I saw some parents do during my coaching time, he would have ruined it for me. I would never be the person I am now if my dad walked into the coaches ’office, or started an anonymous email, or started waking up in the community about how stupid our coaches are because of their decisions.

If Dad had gotten involved, I wouldn’t have started the second year. I would be a spoiled, empowered child who wanted his dad to fight in his battles. Not so we grow as humans.

Again, I don’t know how I overcame myself and grew up in my second football season. I can’t exactly remember it or trace the development as a novel, but I know it happened. Suddenly I stopped caring about “being a defender” and started caring about being the best footballer – and the best teammate – I could be.

My coaching career started that second season, even though I didn’t know it.

Do you know who knew that? My dad. He knew what I needed. I’ve talked to him about it ever since and he admits how hard it has been. Of course, he and my mother wanted me to succeed. Of course, they thought about getting involved.

But he also knew the intervention would open the door for the rest of my high school career. If he did it now, he would do it again. So he told me the truth – he wasn’t a football coach, and I wasn’t a very good defender in throws.

Sometimes the truth hurts. Parents need to believe that coaches have better intentions for their teams, even if that’s not exactly what parents want. Coaches make decisions First, the program, and then the players. This is the path to long-term success.

Not everyone can play defender. Not everyone can become a star player, headed for a first division scholarship. Not everyone gets their name in the newspaper and appears in the local news. In fact, far more members of the football team will block and fight than kill landings and gain fame. But landings cannot be killed without blocking and selection, and each piece of the puzzle is just as important as any other.

However, everyone can learn to fail and overcome, how to strive and work, how to win and lose. Sports lessons are bigger than those who can play playmakers.

When coaches make difficult decisions, it is not bullying, intimidation or harassment. It’s the coaches doing what’s best for the team. If parents can accept this, their high school athletes will be able to get all the benefits that high school athletics brings.

And perhaps tune your high school student into personal and professional life.


One day after training between junior and senior high school I went into the locker room and saw that my dad was meeting all the coaches through the window in the coach’s office. I was shocked. I’ve never seen parents communicate with coaches, and couldn’t understand what was going on. When I got home that night, I asked Dad about it, and he told me not to worry about it; it didn’t concern me.

I learned back after high school that my dad had asked and agreed to buy a teammate’s shoes for next season and pay for his trip to a football camp because the player’s family couldn’t afford it. I learned this from my high school coach long after graduation, not from my father. My dad never told me this story until I asked him about it.

My dad refused to contact my coaches for me WRONG reasons but contacted another player RIGHTS reasons.

This is the sports father we should all be – the one who does what is necessary for the good of the program.

Thanks for reading. In the last article, we are going to explore how to help our children get the most out of athletics in high school.

At first glance, Coach White’s series:



  • Parental lens of success


Nathan White

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