When I was a child, my dad was always my Coach. I started T ball when I was 3 or 4 and he coached every year. I started softball in 4th grade which he coached all the way through high school. It was irritatingly great to have him as my coach. He definitely did not favor me in anyway. He was very good at being my coach and it is a memory of him that I don't share with my sister's, it is my memory of my time with our dad.
Parker is now playing sports. He did soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and t ball this summer. During soccer season I felt the inner need/want to be his coach. To be out on the field trying to herd the 3-5 year olds towards the proper goal. It worsened during basketball. These are two sports that I know nothing about, so the idea of stepping up to coach a sport that I have no knowledge about held me back (even though, truth be told, it is more teaching easy basics more than actually coaching). But T ball....I know t ball! This was the sport that Parker had been waiting for too. At the first practice it was obvious that there was no assistant coach, so naturally I helped with practice. It kind of fell in my lap to be the Assistant Coach but I love it. I have coached 3 of the 7 games solo and ran two practices alone as well. Again, I love it. But I am the only female coach in T ball. There were some during soccer season, I think maybe 2 and none during basketball season. In fact, now that I think about it, there are very few girl participants in T ball either. I have noticed the children respond differently to me than my male counterparts. They listen to me because I participate with them, but they listen even better when my male counterpart is not present. There is an image we all get when we think of the word "coach." The same happens when we think of "doctor," "teacher," "professor," "manager," "banker," "nurse," "teller..." I could go on. But reading those words makes you think of a man or a woman. Even in children as young as Parker, there is am image that goes along with the title. Maybe from watching sports with parents or from their prior (although limited) experience with sports. I cannot be mad about their tendency to understand my counterpart as "more" of a coach than I am, but I can hope that I have changed this image for them. There are two little girls on our team this season, they are sisters. Neither of them have played before and the older one has shown amazing improvement over the past 7 weeks. I know that I am her first coach and I know my presence in her first experience is very positive for her future as a young girl in sports.
Challenging the persecption of who is a coach and can be a coach is what I want to teach all of these children. It is like the inner need to be involved in Parker's sports, it comes from my core. It is nice to shake up the parent's perception as well. I didn't volunteer because I was actively thinking about creating a new image for these children but because I helpful by nature and wanted to be more involved for Parker. I know that my co-coach has appriciated my help and I have loved doing it but nothing beats trying to create social change while fully participating in Parker's life!