Thoughts on a coach

Milwaukee Winter Club Wildcat

For those of us whose kids play youth hockey, we’re used to the response when we talk about how much time we spend at ice rinks.  Basically, non-hockey parents think we’re crazy.  

But, at least for our family, the commitment to a youth sport comes with the promise of  coaches like Bob C.  

Parenting is a demanding job and you’re more likely to do it well if you don’t go it alone.  Youth sports has been one of the ways we connect to great adults who can help us raise our kids.

Milwaukee Winter Club, where our two hockey players compete, is full of  dads (and some moms) who have lots of experience playing hockey.  Bob was not one of those dads.  

But what made Bob a good coach–what makes any coach who signs on to coach children “good”–is the joy they take in teaching children the life lessons that competitive sports can teach.  Sportsmanship, teamwork, hard work, disappointment.  The nearly seven months that most families commit to youth hockey means that the “fun” is no sugary sweet cotton candy version.  When you win, you know you earned it.  And when you lose,  you know you gave it your best.  

And with coaches like Bob, kids learn that they are valued for who they are and what they bring to the team.   The joy Bob took in coaching his son and his son’s team mates was evident in his relationships with the kids.  He was no polly-anna where people were concerned.  While I never heard him say a negative thing about a child, he was always honest–and, it seemed, delighted by each kid’s quirks.  

That perspective served him well in coaching my “charming” daughter in the net.  I emailed him about a month before he died to say that he was one of the few coaches who could keep up with her “sense of humor.”  He responded:

Tell L. I’m very proud of her. Tell her to always keep her beautiful smile. And tell her (if you feel it is appropriate) I always tell [my kids] when they can’t get the answer they need from family or friends — get it from their gut. I consider the gut the combination of heart, mind and soul and that combo will keep us sane and happy with our choices in life.

If you allow YouTube — Dream Big – Ryan Shupe & the Rubberband — is a pretty fun song. Keep smiling.

We’ve been fortunate–a lot of our kids’ coaches have been like Bob.  That doesn’t mean we won’t miss him.



4 responses to “Thoughts on a coach

  1. Thank you Cindy! Bob was a great coach – not just of the game, but of life. He was demanding but not tyrannical and although he didn’t sugar coat things and spoke the truth, he never spoke a truth that was hurtful to a child (or a parent!). As you said, he was one of those guys who saw the potential in every kid – even the quiet shy ones… And he was definitely one of those guys who saw the cup as “half full” – always encouraging even when the game looked lost for sure … He was such a “good guy”…. he will be missed…

  2. Wow, I just watched the “Dream Big” video… it truly embodies Bob’s philosophy on life. What a wonderful gift and that even as his life was coming to an end, he could still inspire others to be hopeful. Bob dreamed big…what a great legacy…

  3. Thank you for this post Cindy. I have many fond memories of Bob, and a lot of them revolving around the world of hockey and teaching my children. I have lots of thoughts in my mind about how he made me laugh when we coached together. Bob took his job very seriously, and was eager to learn everything. I remember trying to prepare him for his first game against Waukesha and tried to tell him it was not going to be pretty. What an understatement, but we had fun, and learned a lot about a big loss. I was particulary proud of Bob in building his first backyard hockey rink a few years back. Bob gave me lots of reasons to want to go to the hockey rink and coach and have fun with the kids. As a coach, one of the very first questions you ask yourself is “Why do you want to do this?” It was evident that Bob had a lot of love and time for Liam, and of course Zoe off the ice. Bob was a great father to his children, and a great coach to our Emily, and a great investment advisor to our young Aaron. He new more about his portfolio than anyone else. Aaron loved to talk investments with Bob. I found that so cool and amusing. He will be missed. My next lap will be for Bob.

  4. I did not know Bob, but he sure seems like he was an extraordinary man. How fortunate for you children to have had him in their lives!

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