Dads all get into coaching with the best of intentions. They want to help their kids excel. They want to share in their lives. Sometimes it goes great and other times not so much.
If you were to catch one of my little league practices, you might think my 11-year-old son Tommy is the only kid on the field because that’s the only name you’ll probably hear being yelled.
Go to any youth practices or games and the name you hear yelled most often will likely end up being the coach’s kid.
“It can be very hard sometimes,” Tommy Sullivan said. “It’s just really hard when he’s bossing you around every day.”
It’s true. Parent coaches are in a tough spot. They can’t show preferential treatment. They can’t praise their kids too much, but for some reason it seems okay to berate them and make examples of them.
“If I strike out without swinging and the next kid strikes out without swinging, you’re like ‘good try,’ but you’re always mad at me,” Sullivan said. “It’s not fair.”
But I’m not alone. Brian Kraus manages our little league team this year and I hear his son’s name a lot, too.
“Not only does he hear from me in the game, but when I get in the car and I start talking to him, and I can talk to him like a dad, he hears it a little more,” said Kraus.
The coach’s kid never gets a break.
“Your coach, AKA, your dad will have you at higher expectations than other kids, hitting ground balls faster, making everything harder for you so you can get better,” said Brian’s son, Jared Kraus.
710 ESPN’s Brock Huard knows a little something about being the coach’s kid, playing under his dad Mike at Puyallup High.
“You have got to do more,” said Huard. “It’s got to be without question. There can’t be any sense of favorability whatsoever and you’re going to be asked to do more because of it.”
And for all of you dads who are coaching now or plan to, Huard said you have to learn how to leave the coaching on the field.
“Being able to take that off and put that whistle down and get in the El Camino and slap your son’s leg and say ‘let’s go get some donuts’ is critically important.”
Coach Kraus is just wrapping up his final days in little league. His advice to you dads is savor these moments.
“Enjoy the ride because before you know it, it’s going to be over with and then what do you do,” he said.
Most of us will probably grow old remembering these moments fondly and hoping one day for a “Field of Dreams” moment.