August 2020 Scholastic Coaches Update

By George Way, Scholastic Director

Supporting Our Student/Athletes as they Return to School

Each year it’s with excitement that we return to school as students, teachers, administrators, coaches, and yes, even parents and all the others who fill the roles related to our school systems. The excitement is no different this year, but accompanying that feeling is most likely the following: Greater anxiety, increased stress, fear of the unknown, how long will it last before it changes to something else, what will be different tomorrow than today, will it work, will we have extra-curricular activities and probably the list grows from there. I think we could also say that typically kids are a resilient bunch and not quite as skeptical or concerned as adults might be. Having said this, I believe this new year, more than ever, will present the opportunity for educators and coaches to take on a more significant leadership role than ever before. Kids look to coaches as adults who have the qualities and characteristics that many will aspire to emulate. How we conduct ourselves, what we say, and model and the confidence we present will be extremely important. If we possess high-level leadership/coaching skills, kids will look to us for answers, guidance, direction, and understanding. We need to be there for them. They will read every move of our body language, examine our behaviors, heed our advice, and follow our direction. Please consider how you can continue to make a difference in the lives of your students and athletes during this school year. Their life experiences are so very different from what ours were growing up. We can’t afford to miss the opportunity to nurture and mentor this generation like no other.

So, how do we adapt to a new normal? How can we help support our students/athletes to adapt successfully to a new normal? Can you identify what new normals will have the most impact on your students? Do you have an intentional plan or strategy to address these new normals? We all know that kids are social creatures and typically thrive in interactive settings. How will this period impact these kids in the long term as socialization has been, in some cases, minimized for them? They are typically consumed with who they are dating, what sports teams/extra-curricular activities they will belong to, what events or functions they will attend, etc. It’s our job to provide hope, optimism, and enthusiasm for our kids. You’ve probably read or heard somewhere that without hope, we have nothing. The social-emotional connection with kids is so important to address as they return to school. What can you do to enrich this connection? What can we do to keep our students’ spirit and enthusiasm for life elevated or to get them engaged /re-engaged in school life and culture?

Last, we need to identify what has changed for our students? College plans, school or athletic goals, travel plans, jobs, etc.? How can we help our students to find new advantages from a time in history of disadvantages? What are kids doing with their newfound “spare time?” Are they positive and life building endeavors or something that’s not exactly productive or even considered destructive? We need to monitor them and provide growth opportunities. “We need to be helpful to keep kids hopeful.” Without hope, everything changes for them. So be pro-active, be intentional about what you do, enlist others to support your efforts. Create a new culture for the current times. While I know not much I’ve written here is earth-shattering, a revelation, or cutting edge, I know that your leadership will make a huge and significant difference in your kids’ lives and educational experiences coming out the other side of all this. I also know that wrestling coaches are creative, exhibit initiative, and have the perseverance to see it through to make it work. BE THAT LEADER! Best of luck during this most unusual time. CREATE HOPE!

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