Do we only care about winning?

Published 6:29 pm Saturday, September 29, 2012

Column: Coach’s Corner

Talk to anyone over the age of 40, or maybe even 30. We just don’t understand kids today. In fact, let me provide a quote about kids today.

This was given to me by Dr. Gregory Dale, from Duke University.

Jim Boehmer

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“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt of authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble their food at the table, and tyrannize their teachers.”

Who ever said this hit the nail on the head, when it comes to kids today, right? Oh, you want to know who said this? Socrates did, in 399 B.C. So, maybe kids haven’t changed and adults have.

Maybe it is just all a part of growing up and facing the world. This is where educational athletics comes in.

It might be hard for most people who know me to learn that winning is not the No. 1 purpose of our volleyball program at Lake Mills. It is a byproduct, but it is not our purpose. High school sports are about, or at least should be about, educational athletics.

When we think about the role of pre-K to 12th grade education we think about books, tests, worksheets, projects, class discussions and a number of other “educational” terms.

We should never forget the role of athletics in our education.

I have learned much as a coach over the last 22 years and in nearly 40 seasons spent as a head coach in both softball and volleyball.

I went from thinking that winning and losing was the intent.

“Just win baby!”

But along the way, I realized that teaching these kids how to set goals and high expectations and then work hard to achieve them is what matters. Along the way they learn how to work with others, be self-disciplined, deal with successes and failures, face frustration, solve problems, work with different age groups, understand what it means to play fair, balance your time, be resilient, develop delayed gratification and a host of other skills that time and space here won’t allow me to list.

I no longer like the word extracurricular activities because it implies that sports are just something after academics. I contend that they are as much academic as anything else done inside our school district.

Coaches hold kids accountable for being late, they work with students one-on-one, and in large group settings, and they enforce all the key skills I listed above.

Coaches are teachers, and when you look at what most get paid, they are our best deal if they realize what the true purpose of educational athletics are all about.

Volleyball is important in Lake Mills. You just have to come to a match to quickly see just how important it is. But, we are more concerned with what type of person they will be in the future.

Go Bulldogs!

Jim Boehmer is the head girls’ volleyball coach at Lake Mills High School. The team has not lost a game for more than two years. A column from an area coach will appear in the Tribune each week.