The Coach’s Daughter

Maybe we have been doing this too long. But so very often (unfortunately) when watching a fast-pitch softball game, we can decidedly tell who the coaches daughter is without the words “Mom, or Dad” ever being utilized. In fact, after 15 years on the field, we would be willing to bet money on our guesses and could probably earn enough to buy ourselves that boat we would NEVER have time to use.

Last week during an 8 year old All-Star game, a coach who was obviously a little disgruntled by the fact that she was losing, screamed across the ballpark at a cute, bubbly little girl who had just left the bathroom, trying desperately to tuck all 6 inches of her too long jersey into her britches. “Don’t you ever leave the dugout again during a game, you got it? DO YOU GOT IT?”If you do you will sit the bench.”

It was a reaction from a parent who may have thought they had lost their daughter in Disney World. The reality was, it was a parent coach who was taking the liberty of taking out her frustration on her own young daughter who stood at first base the entire second inning barely able to hold in her pee.

Poor kid had just had to pee. She was smart enough to use a quick break between innings to do so, and yet was treated with hostility by a coach who turned out to be her mother. Had this coach talked to my child, or your child in that tone and with as much velocity – she would have been met with

This scenario plays out all too often in fast-pitch softball.

The third baseman who misses one ball, seems to get embarrassed across the entire infield, while some of the other players on the team who make multiple mistakes, get a “Come on girl, you can do this?” The pitcher on the mound struggling, is crying because her parent coach seems to be speaking the unspeakable with every pitch, folded arms, shaking head, and general frustration painted across his or her entire body language. Why? Because it is is the coaches daughter. Bring in the relief pitcher, and the words get softer and more encouraging.

We have known many girls coached by their parents, who ended up HATING the game…and who have seemed to plant longer roots, and improve more – when they have moved on to have a non-blood related coach leading them.

As much as we hear about the fortunes, and opportunities, and special treatment, and privilege that the coaches children seem to be afforded, the more we realize that this most often (not always) farthest from the truth!

These players come to the field with the game. They drive home with the game. They hear the conversations that other players don’t hear. They take the brunt of the bad, the frustration. They don’t catch a break. The score-book sits on their living room table.The frustrations that are often shouldered by team leaders and coach that other players and parents are blissfully unaware of, follow these girls home. Coaches kids don’t get a sick pass to miss practice, aren’t able to sound off their own frustrations with team dynamics, and often spent a lot of time quite simply trying to please and make their parents proud.

Parents who coach see their children as an extension of themselves and way too often equate their child’s ability (or lack thereof) with their ability to coach. And whether they want to admit it or no, their child’s error (whether one or 65 million) becomes a source of embarrassment for the coach, because the LAST thing they want to hear is that they are playing favorites, or ‘daddy ball.”

Its often the other parents and coaches who are telling these girls to ‘shake it off” to “let it go” and to “not worry.” It’s the other parents on the team who sort of pull the coaches daughter up, who recognize and feel uncomfortable when she is treated with hostility. This makes no mention of the fact that many of these coaches kicking dirt and taking out their frustrations on their own daughters come off looking like total compete jackwagons who may need a course in anger management. Come on folks…this is your daughter, and its SOFTBALL.

Two weeks ago, SIFG set up at a ballpark for a 10U tournament. Relaxing under the shade tent, it became excruciatingly painful to watch one dad coach his daughter. Whatever frustration he felt on the field during the game (little of which was actually her fault) was so angrily and hatefully directed at his own flesh and blood, that we gandered she would likely quit before she even reached her first year of 12U.

If you coach your kid….a good rule of thumb before you go at her mouth a blazing with ridicule and stress, ask your self this. “Would you talk to the other girls on the team in the same way?” And if you did, how many parents would stand for it? 

The coach’s daughter so often has it harder than everyone else. It is a myth that they are treated with favoritism, don’t have to work as hard, or get off easy. They don’t. They often hear a lot of negative things said about their parents as coaches (whom they love) and sometimes even get caught in the middle of friendships breaking up because of parent drama.

So maybe instead of instantly judging, or thinking that this girl has it made, or whispering under your breath that she is only playing such and such because her daughter is the coach, consider that things aren’t always as easy for her as you might think.

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