For most youth sports participants, whether it’s the player, coach, or parent, the holiday vacation provides a nice extended break from the daily rigors of practices, games and other team-oriented activities. In fact, other than the summer hiatus – if you take one – it’s the longest break of the year.
If you feel like I do, similar to when the final tree ornament is packed away, the last Christmas cookie devoured, the hundreds of pine needles vacuumed off the floor and those outdoor lights put in storage until next year, the end of the busy holiday season brings with it a refreshing feeling of a return to normalcy.
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For players, it means putting aside the newest toy or video game until after homework is completed and practice is over. It’s back to getting to bed on time, waking up to the blaring alarm, and not arguing with your parents for making you do so.
For coaches, many whom are parents, it means figuring out how to keep a winning streak going or stop a string of losses. It’s dealing with that complaining parent who Santa seemed to magically – even if temporarily – make go away. It’s making sure that the child who didn’t play much, or at all, during the team’s last game gets significant, or at least more, playing time in the next one.
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For parents, it means being back to figuring out how to get one player to practice, another fed and to a game, and often a third somewhere else ... and remembering where and when to pick each up. It’s easier if a spouse coaches at least one team, and my hat off to any single parent able to do any of it alone. It’s taking that concession stand duty you signed up for “last year” that you thought would never arrive, and then realizing none of your kids have to be at the field that day.
For all of us, it’s being reunited with friends, having a purpose to get off the couch, and a reason to be thankful for healthy kids playing and having fun.
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Most people’s favorite holiday of the year might be over, but for those of us involved in youth sports in any way, as the twinkling outdoor lights finally go out all over the neighborhood, the lights in the gyms and on the fields turn back on.
It’s a magical time of year ... enjoy it.