Much like many of my colleagues, I spent the first weekend of April this year in Indiana, watching some great basketball and attending the WBCA Conference held in Indianapolis. I can there to learn from the best, gain some knowledge and fill up on inspiration. What and who I came across surprised me.
I am a new dad. My twin girls are 14, going on 15 months old, and are a handful. I was doubly blessed and triple blessed if you consider my amazing wife, sacrificing so much to stay at home with them day in and day out. It’s hard enough being a coach’s wife. It’s much harder when you have to take care of twins. As a guy, I am as guilty as the next one at hiding my true feelings and struggles being a father and coaching full time. Every day is a decision of where to allocate my time, and more often than not, family time has been sacrifices in the elimination process. I am sure many coaches could attest to the same.
On my second day at the convention, I sat in on a panel of coaches, Led by coach Hernando Planells entitled #AlwaysDad, discussing the struggles of being a father and a coach. There was a large group in attendance, and the discussion evolved from a listening audience, to a participating, sharing and emotional audience. Suddenly I felt I wasn’t alone. I know other coaches must be dealing with similar issues, but I had no idea the depth of conversation and plethora of ideas suggested in support of one another, as we attempt to be the best dad that we can all be as a community. Always dad has opened a door for us and gave us a platform to connect and lean on one another during the ups and downs of our priority-struggle between professional and family duties.
The coaches in that room were all successful coaches of various levels who chose to put ego aside and talk about something real in the platform provided by coach Planells, a father of two himself, who has noticed that there was no platform for us coaching dads to share and be there for one another, and so he created one for us. Real stories were shared. Stories ranging from coaches reconnecting with their children after years of wrong prioritization, to paraphrase their own words, or coaches who were deeply distraught by the distance between their families and their current working situation, Always Dad turned into a place for us dads to talk about how we can be better dads. After all, what is more important than family?
This profession is one of the most difficult ones out there. Not only is it 24/7 (If you want to move up and stay on top), but it also is the kind of profession that comes home with you. It is so result-driven that as coaches we need to constantly produce and be successful. How does that leave enough time for the same amount of devotion for our children and family?
While there is no quick-fix answer, there are so many things we can do as coaches that will allow up to spend more time with our kids and be better dads. I view this as a practice plan. We rarely ever only work on one skill during practice, and so combining skills (aspects of life) could be beneficial. If you can, bring your kids to practice / game and include them in some kind of team activity. Create a plan to connect and stick to it. Make time during the day they can look forward to and spend it with them. No phones, no distractions. Stick to it. Share with them and include them in what you are doing. You can even take them recruiting with you, on occasion and spend some quality time there. Be creative, with the notion that they are the most important people in your life and spending time with them is a bigger priority than anything else. When you are with them - be present. Don’t be on your phone or social media, spend the time to build a great relationship with them, so that when you are away, your bond will be stronger and more durable.
I have been guilty of neglect myself. Every day I make the choice to be more present and spend all the time I have with them until they go to bed. Always Dad helped me and a plethora of other coaches discuss the issues in a comfortable and understanding environment. Coach Planells’ relationship with his own children is a great example of practicing what you preach. I hope to have the same bond with my girls one day.
Going to Indy I expected to come back with more knowledge and be more inspired to do what I do on a daily basis. What I didn’t expect, however, was to come back having gained a real friend in coach Planells, and with two words constantly on my mind. Life changing.
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