Volunteer coaches don't expect to be paid or become famous. There are many different factors that might motivate someone to coach a team, knowing there are few tangible rewards. Though fame and fortune are not the goals, it is simply human nature to wish for something else. Appreciation. And since not everyone will express their gratitude, let me do it for them.
From the child who was terrified to get out of his parents' car and come to the field, who said he didn't want to play because he knew he would hate it, thank you for making my first experience fun and for letting me see that being part of a team is one of the greatest things in life.
From the parent who is out of town for work most of the week who wishes more than anything he could be where you are, coaching his child, thank you for treating my child like she was your own and giving her the same opportunities as all the children whose parents are involved.
From the league administrators who are also volunteers and are extremely busy trying to hold down jobs while running the league and who may not have time to meet every coach in person, thank you for being dependable, for attending every game and practice and for doing so in a manner that is free of parental complaints and drama.
A thank-you from the youngster who doesn't have a traditional home life for being like a surrogate parent to me, even if it is only a couple hours a week.
From the recent college grad who is entering the workforce for the first time and looks back and now understands how much you taught him about leadership and teamwork. I'm indebted more than you'll ever know.
Thank you for giving me a ride home, Coach. Thank you for getting the field ready before and after every practice and game. Thank you for giving me a chance to pitch or play goalie.
Thank you for being patient when I made that big mistake that probably cost the team the game. You knew that I felt terrible because I let down my teammates and you. You must have known that yelling at me would only make me scared to go out there again and would eventually make we want to quit. Instead you told me to get 'em next time, or something like that...and I will. For you.
Thank you, Coach for having a sense of humor and making us laugh. Thank you for making us all better. And for teaching us how to win and how to lose.
To all the volunteer coaches out there without whom we would not have recreational sports where children can learn valuable life lessons, get exercise and make lasting friendships, you may not hear it every day but it is important for you to know how appreciated you are.
Thank you, Coach.
Brian Gotta is a former youth baseball coach and volunteer Little League board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels and a baseball coaching book which can be found at www.booksbygotta.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org