The Most Rewarding Career

By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck

“Where does the time go?” This was one of my mother’s favorite sayings when I was a child. Now I know what she means. I remember when I was in the grocery and a good friend, Katie, walked up in line behind me. Her son, Gus, was a 12 year-old on the first Majors team I coached. She said, “Can you believe that boy you taught to play baseball just graduated from college?” No, Katie, I couldn't then and still can't.

All four of mine are out of the house now, all having played sports in high school and college, three in the pros. It’s amazing how fast it has all gone. When they were all much younger, a man who was my mentor in business and like a second father to me, Tony Arminio, and I were talking about our families. He was in the twilight of his career, having already put six kids through college. I was just starting out. He told me something I’ll never forget: “You’re just renting them for eighteen years.”

I didn’t want to waste a moment of that rent. I’ve coached each of them in various sports, sometimes as many as four teams at a time. Many weeks, I put in as many hours on the field as I did in my job. During any “down time” when I wasn’t with one of the teams, then I was at the school with my kids pitching batting practice, running passing routes, playing basketball or kicking the soccer ball.

Would I have more money if I hadn’t coached over a thousand games of baseball, basketball, soccer, football and roller hockey? Sure. Would the retirement fund be a little healthier if I’d worked more hours, if we hadn’t paid for travel baseball and soccer, expensive bats and mitts, gas and hotels to out of town tournaments all those years? No doubt. Would I trade that money now for the memories and bonding all that time with my kids produced? Not a chance.

If a young parent were to ask my advice it would be this: Just as it takes drive and determination to succeed in a career, those same qualities are necessary to succeed as parents. And while the definition of successful parenting will vary widely, I believe one foolproof way to define success is in the amount of time spent together. It doesn’t even have to be coaching or sports for that matter. Time in the car, or playing a game or watching a movie, anything that means they’ve got your undivided attention – that’s what studies say they want more than money and things. There were plenty of times I didn’t feel like going down to the park and pitching batting practice or kicking the ball around. There were days I’d rather have been doing something for myself – resting, for instance. But little is more rewarding than knowing you gave 100% effort as a parent at the end of the day.

Of course we all need to work to make a living, and there are economic realities we must face. Some have more freedom and time to devote to their children than others. But even if you only have a few spare minutes a day, use them wisely. Because when those minutes are gone, they’re gone forever. There will be plenty of time to rest soon enough.

Brian Gotta is a former professional recreational youth baseball coach and volunteer Little League coach and board member. He is President of Help Kids Play, a collection of companies whose mission is to further the development and enjoyment of youth sports.

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