Coaches are Family too!
I sat talking to a friend this weekend whom I know to be a very dedicated coach. He was struggling with the challenge where he's joined his team into a tournament for a weekend he knew there might be conflicts, but you never know how the scheduling will play out. Turns out that a week ahead the direct conflicts were still in question, but he was already in turmoil about the potential conflict.
He had personal engagements in the form of reunions and then on top of that, his son was attending his first homecoming. And no matter now cheesy those moments may be, a parent wants to be there to lay it on thick for their child. And no matter what anyone says, there's only going to be 4 or less of those moments and there's no getting them back.
The commitments we make to these teams, and the children on them are very important to a coach. Their child gets them into it, but the commitment grows from there. So tell me parents... how does the coach play this out? Do they maintain their commitment to the team and miss their reunion AND their child's first homecoming dance (demonstrating and living up to their commitment to team)? Or... do they cover the games they can, and then lean on their assistant and other parents to cover those games they will unfortunately miss (demonstrating their commitment to family).
I've thought about this situation long and hard because my first opinions came from the place of coach. (You've committed to this team... you're the leader... the coach... you can't just abandon a team you've made a commitment to... what kind of example would that provide?) Then life struck mid blog and clarity came to me. You've made a commitment to this team. To lead them. To model leadership for them. To demonstrate commitment to them. And at this time, it is in your power to demonstrate that there is no one person who is indispensable. The concept of team is the concept of support and coverage and "the next person up".
I would counsel that coach to pull their team together once they've got rallied assistant and parent support, to explain their challenge and the difficulty they've had struggling with the decision. Then, to stand behind their decision and ask for the team's support. Give the team the opportunity to step up for you. This is your opportunity to share a life lesson. Don't cheapen it by thinking of it as a "team" lesson. Your role is SO much bigger than that as a coach in youth athletics.