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Parent Program Pays Off

October 11, 2016
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by Maegan Mathiasmeier, NAIA National Office intern

Parents' actions greatly influence the character development and success of children when they play sports. Often it's difficult for parents to see how their behavior directly impacts their child's athletics experience.

"Parents care so much about their children, it's extremely difficult to watch them fall down and scuff their knee," says Champions of Character presenter Richard Bechard of Overland Park, KS. "There's always going to be rough and frustrating times in athletics. It's human nature to want to fix everything for them."

Berchard speaks from experience. In addition to being a coach and athletics director in two school districts for more than 20 years, he's the parent of a student-athlete. He thinks parent's actions and reactions are out of love for their child.

When parents step back and allow their student athletes to go through rough times, often they end up thriving. Champions of Character helps parents become better parents and role models for their children. Champions of Character parent programs teach the importance of accepting a player's expectations, releasing them to the game, modeling poise and confidence during the contest and understanding time and space boundaries afterward.

Blue Valley Recreation Commission, Overland Park, KS, has worked proactively to help parents better support their student-athletes. Blue Valley Recreation provides youth sports leagues, clinics and events in volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball during the fall, spring, and summer seasons for ages pre-k through high school. Blue Valley Recreation offers mandatory Champions of Character parent seminars twice a year, during basketball and baseball/softball season.

Champions of Character helped Blue Valley Recreation parents realize that they have one role during the games, which is to be a fan and to not officiate or coach. Also, when parents and coaches are positive, everyone enjoys the game more.

"We had our turn now it's theirs. Let them have experience good or bad," said Josh Hefley, Program Coordinator at Blue Valley Recreation. Hefley believes parents' technical fouls and ejections have decreased since the implementation of the program.

What are some the key messages of the parent programming? Before the season, know your child's reasons for playing then release them to the game and the coach. During competition, model poise and confidence and focus on the team.  Use one instructional voice and pick one role, either as a parent, coach or official. After the game, understand your student athlete needs time and space. Be a confidence builder rather than a confidence cutter.

Learn how to support your student athlete before, during and after the game so they can be the best they can be. Explore the "Role of Parents in Athletics" at