Talking to families about fundraising and youth sports

We sometimes forget that families are an important piece of the puzzle in kids sports. Today we are going to switch gears a little. I’ve decided to write a couple of articles about one particular family and their experiences. This will be a series over the coming weeks.

For this, we’ll focus on a real family who has participated in a lot of fundraising for their children’s sports teams. I had the chance to sit down this week with Susan. She’s the mother of three busy kids as well as an active volunteer within the soccer community. She’s involved at the club level doing equipment management and helping with evaluations. Susan also supports her children’s teams with fundraising initiatives, and is  no doubt a true soccer mom.

How I got introduced to Susan

I first met Susan years ago when our daughter’s were quite young. They were in Goalie Training sessions together for a couple seasons. Like many soccer families we’ve chatted a little over the years, even though the girls no longer train together. Susan’s daughter is still playing goalie and is on a highly competitive tier 1 team. Her oldest son is also on a tier 1 soccer team although it has a somewhat different focus from her youngest’s. Finally her middle child has other interests and he currently isn’t playing any sports. This means they are a very busy family that is often going in multiple directions. I’m sure many of you can relate.

One of the things that impressed me about Susan is that she sees her kids as capable individuals. Regardless of where their passions lay, she allows them to pursue them. Having the opportunity to try, whether you succeed or fail is important. It creates a confidence and certain level of independence in her children. They are bright and driven kids. That motivation comes from within them and it’s taken them far. While drive can be related to someone’s personality, there are ways to foster it too. I’ve seen kids over the years that made it to a high level in sport because their families pushed them. It’s not something that can successfully be forced upon them forever though. Eventually things fall apart if the parents are the main motivators.

Want to read more about how overcoming some adversity is good for kids?

The day Susan and I met was grey and dreary. We sat inside the coffee shop trying to ignore the serious lack of springtime weather outside. While we nursed our coffees she relayed her experiences seeing kids who were pushed to play by well meaning parents. If the player is only working hard to avoid getting yelled at, they are missing the benefits. It’s through setting goals for yourself that kids learn and grow.

Susan has always struck me as a parent that gives her kids the opportunity to try to do things on their own, and in their own ways. She has allowed each of her children to choose their own path. With that kind of support and confidence in them, they learn to be courageous and have confidence in themselves. Have high expectations but allow them to fail.

As we sat drinking our coffees, Susan explained to me how capable her kids are. This isn’t just bragging about ball skills or them being the fastest runner. She talks about their ability to cope out in the world. It could be as simple as letting kids check themselves in for tryouts at the start of a season. Let them make mistakes. They will grow from it. Holding their hand through everything won’t help them learn to be independent. It’s the ability to handle yourself on a tournament without your parent being present. Encourage them to try something new, maybe a little out of their comfort zone. We even discussed the benefit of letting your kids learn how to approach strangers at the local soccer center or store to sell raffle tickets.

Want to help your child in reaching their goals. Check out our article on SMART goal setting.

When families step back and let children attempt these things, they learn valuable lessons. Susan’s kids have developed a sense of responsibility that comes with these expectations, and commitment to your teammates. It’s not sustainable for a parent who pushes their child through everything. They learn nothing from it. It’s not just practices and games, but technical training, fitness, psychology sessions, and team bonding. Your team becomes your family and you need to really want to be there. We will talk more next time about what it takes to fundraise for a top level team that has additional training and travel costs.

Susan has a wealth of experience when it comes to parenting and fundraising for youth in sports. We will discuss more about the challenges of being at this level and the impact it has on families. Despite two of her kids playing tier 1 soccer, the teams have very different philosophies. She shared with me the differences between them as well as some of their past experiences. Her daughter’s team does a lot of fundraising that pays for a variety of activities and training. Her oldest son’s team does quite a bit less and it’s for a completely different goal. I look forward to sharing this with you next week.