More today than ever before, families with children in youth sports are faced with a constant dilemma. If I want my children to have the best opportunities, what is expected of my child?
Families often enter the youth sports world with the best of intentions, but unfortunately can be swayed by a value system that is created by other parents or coaches, and can appear too entrenched or established as tradition to go against the current.
Our hope is to shed some light on some common myths, offer a few insights, and provide a game plan for parents of youth athletes to feel confident in going forward.
This is simply our story and viewpoint. We do not look to pass judgement against specific sports, organizations, or coaches. We are not perfect, but this is the direction that we are striving for because we not only believe in these principles, but have seen many versions of success as a result.
A few months back this group met to discuss where our common beliefs existed, what we believed were the most pressing concerns for families today, and how to best support our community going forward. We hope this event is step #1.
Our panel included:
Chad Montez - Head Baseball Coach
Dave Zindler - Head Girls' Soccer Coach
Steve Rux - Head Football Coach
Mark Busalacchi - Head Girls' Basketball Coach
Don LaValle - Head Boys' Basketball Coach
Mike Radojicic - Jr. Wolverines Football Director
Kurt Simons - Waukesha Blazers President
John Farrow - Jr. Wolverines Girls' Basketball Co-Director
Kyle LeMieux - Waukesha West Athletic Director
When does winning matter?
We love winning just as much as anyone else, however we firmly believe that consistent winning and success is the result of programs founded upon core values of integrity, work ethic, student-athlete leadership, and continually prioritizing others before yourself. Exceptional athletes may lead to a winning season here or there, but a culture of excellence that sustains is about much more than the sport itself. At Waukesha West, we look to "Transform Aspiring Adults Through Athletics" in all that we do. You do not need to look too far to see West programs holding true to these principles, and as a result earning trophies and banners in the process.
The scholarship process is confusing at best. At the high school level, we often find families frustrated if their only goal in athletic participation is to earn a scholarship. We are fortunate at West HS to have seen so many athletes continue their athletic careers at the next level, but a multitude of factors aligned in each of those situations. We encourage families to connect with our high school coaches and receive sport-specific information in order to take an informed and realistic approach to this topic.
Youth Team Status
At the high school level, we often hear from parents and athletes wondering:
Why are youth teams structured in the way they currently are?
In a perfect world, how would we arrange team selection at the youth level?
Does being on the A team really matter?
Is playing “club” a significant advantage?
Our take is simple: kids should have fun and fall in love with sports. The moment it becomes a job or burden, the line has been crossed. Because of the variance in how youth athletes develop, the label or league that an athlete or team is placed with is not an important factor alone. High school coaches DO NOT CARE which youth team an athlete played for. More so, parents should seek a youth coach that instills values, work ethic, and a hunger for improvement. These are the athletes that set themselves apart at the next level. In a perfect world, we would evenly divide all talent among youth teams to create more opportunities for skill development, exposure to top level coaching, and to fend off some of the social stigma that can come about as a result of leveling teams too early.
We Believe In Multi-Sport Athletes
To avoid burn-out, prevent overuse injuries, and to optimally cross-train as an all-around athlete, we are strong proponents of students participating in multiple sports. While a student may excel in one sport, but possess average talent in others, the power of competing year round cannot be overlooked. College coaches also argue that students filling different roles within multiple teams allows for better leadership development because understand empathy and how to be a great teammate. For those who are motivated by the chance of competing at the collegiate level, data shows that college coaches are simply more interested in multi-sport athletes. Above all, students are only afforded so many seasons during the high school years, and we don't want anyone to regret missed opportunities to wear WEST across their chest!