Featured Hockey Games

A Letter From the Coach’s Wife

Written by Emily Erson

Hello That Parent in the Stands,

You know who you are. You are the one who knows everything, yet contributes nothing.  You are the one waiting with baited breath to find flaws in everything—the team, the coach, and other people’s children.  I am ashamed that you wear the same logo as my son because your actions are not in line with what I want sports to teach him.

You probably don’t realize this, but I stand off to the side for a reason. With the season well underway, the coach, my husband, is forced to make decisions to benefit the team.  It upsets you when your kid is not at the center of those tough decisions.  My question to you is, “Are you here to be a member of a team, or are you more concerned with personal accomplishments?”  I am curious because we are here to play a team sport.  If personal accolades are your goal, may I suggest golf or tennis?

My husband, the coach, the guy who is supposed to make decisions about this group, is looking to create the strongest combinations of kids.  His goal is not to showcase your son and his talent.  Don’t get me wrong, your child is an asset, but so is every child—in some way.

At night, after he takes 15 minutes to read his own children a story, he’s racking his brain for drills to help the weakest link on this team develop the confidence he needs to contribute.  If I had to guess, that’s the same kid you are saying is terrible on your car rides home from games.

Yes, “that kid” hears what you say about him from the stands.  And every negative remark you make, my husband has to counter so that he can rebuild that child’s confidence to continue with the game.  May I remind you that these are kids.  They may be teens, but the teenage years are awkward.  That will carry over into their performance.  And it’s normal.

My husband is also trying to find ways to connect with your son because your chronic complaining has driven a wedge in their relationship.  Now the respect necessary for him to help your child doesn’t exist.  So, despite how skilled he is, he’s not an asset any longer because you have planted the same seed of negativity that is consuming you in his head as well.

Negativity spreads like a cancer on any team.  So, not only is my husband trying to help the kids overcome their physical and mental weaknesses in practices and games, he’s now charged with battling the pessimism you’ve planted on his bench.

You see, when you get in your car after the games and start giving your armchair analysis of what happened, you make it even harder for my husband to get your kid to listen.  What you don’t understand is that the game looks a lot different in a coach’s eye because his attention is directed at how the group is functioning.  Your focus is mostly directed at your son’s performance.

When you bash the coach and the choices he is making in a role you didn’t volunteer to fill, you are making his job harder.  When you make his job harder, it affects the entire team.

Here are a few things you don’t know about my husband.  He took on a job that not too many people want to take.  And notice I said job because it takes a lot of work—work he doesn’t get paid for.  Yet, he’s undervalued and overworked.

No one was willing to step up and volunteer his time to manage this group of 13-year-old boys.  You want to know why—13-year-old boys don’t like to listen.  In fact, they think they know everything.  That’s why the volunteer list is short.  I’d be willing to bet that this is the reason your name was not on it.

I am guessing you don’t know this about my husband, but he has a particular way of approaching every kid on this team.  He has gone to great lengths to break down walls to find ways to motivate and communicate with all of the kids because they all have something to give.

There is one thing that makes my husband stand out as a great coach.  It’s not his ability to help players polish their strengths; it’s the way he teaches kids to embrace their imperfections.  He’s a firm believer that you care about people with their flaws, not in spite of them.  He’s an even stronger believer that your shortcomings are what drive you to become better at any challenge you face in life.

So, when you see that weak link out there in a position that forces him to overcome one of his imperfections, that is my husband showing that child (yes, child—not professional athlete) he has what it takes not only in this game but in life.  My husband is there coaching him and encouraging him to face his shortcomings regardless of what people like you are saying about him in the stands (again because they hear your damaging remarks).  

That’s what good coaches do.  They don’t put the stronger and more skilled kids in places to compensate for their teammate’s weaknesses.  They teach kids how to acknowledge and overcome their limitations.

Can you say the same?  Not from where I am standing.  And I am standing far away because your pessimism is not something I want to catch.

My husband, as well as almost every person who takes on the role of a coach, is a good person with great intentions and undying commitment and loyalty to other people’s children.  It’s sad that you can’t see that.

It’s even sadder that he comes home deflated because nothing he does please you.  Your constant berating has blinded him.  His focus is shifting from the kids to pleasing you.  That is not what is best for all of these kids.  The once positive, motivated man who cared about showing kids they have what it takes is becoming overly concerned with making a selfish man happy.  He can’t see that nothing will make you happy.  You don’t want to be happy, you just want to point out what is wrong with everyone else—even children.  It’s not my husband who is failing as a coach; it is you who is failing as a person.

I’d really like to leave you with one last thought.  I am an adult.  My husband is an adult.  We’ve come across several people like you in our years in youth sports.  We can easily let your harsh words and embarrassing remarks roll off our back.  Your son, not so much.  Your behavior will be something he remembers when he thinks back on his time playing youth sports.

This time is supposed to be one filled with happy memories.  Perhaps you should stop worrying about who is playing where and start worrying about how you can get ahold of your emotions. You don’t want to take what could be amazing experiences and memories away from your son, and right now, he’s embarrassed of you.


The Coach’s Wife


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About the author

Emily Erson

I am a full-time teacher, mother, driver of children, cooker of dinner, washer of laundry, sayer of whatever is on my mind and hockey mom extraordinaire. In my free time --like that exists--I blog in order to vent the frustration that comes with raising 3 kids. My mantra, blogging and ranting are better than a drinking problem.


  • The best way we can help a child excel in sports (and in life) is to build his confidence. Let them know that its okay to fail, and that the important thing is that he/she learns that he/she is part of a team that work collectively and in unison towards a goal. I can’t believe there are parents that show an ugly side to sports.

    • That’s so true. Confidence and problem solving are two real life skills kids get from sports. The good always outweighs the ugly. At least that’s what I think.

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