Coaching My daughter (part 1 of many)

My daughter and I have always had a really great relationship. We have our ups and downs just like everyone else, but I can call her my bestfriend. For those who really don’t know me very well, Vanessa split time between her mom and I. I had no idea that signing Vanessa up for a sport she didn’t want to play would be part of the glue to our bond.
I always assumed that coaching my daughter would be the easiest thing in the world!. I thought we would spend a lot of time together and it would be all positive all the time. Well that’s a damn LIE! yes I love every second of it, but there were times where I didn’t think Vanessa would ever talk to me again. There were times where I thought she would quit because of me. The joy of playing the game and the joy of competing starting to fade because of me. Trust me there have been a lot of positives in coaching Vanessa, but there have been a solid amount of negatives.
The backyard has always been our own practice field, we would work on something everyday. The backyard is where I am allowed to push my daughter as hard as I possibly can for her to get better. If it wasn’t perfect then I was pushing! RUN FASTER! THROW HARDER! SPRINT! and repeat. Hit until your perfect! throw until you never miss! sprint until you throw up! and repeat! Oh and god forbid she shed a tear, I would get in her face and say “why are you crying!!” “do you think anyone cares if you’re crying? well then don’t” “if you cry on the field, then just get off my field”. I pushed her so hard every single day! she would cry every single day!. See for me I can easily turn off “coach” and be daddy as soon as we are done and walk into the house. I never really considered if Vanessa could do the same thing, I just assumed she could too. I didn’t realize that I was breaking my daughters heart everyday. The little girl who looks at me as her everything, and all she wanted to do was make me proud. So when I pushed she worked harder, she fought through the pain, the tears and the exhaustion just to make me happy. It was no longer about loving the sport it was about making me happy. I wish I could of saw that sooner. Yes Vanessa is a baller, but I always think to myself have I damaged our relationship? you know “I’m sorry I pushed so hard” goes a long way the first time, but not every time. One day she came inside and went straight to the bathroom and I’m in the kitchen getting a drink, and all I hear is Vanessa crying. That made me feel like shit, did I change? No but I can still hear it. When I stop to think I can still hear her crying in the bathroom because she didn’t want to let me down. Coaching Vanessa at home in the backyard away from the practice field and the game was a mistake. The backyard is suppose to be fun, quality time with each other just having fun. Yes getting better but enjoying it. I would do that differently, would she be as good? would she be better? would she still have the “killer instinct”? I guess ill never know how things would be if I did them differently but I always as think, what if.
Coaching her Travel team is another story, doesn’t matter what level you play at. Coaching Vanessa’s team is tough, because it took me years to figure out how to balance them. When I say years I mean it took me up until this past fall season for Vanessa and I to work smoothly. Coaching all these players on the team and trying not to single out my own kid was tough. Players would make errors I would come up and correct them and help them out, but when Vanessa made a mistake the world came tumbling down. I was so hard on her in front of everyone and I’m sure I embarrassed her more than a handful of times. Playing time was another issue, because if you coach your own kid you will ALWAYS be accused of playing “daddy ball”. Really doesn’t matter if you kid can flat out ball, there is someone that feels that daddy ball is taking place. So there are times where I benched my own kid because I knew I would take some crap if I didn’t. The problem is I shouldn’t have benched her, she has always been top 9 players on the team so in my book that means your on the field when the game counts. I had parents complain about their kids not playing, and after adding up all the field time for the players Vanessa was on the bench more than any player I had on the team. Not because she wasn’t good enough but because I had to make sure I was “fair”. I eventually told myself, I know how hard my kid works on and off the field so show me you work as hard or harder and you can be on the field with her or take her spot. But until then, leave me I also had to teach Vanessa every position because where the team lacked, I needed her there to fill that hole. Even now I am still coaching her and my other coach Todd Bell is the one who deals with her directly so we don’t but heads at all. This season has been so much fun because of it. When coaching your kids travel team make sure you have a good coach to coach with you to be the voice for your kid. Trust me this works! I will walk up to coach Todd and say please tell Vanessa so it doesn’t come from me.
and The positives for coaching the team are never-ending memories. The road trips where we can sing stupid songs and have fun and eat all the crappy food as we travel. The conversations between Vanessa and I about anything and everything! This made our bond so much stronger! Vanessa is my EVERYTHING! not because of softball but softball has been a great teacher for the both of us. The proud feeling you get when you see your kid succeed is such a great feeling. The car rides home when she’s so tired and I still get to carry her in the house, the drives to the hitting lesson. Helping each other get better on the field and off the field. I am a great coach (at least I think I am lol) because of Vanessa and I hope she can look back and say she is a great player because of me.
This one can go on and on because I have so much to say about this topic, but if you’re a coach and you’re reading this, or if your a parent who expects “PERFECTION” every time. I am here to tell you to RELAX! Enjoy the time you have, take pictures enjoy the smiles and laughs. Be there to wipe the tears when they fail but pick them up don’t beat them up. These young ladies want to make you proud, So remind them how proud you are! because if they don’t hear it they will start to have doubts. These young ladies are ballers! they are fierce but they are also fragile. Yes they need to work hard if they are reaching for the pinnacle of the sport but it doesn’t have to feel like a job. Oh yea and when they are in the game, let them play! all the hard work from practice is over now trust that they will put it all into action and succeed. Remind them that you love to watch them play, that goes a long way!
I love coaching Vanessa, I don’t care what I do in life from here on out. Because I know I’m a great daddy and from what my daughter says “the best coach ever”. My eyes swell when I think I have a full year and half of coaching her and she is off to college ball. But I will enjoy every second!

thanks for reading,
Coach Berto

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