“Thank You” to all my coaches!

Participation Trophy

Growing up in India, I was never exposed to professional coaching for any sport and I did play a few – Cricket, Soccer, Badminton and Table Tennis. Sports was a way to express yourself outside school and make friends. Some of the older kids guided us on how to improve or shared new techniques. There was no YouTube or Coach Google either.

With Yash, every sport he has picked up in the US – Taekwondo, Swimming & Wrestling, has involved a structured setup and paid or voluntary coaching staff. I am certain there are pros and cons to each ecosystem (his and mine). As someone who has had many such opportunities since birth, Yash does not appreciate it enough. And as someone who may have benefitted with some coaching as a kid and got none, I care too much!

At a tournament
Wrestler of the week recognition by Coach

Now don’t get me wrong….Yash is a kind kid and respects his coaches, follows instructions and seldom gets in trouble (at least, that’s what we thinkπŸ˜‰). But I want him to revere his coaches and in my idealistic mind, I also put the coaches on a pedestal and expect them to do everything that will be in Yash’s interest. In both scenarios, many a times, I have walked away unsatisfied.

That being said, this last wrestling season I was super impressed by the professionalism and enthusiasm of the coaches at Fox Valley Wrestling Club (FVWC). There have been many instances during this season, where the coaches understood Yash and were able to connect with him in a way that he would appreciate too. I do, however, want to call out one episode, which meant a lot to us as parents.

FVWC kids participate in meets and based on their performance qualify for regionals, sectionals and state tournaments. I have never played this sport and there is a lot to learn every season (this was our 2nd season). Yash enjoys horsing around in the house with his friends and me. He is also a kid with a LOT of energy. Our objective while registering him for this Wrestling season was for him to have fun, burn some energy and stay fit (in a secure space). At this point, I am unclear how passionate he is about the sport and how far he will go with it. 2019-20 was a tough season and we (both Chitra and I) were happy to see him head to his training without any whining or fuss. As you can see, we have set a low benchmark! 😁 So, to our surprise, we learnt that he had qualified for sectionals. Yash was bummed, because in his mind, he had competed in his last tournament – the regionals! Our initial reaction was volatile, because he did not see value in qualifying for sectionals. It was only later in the day, we started thinking from Yash’s point of view. He had barely made it to the sectionals and did not have the skills or maturity to go through another grueling tournament. We decided to inform the coach about our decision not to put Yash through it. We explained our logic and to our surprise, he (Yash’s coach) responded positively. I was honestly expecting some frustration from him, because one spot would be going vacant from his club. But the fact that he was able to understand and relate to our objectives for Yash made this a positive experience. Next season, hopefully Yash is better skilled and begins to enjoy some more wins.

End of Season Message for Yash

The season ended rather abruptly because of COVID-19 and the club was unable to organize their planned closing events. However, the coaches did surprise Yash with a meaningful participation trophy for the season (cover picture) and a very thoughtful message delivered to our house (seen above). I have to admit, Yash felt very special that day and looks forward to the next season (I think!😊). He penned this short ‘thank you’ poem for all his coaches. Hope you enjoy reading it too.

Getting on the mat,
Stalking like a cat,
Remembering advice,
Sprawling thrice,
Taking a shot,
Getting pushed down a lot,
Feeling your blood get hot.

Winning one match,
Losing two,
Getting faster,
Learning more things to do.
Next match,
You win two rounds,
Getting pinned on your back,
But slowly turning round.

In the final match,
You win all three rounds,
Never showing slack,
To pin someone on their back!

#thankyoucoach #fvwc #poetrysoothes #yashmenon #foxvalleywrestlingclub #dangal

Related data points

  1. Fox Valley Wrestling Club (FVWC): www.foxvalleywrestlingclub.com
  2. ‘Dangal’ the movie that sparked Yash’s wrestling spirit: Available on Netflix