Changing the World
Recently, while Crystal was in discussion with the Parks and Rec Director, Geoff, he explained the range of coaching aptitude and experience within the various leagues. He stated that there were some coaches who found out just before the first game that they were coaching and on the other end of the spectrum they had us. So what is it that separates UnFettered Athletics from other youth coaches? What do we do differently that puts us at the high end of the spectrum? What makes us the Undisputed Champions of youth recreational sports?
First of all, it is not just the Fetters. There are 100 plus families every year that not only have their children playing with us, but they completely buy in to who we are and what we do. The mission of UnFettered Athletics is the mission of every family that participates with us. We are changing the game and changing the world.
When I began coaching my goal was to build a competitive/select team and win games. However, through the years we’ve been called and pulled to coach recreational players and teams. It is through recreational teams/leagues that we are able to focus on what is important.
The Parks and Rec Department wants to “…enhance and promote quality of life…by providing a learning environment and safe active and passive recreational opportunities for all…” The mission of UnFettered Athletics is to change the world by using youth sports to positively influence the lives of children and families in our community. The Parks and Rec provides the learning environment and we provide the instruction. Because our goals and values are aligned, we have been able to develop a fantastic relationship, and through working together we are better able to accomplish our goals.
When I was growing up we had track and/or soccer in the spring, baseball in the summer, football in the fall, and basketball and/or wrestling in the winter. Nowadays, youth sports are extremely competitive, and I am referring to off the field not on it. There are numerous organizations whose focus is on one sport, perhaps all year around. Their focus is being “elite, select, travel, etc.” Their focus is selling membership into their high level clubs. They focus on selling apparel, equipment, private instruction, etc. Their focus is having the most talented players and winning games and tournaments, and having some sort of bragging rights about a game played by children.
Our focus, however, is changing the world. We believe that if we can instill the values of respect, discipline, hard work, integrity, loyalty, humility, pride, and strong moral character off and on the field into our youth that the impact will be compounding. The growth in character in our young athletes will rub off on their families; their siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends at school, etc. As families grow in character they will have a greater impact on our community and can affect the culture of our society and change the game. As our community strives from this impact other communities will see the change and want to be a part of it or initiate change for themselves. Through this we can truly shift the paradigm, change the game, change our nation, and change the world.
The process has already begun elsewhere. In his book, Changing the Game, John O’Sullivan points to the LTAD model used by CS4L (Canadian Sport for Life) and the incredible success they’ve had. He also shares statistics that show how the rest of the world, including much smaller countries have caught up to the United States in sports and athletically. The reason is because the goals for sports are different. They promote athletics, not specifics. They promote lifelong activity and health. They play sports, for fun, as opposed to working sports. They see other more important benefits of youth sports than just winning games or tournaments.
We at UnFettered Athletics have worked countless hours to develop programs and systems that one can plug in to in order to achieve the same results. We work to develop our young athletes as persons, as well as our assistant coaches, our junior coaches, and anyone else we reach. We’ve had families express the difference in their child after just one season. We address behavior issues at home or school. We work hard to offer organization and structure so that families know what to expect when their child participates with us. We do give out participation awards, and we believe greatly in their importance. Our players, our Hustlers, work hard and earn those awards. Our families are involved.
We have three large activities a year that promote who we are and what we stand for.
We invite our entire organization to join us for a professional baseball game every summer. Our third year we had 200 people join us at Werner Park to watch the Omaha Storm Chasers. Our players took the field for the National Anthem, were recognized before and during the game, and numerous players and families participated in between inning activities on the field.
We host a fall fundraiser, where the kids can watch their flag football coaches play an exhibition game. This night includes concessions, face painting, lawn games, raffle prizes, a dunk tank, and tons and tons of family fun.
Lastly, we have just begun our annual spring service project. We had around 30 families and 80 people volunteer at New Visions Homeless Services. We stuffed Easter Eggs, did garden work, prepped food, and helped at their thrift store.
We don’t coach sports; we coach kids. UnFettered Athletics is not the Fetters. We are the numerous families who are involved and want more from youth athletics than just sport. We are young boys, brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents, fathers and coaches. We are changing the game and changing the world. You are. You are UnFettered Athletics. You are changing the world. And you are the Undisputed Champions of Recreational Youth Sports.