With my oldest son reaching the age where he can play tee-ball this summer, my wife asked (read: assumed) that I would jump at the opportunity to coach him. While a small part of me would love to make those memories with my son, a much bigger part of me just wanted to be a dad for those moments for now.
To put it in the simplest of football terms: based on my wife's reaction, you'd have thought I just turned down a fully-guaranteed contract to be an SEC head coach.
Long story short, she's offered to coach the team instead.
But thinking about me taking off my coaching hat to watch him play tee ball brings me to this story from a clip with Mike Gundy that has been floating around.
In the clip, Gundy talks about watching his sun, Gavin, play baseball. For Gundy, it was tough for him to take his coach's hat off.
In fact, Mike shares an illuminating story about some perspective his father provided while they watched Gavin that will really hit home with a lot of coaches that watch their kids play sports.
"I stood up, and I was kind of coaching him [Gavin] from behind the fence while he was batting, and he looked over at me and he says, 'What the hell are you doing?'"
"So I said, what do you mean?"
"He says, 'Well who the hell are you yelling at?' and I said 'Well, Gavin. I'm coaching him."
Mr. Gundy told Mike, "Would you just sit down. You're not coaching him. He's playing in a game. First thing is, you ain't the coach. Second thing is, he's playing in a game so all the coaching is over with. You can't tell him what to do anymore. Let him play. Then, if you want to correct him when he gets home, you can correct him. But you're not coaching him in a game right now."
"All you're doing is frustrating him and making him think about you instead of letting him have fun playing the game," Mr. Gundy went on to share.
Gundy says he just sat down and looked at his dad, who told him "The best thing you can do is sit down and keep your mouth shut and let the kid play."
A great lesson, not only for those of us that have kids, but also for us to remember during our own games. The real coaching should happen in the days leading up to game day.
For whatever reason, probably the fact that I'll have a son fighting nerves for his first tee ball practices and then games soon enough, that message hit home with me today.