Take It Day By Day

He agreed, and the following week before the game started, he stepped to the middle of the court and spoke to the spectators, apologizing for his actions and swearing he would learn from the incident and become a better role model and coach. He did this on his own, and I have to say I was quite proud of him.

He went on to coach in our league for the next nine years until his son graduated from high school, and he was one of the best coaches I ever had.

Share a story from your job that put a smile on your face.

A 9-year-old girl came into my office to register for the youth basketball program, and told me she had a great time learning basketball and making new friends, and she really loved her coach. She couldn’t wait for the season to start and for the pizza party during March Madness.

How does that not put a smile on your face?

What is the most challenging parent/spectator situation you have dealt with?

An angry parent ran out of the stands at the end of a game and confronted a coach about not playing the father’s son enough during the game. It started with a lot of finger-pointing and yelling, and the worst part was it occurred in front of the third-grade teams that had just finished playing.

We quickly escorted the two men out of the gym and into an office so they could calm down and talk things out. The parent was able to explain his frustration, and the coach was able to discuss how he coached his team. In the end, both men shook hands, and the season went on with no other disruptions. The child involved went on to have a great season.

What is the best advice you have received that enabled you to perform your job better?

The best piece of advice I ever received came from a good friend telling me to read Phil Jackson’s book “Sacred Hoops.” I can’t tell you how that book changed my life, my way of thinking, my way of performing my job, and my working with kids. Zen philosophy has helped me guide my own future, to see what it has to offer and prepare for it.

Fred Engh is founder and CEO of the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) in West Palm Beach, Fla. He can be reached via e-mail at fengh@nays.org. To join more than 3,000 communities by starting a NAYS chapter, visit www.nays.org or contact Emmy Martinez at emartinez@nays.org or (800) 729-2057.

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