A few years ago a reader sent in this photo. I find myself going back and looking
at it quite often. While I know the names of the father and son featured in the
photo, that part isn’t important. When I look at the photo, I see the true meaning
of youth sports, I see the passion and love for one another and the sharing of
such positive emotion.

Many times in youth sports, our perspective gets lost on winning, losing and
performance on the field. For some reason the perspective gets lost more in the
younger ages than the older ages. I know, mind blowing,
right? It’s only a game and they are only 7,8,9,10 years old yet at times we all let our
emotions destroy the true meaning of what youth sports are supposed to be all about.

Due to the nature of my job, I am around youth sports on a daily basis, whether a high school state
championship game or the first game of the year for a group of T-ball players. I listen and learn
with my eyes and ears. Some of the things I hear are frightening and some are very heartwarming.
As I mentioned before, I see and hear more frightening things in the younger age groups. I can go
to a game with youngsters involved and hear far more screaming and negative talk than I do at
high school games. It can blow you away if you take the time to truly listen.

In full disclosure, I have been on each side. When my son was younger, I made mistakes as a
Dad and as a coach in how I approached the games. I instantly regretted many situations. Thankfully,
I also have thousands of positive memories to hold onto. With each day, month and year, I believe
my philosophy and approach has improved. I was very lucky to have been best friends with the late
Lou Pressuti, Founder of Cooperstown Dreams Park. Coach Presutti taught me so much about
sports, life and coaching. I have had other folks in my life that I learned about proper approach
and balance from. I have a deep love and an even deeper passion for seeing children succeed in a
positive environment. I understand now that mistakes are physical not mental. Children don’t set
out to make mistakes in their games, emotionally they all want to do positive things for themselves,
their parents and for their team. No child tries to miss a ground ball or fails to
accept a pass in soccer or double dribble a basketball. When adults begin to harp
on mistakes and tear down children, many times other children, they are losing
perspective on not only youth sports but life in general. They are also creating
negative feelings in the child’s mind and setting their confidence back.

Life is short, childhood even shorter. It’s not worth creating negative experiences
for any child. We need to lift children up, help them to learn how to improve
to the best of their ability and more importantly, we
need to teach them to love the game and the overall experience of competing.  We aren’t placed here as
parents to raise professional athletes, we are placed here to provide a positive upbringing for our children
and to give them the tools needed to succeed in life.

Trophies are wonderful for the five minute period they are presented, but before they make it back
to the car, quite often, they are nothing more than a collector of dust. Memories can last a lifetime, trophies
can end up in a corner of the attic in a short time. The friendships children can build with their
teammates have the opportunity to last a lifetime if we let them.

Youth sports are special and I am so very lucky and blessed to be fully engulfed in the workings of
youth sports in our community. I thank the Lord every day to have been placed in this position to be
able to make a positive impact in the lives of many youth. I have been given a blessing when I watch
so many special friends that I worked with for the last decade move onto college and the next step of
their lives.

I urge each of you to think of a way to turn any negative emotions into positive ones and to impact
the lives of not only your child but other children around you. Life is tough, let’s all pledge to look up
and ahead versus down and backwards.

Enjoy your summer and thank you for your support of today’s youth.

Tripp Roakes
South Charlotte Sports Report