Volunteer coaches nurture lifelong lessons

An age-old adage holds that young people do not care what a coach knows until they know that he or she cares. Once a quality relationship has been established between a player and a coach, positive things tend to happen that are in many ways more important than the game’s final score.

Studies in both the United Kingdom and the United States concluded that benefits of team sports include better physical health, increased confidence from learning new skills, and lasting friendships to name only a few.

Playing sports also helps children learn how to deal with adversity and disappointment.

While parents often lay the framework for “how to play,” the hard work of volunteer coaches must be acknowledged and appreciated.

Such is the case with the Port St. Joe Little League baseball and softball volunteers whose teams recently ended their seasons at the respective district tournaments.

Asked why she served as a volunteer coach, Jamie Bishop said that “one of the best things you can do for someone is offer up some of your time, and it doesn’t cost you a cent. As a matter of fact, it actually fills you up with joy to see how happy the girls get when they do well. And you get excited when they get excited.”

Bishop worked with the 10-and-under softball All-Stars along with head coach Ben Ashcraft and assistant Randon Hicks. Her comments typify the feeling among coaches that they usually gain much more than they give.

The 8-and-under softball team’s coaches were Will Cribbs, Megan Peek, and Sandy Quinn. Besides having the “opportunity to coach my two girls,” Cribbs said that he was able to make “new friends through the game of softball.”

Heather Peacock, who along with Chilly Bailey coached the 12-and-under softball stars, views coaching as “an opportunity to pass on the love of the game to a younger generation.

“Even if you do not see immediate results, coaches are planting seeds of good work ethics, teamwork, positive attitudes, and perseverance that in time will eventually bloom,” she said.

Josh Dailey, head coach of the AA (8-and-under) baseball All-Stars, believes “investing in our youth is an investment in their future.”

Coaching high school varsity sports for more than a decade “really helped me to realize how critical it is to have quality volunteer coaches at the youth level,” he said. “Teaching the fundamentals while making it fun is key.”

“Being successful at the collegiate and high school levels starts with having successful youth programs,” said Dailey, who was assisted this season by Brayden Dailey, Jim Norton, Clay Smallwood, and Alex Strickland.

The AAA (10-and-under) baseball All-Stars were led by head coach Dave Walleyn, along with assistants John Bartley and Tim Petersen.

John Brewer took the helm of the oldest group, Ozone (12-and-under), assisted by Greg Knox and long-time volunteer Mark Costin.

Although none of the city teams brought home a first-place trophy from the district tournament, all the All-Star boys and girls “won” because of the quality coaching and the positive role modeling they received from this fine group of men and women who served the community as volunteer coaches.

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper NonDoc.com during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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