Throughout the year I interview lots of really interesting people – mega talented professional athletes, sports psychologists, recreation professionals – but some of the most amazing conversations I have are with our annual Coach and Parent of the Year award winners.
These are extraordinary individuals.
They’re doing marvelous work in their communities.
|Kimberly and her three sons.|
And it’s incredibly inspiring to hear their stories.
Kimberly Atnip, this year's Parent of the Year from Jefferson City, Mo., lost her husband to cancer a year and a half ago.
Yet, as a full-time working mom of three very active boys – you name a sport and they play it – she's always willing to do anything to help out.
And I do mean anything.
She coaches, serves as Team Mom, is in charge of a junior tackle football program for 130 kids, organizes team photos and is the first to step forward whenever the Jefferson City rec department needs volunteers for anything.
This woman is special.
She told me about the rule they have in their house: "I try to remind my kids on a daily basis that they’re not allowed to blame anybody for mistakes on the court or a loss on the field – not the officials, not the coaches, it's nobody's fault. It's just a rule in my house that you're not allowed to complain about stuff like that."
Now how cool is that? She gets it, and the Jefferson City community is lucky to have her.
And then there's James Culps, our Coach of the Year from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.
|James with his soccer players.|
This soft-spoken guy with a giant heart is tireless: He coaches soccer teams in the spring and fall seasons, serves as commissioner, conducts parent education and orientation meetings, assists with game schedules and field set up, conducts sports clinics, puts together the program's end-of-season highlight videos – and so much more.
Angie Gadomski, the youth sports and fitness director at Ellsworth, told me: "He's remarkable. Year after year, season after season, parents come and ask me, 'Is James coaching?'"
Kids love playing for him because they have fun, and they learn skills and strategies.
And parents love that he oozes character. He's a confidence builder, a skill developer, the ultimate role model. Every single child benefits from being around him.
"He is a well-rounded package," Gadomski says. "He is a great young man and we are so glad to have him aboard as one of our co-workers, as I like to say. Even as a volunteer he's still a co-worker."
And when I asked James what role winning plays he told me one of the best lines I've ever heard: "Winning is a goal but it's not the prize. Playing really is the prize."
So as we hit the holiday season take a moment to look at the programs going on in your communities and the people behind them and be thankful for those volunteers influencing young lives in a positive manner.
There are some really wonderful people doing amazing work with children.
And I was lucky enough to meet two of the very best.
National Alliance for Youth Sports, Inc
2050 Vista Parkway
West Palm Beach, Florida 33411
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