My best life choice
JESSICA NICO is a reporter by day and a volunteer basketball coach by night. As she explains, sports volunteers aren’t really in it for the accolades – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t recognise them.
I AM often shot a look of incredulity when I tell people I volunteer as a junior basketball coach.
Most times that shock deepens when I tell them I coach not one but two teams, juggling almost 20 young teenage boys between them.
Taking up coaching is the best decision I have made.
It can be stressful, players can be irritating in typical teenage fashion, but the benefits far outweigh the few little irks.
I have seen the boys grow in more than just basketball skill and ability – they have become more confident, more respectful and more aware of how their actions impact others.
They are friendlier, better communicators, better leaders, better followers, better team players – all traits that will serve them well as they start to make their way in the world.
For myself, there are the benefits to mental health, a greater sense of community and the feeling of being part of something, of knowing you are making a difference, however small, in the life of a young person.
I see first-hand the struggles my club and others like it have in enticing parents or the wider community to volunteer an hour or two a week, but grassroots sporting clubs can only survive through the generosity of their volunteers and the positives of being involved, of making a difference, are well worth a few hours a week.
If in 10 or 20 years “my boys” don’t remember anything that happened on the court, but remember they had a coach that they respected and had fun with, then it will all have been worth it. That’s why I coach. Ask the coach of any local team and I truly hope their answer and joy would be something similar to mine.