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Next Level Sports

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Feb, 2016

Head Coach's Message: NL Flag - More Than A Game

Next Level Flag Football - More Than a Game

The purpose of this email is to remind the NL Flag Family to maintain perspective in the final weeks of the season. I hope you take time BEFORE this weekend’s games to read this email.

Proper balance and perspective in youth sports is at the center of our philosophy. We are trying to create an environment where young players can enjoy playing without too much parent “drama.” Our hope/vision is that this “Kids First” environment will get into the hearts of our children – Our Kids are at the center of all of our attention!  With that said, we are a “One Trophy League” (actually 12 trophies that go to one team). We keep score and we have winners and losers each week. We have standings, playoffs and a championship game. We DO NOT believe in participation trophies.

The two philosophies of a Kids-First League vs. a One Trophy League seem to be at odds with one another. Admittedly, sometimes our coaches and parents struggle with this – but isn’t it through life’s struggles that we learn the most about ourselves? (Click here to Read The Struggle of the Butterfly with your kids) At Next Level, we believe that the perfect balance between putting kids first and letting them compete for one trophy can exist.

So as we near the finish line on the 2016 season, I thought this was a good time to ask the simple question: “What is the definition of winning?”

The answer to this question is not as easy as it may seem. Webster’s Dictionary defines winning as:

A:  to gain in or as if in battle or contest <won the championship>

B:  to be the victor in <won the war>.

Webster’s definition of winning is very black and white; however, the definition of winning is not black and white when it comes to youth sports. The line between winning and losing becomes more and more blurred as you go from the top (NFL) of football down to the very bottom (Kindergarten Flag Football).

The NFL is a business where players are paid to play. It is their job. For the 32 organizations in the NFL there is one objective: To win.

What about High School football? What is the definition of winning at this level? Can you actually gain in a loss? Since High School sports are truly amateur, I believe that teams can win when they lose. Sometimes the best lessons learned at this level are through difficult losses and disappointment. For those of us involved in high school football for the right reasons….High School Football is not all about winning. High School Football is more about relationships and the opportunity to teach life lessons through the great game - Commitment, Personal Accountability, Sacrifice, and Work – Ethics matter.

Finally, in youth sports, and specifically at Next Level Flag Football, what is the definition of winning? As parents, we make the mistake of using our kids’ youth sports or the happiness of our children to define ourselves. Our kids are no better or worse if their team wins or loses a youth sporting event. Likewise, as parents, we are no better individuals if our kids catch a pass or drop it. Our character is not defined by the the scoreboard in a Flag Football Game.

With this in context, if Webster’s were to post the definition of a winner at Next Level Flag Football it would read:

A: An individual who uses real game situations as an opportunity to teach/learn greater life lessons in both wins and losses.

B: A player, coach or parent who understands the scoreboard is insignificant when dealing with the feelings, emotions and growth of a child.

So what is a win in Next Level Flag Football? I will provide a personal story here to assist: Being the Head Coach of Next Level Flag Football I have the opportunity to see our program through the eyes of ALL of our parents - Through your feedback I hear of all of the good things we are doing and I get to hear about all of the areas where we need improvement. I also get to see our league through the eyes of my two boys who are Next Level Participants (5th and 2nd Grades).

Over the years my 5th Grade son's team has enjoyed many wins and few losses. In contrast, my 2nd Grade son’s team had their first win in the last two years last weekend. On the final play of the game, the Student Referee called the ball one inch short of the goalline. In our house - when a great win is earned we get to choose our Meal of the Week. We actually get to eat, savor, and taste our victories. Seeing my 2nd son’s smiling face and feeling the sheer joy of his first win in two years as he swallowed bites of his Mac and Cheese reminded me that wins at Next Level come in many ways.

Thank you for your commitment to Next Level Flag Football. Please enjoy the final weeks of the season - here’s to some Mac and Cheese and keeping things in perspective!

Coach Patrick Walsh

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Next Level Sports

 385 1st Avenue
San Mateo, California 94401