A Grandfather's letter for all parents and grandparents of little leaguers
Coach Steve would have said, "Amen".
I’m so grateful that you’ve volunteered to be the coach of my grandchild’s ice hockey team. I’m getting a bit too old to be out on the ice with these young kids and without you volunteering, it’s possible my Bryan wouldn’t have an opportunity to play this wonderful game that’s meant so much to his father and uncles and myself.
My Bryan made it through tryouts. You might have thought that the tryouts were to see whether or not Bryan was good enough to make your team. That wasn’t it at all. It was to see if you were good enough to be entrusted with my grandchild. You see, I don’t really care if you know much about hockey, or whether you have a winning record. I don’t know or care if you’ve ever coached a kid that made it the NHL, or Division I college hockey, or even high school. But I know that every one of the kids you coach will have a life to lead after hockey. You will coach far more doctors and lawyers than professional hockey players. So I’m more interested in what kind of a role model you are and your ability to teach Bryan life lessons than whether you can teach him the left wing lock or backwards crossovers.
Let me explain why I don’t care if you have a winning record. Think back over all the games you played in organized sports as a kid – any and all the sports. Can you remember any of the scores of any of those games or even if you won or lost? If you’re like me you can’t remember many – if even one. But I can remember every coach I ever had. Mr. Sterkenberg, Mr. Naerebout, Mr. VanderMey, and others. I can even picture them in my mind. Images of good men who taught me (whether they knew it or not) sportsmanship, integrity, to play by the rules, and to have fun. They made a lasting impression on me, just as you will have a lasting impression on my little Bryan. But apparently winning wasn’t important enough for me to remember. Bryan hasn’t been enrolled in the youth hockey program to win. He’s been enrolled to have fun, to increase his athleticism, and to learn life lessons.
What kind of a lasting impression will you have? You are his coach, a position just bit lower than the angels. He will hang on your every word. He will skate into the boards for you. He will never forget you as you’ve never forgotten your coaches. And he will learn from you, perhaps as much by what you do as what you say. You are the potter and Bryan is the clay.
For example, if you pick your team based on talent and ability you will show Bryan that talent and ability are the criteria that a person needs to be successful. If you pick your team based on the associations you have – that is, your GM’s kid gets to play, your brother-in-law’s kid is on the power play – each regardless of ability – you will show Bryan that you get ahead in life by who you know, accomplishment and achievement don’t count for as much as connections.
If you tell the kids, “Every one pays equally, everyone plays equally” and then only some kids get on the power play and play in the third period, you influence kids about the meaning of honesty and deception.
If you say disparaging remarks about the other team, the other coach, or the officials, you demean the game and incidentally yourself and you teach Bryan that it’s okay – perhaps even manly – to be disrespectful and pejorative.
If you need to put ringers on your team to be competitive in an out-of-town tournament, you are influencing your players about your standard of honesty and the importance of winning at the cost of your integrity.
If you say a disparaging remark about education, you may depreciate the value of education – this in a sport where if you aspire to play at a higher level, good grades may be as – or more important than – your hockey skill.
Your demeanor, your language, your deportment, your values, your aspirations, your character becomes the role model. You are the potter, Bryan is the clay.
You see, I don’t even think this is about hockey at all. It’s about teaching Bryan life lessons. It’s about re-enforcing the lessons he learns at home. Hockey is just the blossom we use to attract the bees. And we attract the bees to teach them to respect the game, to respect their opponents as worthy competitors, to respect the officials and their decisions, to teach them fairness, and how to maintain self-control.
If he’s a good player, I hope you won’t aggrandize him or over use him but help him be a team player. If he’s a poor player, I hope you won’t demean him but give him his fair share of ice time and help him become a better player. I hope you will remember he’s just a child and your career as a coach isn’t riding on his back. I hope you will remember that a word of encouragement after a mistake is worth more than a pile of praise after a success.
My son, Dan, and I started the IT PAYS initiative because for all its inherent good, changes in youth sports are very disturbing to us. There are the well publicized instances of cheating, abuse, assaults, and even murder. But these are only the tip of the iceberg. The sport is having ever increasing difficulty attracting and keeping officials because of verbal abuse and assaults by coaches and parents. Skilled players are leaving the game because of violent play by bigger less skilled players who are instructed “take them out” instead of improving their own level of play to compete successfully. A win-at-a-cost mentality demeans less skilled players who may rarely see ice time in the third periods of close games – which ironically impacts their ability to improve.
Sadly, some coaches have taken the fun out of the game for the children by exerting too much pressure, being too critical, being demeaning, and being too vocal in an inappropriate way. The consequences of losing sight of the purpose of youth sports – that is as a game of childhood, a wonderful pastime – is that the life lessons that are being taught are less than wholesome and sometimes destructive.
Dan and I hope that you will wholeheartedly continue to support goals of IT PAYS – for the good of this great game, for its reputation, and for the positive influence we hope you’ll have on the child we entrusted to you.
- Jay M. Bylsmaat
Mentor, Drew Cohen, with Jaylen
THE TITANS GET NEW UNIFORMS
Subject: RE: Steve Kurtz Foundation and the Titans
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2016 17:34:36 +0000
Yes!!! we just received the check! Thank you so much for all your help with the Titans. My wife actually told me about the check as I was leaving with the team to go on the road.
At the moment, I'm at Perfect Game in Boston with the 15u boys. Everyone was super excited when we announced the donation at our team meeting. I also explained that we need to take photos and do a thank you video. We have our hands full at this tournament because its a big national.
I can't tell you how good it feels to know that we have the support from people who know we care about these kids.
The 17u lost at this weekends tournament, but I really felt like we won. The umpires and tournament officials had nothing but praise for the team. The 17u's excitement when they got new "full" uniforms they never had before (from the Kurtz Foundation) is hard to explain and because of their sportsmanship and game play and of course looking goood in the new uni's, the tournament asked me to host a local tournament with proceeds going to the Titans. Big win!!
I seen my boys win big and never seen them as happy as I did after a loss this weekend. Its moments like that.. that keeps us going.
Thanks Jon and welcome to the Titans family.
p.s - I attached a photo of the boys from this weekend in the new uniforms.
I want to express my deepest gratitude and thanks to you, and Mr. Kurtz, and The Steven E. Kurtz Foundation for the more than generous donation! I find it difficult to put into words how thankful I really am.
This money helps these kids so much!
The Titans cannot compete with the registrations of many of the programs because that isn't really what's best for the kids. We want them to have a safe, fun, environment where any kid can realize his or her potential...EVEN IF THEY CAN'T AFFORD $3,000 A SEASON !
Your donation helps us to stay operating! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
As we get closer to actually playing, I'll reach out about the tournament and provide you with all of the details.
Once again, from all of the Titans Baseball Club......
TITANS BASEBALL CLUB
MORE TITANS PHOTOS HERE.
Good morning, Mr. Kurtz.
I had a very nice conversation with Dorothy yesterday about Shriners Hospitals for Children and how you are interested in making a gift to our music and recreation therapy programs in honor of your son. We offer the music therapy and recreational therapy through our Child Life Program at each of our 22 hospitals. Within this program, Child Life Specialist work to comfort kids when they arrive, educate them on the procedures they’ll have, and then help them transition back home. Music and recreational activities are a large part of this program. Below, please find additional information on each.
To help children cope with the challenges of prolonged hospitalizations and repeated surgical intervention, and as a critical aspect of our collaborative care approach, Shriners Hospitals offer music therapy programs. We employ specially trained music therapists to address the physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of children of all ages. Our board certified music therapists use the clinical application of music to achieve individualized patient goals in both individual and group settings. The music therapists work as part of a patient’s treatment team, alongside child life specialists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, nurses and physicians.
Each music therapy experience is specifically tailored to meet the needs of each patient. The expressive nature of music helps promote positive coping and decreases anxiety while also reinforcing rehabilitative goals. For example, children working on hand dexterity can work with the music therapist to grasp jingle bells or drum sticks or learn to strum a guitar. Music is naturally therapeutic and provides a less intimidating way of engaging children in rehabilitative therapy, adding an element of control for our patients. Music therapy can normalize a patient’s hospitalization and children typically show increased emotional expression once engaged in the program.
Every child is different, yet they all share one thing in common: a desire to be active. Children long to swim, climb, and hike — they want to paddle through lakes, tumble over mats, and be artistically creative. We want that, too!
Our year-round recreational therapy programs use outdoor adventure, sports, art and music to help kids get active and be healthy, despite their orthotic condition. These activities aren’t just fun, they are an important part of the therapy environment to help improve our patients’ quality of life.
Instruction, adaptive and other equipment, volunteer assistance and related materials are provided. These programs enable kids to improve their physical, emotional, and mental health, as well as their functional abilities, balance, coordination, strength and fitness.
Please watch this beautiful You Tube video about our music specialist at our Boston Shriners Hospital.
If you are interested in learning more, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Or, donations can be sent to the address below:
Shriners Hospitals for Children
Attn: Catherine McDonough, Manager of Foundation Relations
Thank you for your interest in learning more about Shriners Hospitals for Children and the outstanding care and support we provide to over 140,000 patients and their families each year. If you have any questions or need any additional information, please let me know.
Manager, Corporate & Foundation Relations
Thank you for sending the information about the Shriners Hospitals for Children's music therapy and recreational therapy through your "Child Life Program" at each of of your 22 hospitals.
I have met with our board of directors and reviewed your email with them. We were very impressed with the Child Life Program and touched by the video you provided. Our Foundation's mission is to work with children in music and athletics.
On behalf of The Steven E. Kurtz Foundation, I am pleased to advise you that the board of directors have approved a donation to the Child Life Program in the amount of $2500.00.
When we forward the donation to the address provided in your email, can it be noted that it for your Child Life Program?
If possible, can we use your logo on our website for our donors as well. Our website address is:
We hare very excited to make this donation and trust it will become an annual donation.
The Steven E. Kurtz Foundation
Normand Kurtz, President
212 580 4747