By Brian Smith of Brian and Bryan TV! Head Coach at Lone Star Gymnastics Ft. Worth. Find Brian on Instagram and Twitter @brianlonestar Be sure to LIKE and SUBSCRIBE to the Show on YouTube!
With all the atrocities going on with USAG I have been forced to sit back and think about what the priorities are inside of my program and ask myself if they are consistent with the goals of a Kids First Program. In my opinion it all comes down to this list of priorities that I believe every Coach and gym owner should follow and teach to its program. I am not dictating that everyone be forced to order their priorities as I have mine. However, I am trying to get everyone to stop and think about what REALLY matters at the end of the day and prioritize appropriately for them, their athletes and the families they serve while growing their businesses. Here are my TOP FOUR:
To be honest we have used this list in my program for a very long time and it is something that we have to use fairly often when we are in athlete/parent meetings. When using this list as your top priorities you will start to find out where gymnastics ranks in your life and the life of the families that you work with. Often times parents, athletes, and coaches begin to get confused on what is most important in their life and then when things are heading down the wrong path begin to grow frustrated. Let break it down.
Family is the top priority, we cannot take 100% of the athlete’s time away from their family and assume that they will turn out to be a GREAT human being or even a great gymnast for that matter. Family teaches you things that a coach cannot AND should NOT teach an athlete. When coaches step over the line they end up setting themselves and their gyms up for lawsuits and they begin putting athletes in unhealthy situations. Don’t believe me, look at USAG at the moment, it’s full of kids whose lives were negatively impacted because everyone’s priorities were about getting an edge up on the competition.
Faith and religion is the foundation for my life and in my opinion it should be the foundation for every family. Faith teaches us about the human condition, to put others ahead of ourselves, and how to live a life worth living. It is often difficult for me to get upset with an athlete who is asking to leave workout early to go to a church function because going to church is a GOOD thing and it is something that we should want in our personal lives as well as for our athletes. You do not have to be a faith based organization to make sure that this is a priority for the families that you work with.
School is the next priority because no matter how great or terrible an athlete is they will one day no longer be a gymnast and will need at least a high school diploma to be successful in this world. The moment an athlete starts their junior year in high school I start the conversations with an athlete about what their plans are, what they need to do to make their dreams possible, and about how they CAN accomplish their goals IF THEY PUT THEIR WORDS INTO ACTION!
Gymnastics is LAST on our priority list for our families because in the end Gymnastics is just a tool to help these young men and women grow into great human beings. Human beings that are set up to find a great job, have a great family, and live a life worth living.
Does having priorities out of order effect my program and my athlete’s gymnastics? Absolutely, but remember this, no matter how much you want an athlete to reach his/her full potential in this or any sport, it is more important that they reach their full potential as a person. In my opinion USA Gymnastics was and still is acting as a “winning at all costs” first organization when they should , after all this mess they have gotten themselves into, change course, start a new chapter and become a kid’s first organization. We hope and pray that they make the right changes in leadership and refocus the organization before they totally destroy it and all the good that it has done.