We are so pleased that we have a new guest columnist that will share his insights from time to time. Howie Thompson considers himself a coach first and an author second. In this post, he is sharing his insights into the world of youth sports called, The Fountain of Youth By Coach Howie Thompson.
In 1513 Juan Ponce de Leon searched for the magical “Fountain of Youth” in what we now call Florida. Since that time explorers and most of the youth of our country have journeyed to Florida on their own quests of finding their youth. March has become the new pilgrimage for the youth of our land, to journey to Florida and beyond to take yet another sip from the new Fountain of Youth, Spring Break. Having taken part in several of these Spring Break weeks myself, I can tell you that it is a party unlike any the world has seen. Take the Super Bowl, New Years Eve and St. Patrick’s Day and wrap them all up into one “spicy meat and cheese burrito” and you can only imagine what kind of excitement you can have. But, I digress.
Youth sports in our country has grown from what we knew “back in the day” as Sandlot sports to a multi trillion dollar business. The money spent on youth sports today is staggering. It rivals the National Debt. Parents will spend $150.00 on shoes, $250.00 on a bat and thousands of dollars on skills instruction to make sure that Jenny or Kyle gets anything they need to reach their maximum potential. Parents will constantly be on the lookout for the next great hitting instructor, shooting coach or skills trainer to help their child get the coveted “Golden Fleece”, a full ride scholarship. As they say in business, it is all about the ROI. Return on Investment. In the case of youth sports the investment could be as much as $25,000 over a child’s young career, but this is money well spent when the parents are looking at saving $30,000 per year for 4-5 years of College expenses.
I have coached youth sports from baseball, softball and basketball to lacrosse and soccer for over 30 years. I have been fortunate to obtain 6 full ride scholarships for players who had played with me, either in HS or on a youth team. Over those 30 years, I have coached about 5,000 boys and girls. That works out to 1% of the players got a full ride scholarship. Not exactly what you would call a high percentage. Yet, there are coaches, and skills instructors, trainers and Club Administrator who continually advertise that if you play or train with them, they will assure you that your 12 year old “superstar” will get a free ride. How is this possible? Something you as a parent need to know.
I look forward to hearing from you and watch for my next column. Youth sports should be the life blood of America yet somehow someone is robbing the blood bank. Kids today no longer play pick up anything. They are programmed and practiced to near exhaustion and they play an inordinate amount of games in a season. Sound off America, this is your chance to talk about your children’s hopes and dreams.
Howie Thompson has coached youth sports for over 30 years in CT., NY, NC, SC and Florida. He has won numerous awards which can be seen on his website, howiethompsononline.com. He has authored 3 books, The Complete Guide to Youth Soccer, A Game for All Seasons and just recently Overtime. Howie was a Physical Education Instructor and Women’s Sports Coach at Southeastern Community College, in Whiteville, NC. , and taught for three years as an Adjunct professor at Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, SC. He has coached some 15 soccer, 12 basketball and 8 softball teams in Ct., NY., NC., and SC., over the last 35 years. He is now retired and living in Little River, SC. He has written 5 books and this column in NC and Ga.
Editors note: Howie Thompson has also been branching out into writing about Carolina Beach music and is the author of a book about Fat Harold, the Legendary King of Shag.