My daughter Rachel watches every reality show on TV. I watch a lot of them with her, but one I won’t watch is “Dance Moms.”
This coach is one of the most abusive women, both to the moms and to the kids, that I’ve ever seen. And she’s abusive to the moms in front of their kids, which I think is inexcusable. It’s hard enough to maintain your kid’s respect without having other adults undermine it constantly.
I started to say I don’t understand why so many people allow coaches to abuse their kids, but that would be a lie.
When Rachel was playing soccer, we caught the fever for her to be the best, get on a great competitive team, the whole thing. We traveled to tournaments, dragging our two younger kids. I remember one tournament where it was so cold, the little ones were huddled unmoving behind a wind break we had tried to create. Finally a parking spot opened up within sight of the field and we allowed them to warm up there. They ended up tearing loose the wiring on the rear-window defroster. Served us right for dragging our poor kids out into blustery, 30-degree weather.
Rachel was having knee pain and feeling burned out, so I asked the coach if she could take a winter indoor session off to rest. Understand, they played spring, summer 3-on-3, fall, and two winter indoor sessions. The indoor sessions actually overlapped both each other and the winter and spring outdoor sessions. One weekend we were scheduled for a game Friday night at 11:00 and another Saturday morning at 6:00. The parents were like, “What do you expect us to do, sleep in the parking lot?” They had half the team play at 11:00 and half play at 6:00. The team practiced three times a week. So I thought taking a couple of weeks off should be okay. They coach said if she did, he would move her down to the less prestigious team.
And I caved.
Later, the team went to a tournament in which we had exactly enough girls to field a team with no substitutions. They played a game in the morning, and then another in the afternoon. They were exhausted, and the coach was over at another field with another one of his teams, so the girls coached each other and did the best they could.
A little before half-time, the coach came over, already in a bad mood because the other team had lost. He apparently wasn’t satisfied with the girl’s self-coaching, because at half-time, he wouldn’t let them leave the field. They stood at attention in their positions while he stomped back and forth along the half-field line, yelling. In front of the other team and all of the parents. After the girls had not sat down or had a drink of water for the entire first half. When it was time for the second half to begin, they raced to the side, got a mouth-full of water, and ran back out for the second half.
The parents of the other team were horrified. I could hear people saying things like, “What’s wrong with that man? The only reason our team is still in this is those girls are exhausted.”
I was humiliated that I had allowed this man to treat my child so badly, and it took the other team’s parents to make me see how bad it was.
Not long after, we took her off the team and found one that remembered the point of kids’ athletics: To have fun. Not to make their coach or parents look good. Not to change the world of sports. Not to make money for organizations.
We have this weird attitude in this country: Work harder than everyone else; first to arrive, last to leave; don’t take your vaction days, it looks like you aren’t committed; come to work sick as a dog; work half the evening in (unpaid) overtime. Neglect your husband or wife. Neglect your kids. Neglect yourself.
And then we put that attitude on a bunch of little kids who just want to run and jump and play games. We are crazy people.