It was difficult watching the guys play on ESPN today, and not being there with them. I love being at home with my wife and kids but I know that I am supposed to be with my team. Many of the guys have sent me texts today to check up on me, which is always nice to see. You can tell that the family concept is already taking place, which is a great sign that we are developing into a team. I have told the guys before that we walk into spring training as a group of 60 individuals, with no guarantee that we will develop into a team. Team comes into the equation as we start functioning as one, and looking out for each other.
We have had many opportunities to grow already this spring, and many personal things happen that have challenged what I have said. I have continuously told these guys to have their priorities straight, and some family issues have come up, and the guys have needed to make tough decisions on whether to tend to their families or to stay with the team. The right thing is almost always to put their families first, but it usually puts our team in a tough spot. When we play such a long season, it is inevitable that things happen.
This is also a topic that many youth teams make mistakes with. I understand that it takes commitment to run a good team, but many teams won't let these families have any room to enjoy their summers as a family. I try to encourage these coaches to remember that these kids only have these summer breaks for a few years, when they can make life long memories with their families. Try to have some alternate kids on your roster that can fill in when necessary and have the parents lay out their summer plans early, so you can schedule tournaments and games around the dates that multiple families will be gone. Try it out and see if this helps.