When I was young, even younger than I am now, I remember the first night the Beatles appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” This was just after the invention of the wheel. These young men had new clothes and new haircuts that are very tame by today’s standards, but were viewed as ‘wild and crazy’ close to sixty years ago.
The hue and cry included: “What is going on with the youth of today?” or “Our young people show me that our world is heading for ruin.” In truth, people have said similar things about young people for generations.
For close to three years, I have had the opportunity to cover high school sports for the Northshore Journal. Some time in the next week or two, I will have written my last article. (I worry that local lakes have too many walleyes, and someone has to help manage the population.) Here is what I have learned: Kids nowadays….. are pretty great! In fact, I would use the words incredible, impressive, and perceptive. I have been fortunate in that I have met and interviewed some amazing young people (and I have been lucky enough to coach some amazing young ladies in both Silver Bay and Two Harbors) and I find them personable, bright, ambitious, and kind.
Adults are quick to say that young people live on their electronic devices, but the young people I regularly visit with have amazing interpersonal skills. They are great conversationalists and they all seem to have a wonderful sense of humor, or are at least polite enough to laugh at my dumb jokes.
When I earned my high school head coaching certification five years ago, I finished the training with a one day program sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League. They began by asking us all “why do students play sports?” Most of us answered something about their desire to compete, to challenge themselves, or to win a championship. We were all wrong. By a large margin, young people participate to have fun and be with their friends.
As I have interviewed Two Harbors Agates, Silver Bay Mariners, Cook County Vikings, and North Shore Storm athletes, most of them say the same. They want to compete, sure, but they want to do something they love and do it with their friends. Time and time again, they talk about their responsibilities to their young teammates to be good role models for them, to teach and mentor them, and to watch out for them. Countless young people have told me that they love that they have made friends in other communities and that while they all want to win….there is a lot more to it for them.
I would guess that over the course of three years, I have interviewed several hundred young people. Without exception, I left each visit with a positive impression of the athlete or their coach or the qualities and values they have been taught. I know that I am left with the belief that many of the people I have coached or met through interviews will be considered friends of mine for a long, long time.
Kids nowadays. Pretty impressive bunch.