This year our 5-year-old son joined a flag football team and just like that I became a football mom. It was our first experience on the sidelines. Lucky for us, our experience wasn’t like the stories you hear about parents being vicious, loud and disrespectful. It was quite the opposite. Here’s a tribute to a sideline hero, #5’s dad.
Hey, #5’s Dad! You sir, are what every sideline needs. I see you and hear you and I’m intrigued. I’m captivated by your genuine enthusiasm. Your authentic way to stay positive in the chaos of the game is refreshing. You are the cheerleader every child deserves. You’re a true role model, the definition of positivity and respect. You come to every game with a smile on your face and grace in your heart. You cheer for everyone, not just your own child. You encourage and you inspire. I admire you.
All season, I’ve watched you cheer for every child on the field, no matter the color of their jersey. I’ve watched you encourage each member of the team, even when they have failed. Especially when they have failed. You stand there clapping, cheering and yelling no matter the outcome. You chant for them to do their best and you encourage them to keep going. You give them a high-five, a warm smile, and lend a hand when they need help. When they mess up, you teach them how to fix their errors. It’s special because you do it with compassion and sincerity. I find myself watching you during games. I find myself wishing more parents were like you, including myself. You’ve taught me a lot about sideline behavior. You’ve made our children’s game experience uplifting, win or lose.
I call you #5’s dad because I never stopped to ask your name. I should have so this story could honor your integrity and poise. On the last game I told you what a blessing you were for our team. I told you what a joy you were to every boy who heard your encouraging and inspiring words. You were beyond humble and smiled with a polite thank-you. I hope you know the lasting impact your positive attitude had on our entire team. The next team to gain you is a lucky one for sure. So, #5’s Dad, here’s what I’ve learned from you. I’m sharing it with the world in hopes that every sideline can have someone like you.
–Make your time in the stands or on the sideline count. Smile! Watch them. Pay attention. Don’t let things distract you. The phone call can wait. The text message isn’t that important and the latest Facebook post will be there later. The game is now. Watch closely, because those kids are watching you.
–Remind them to try their best and never give up. Keep reminding them of this. They’ll need the reminder. Teach them about grit and perseverance.
–When they’ve done their best, encourage them with a positive message, even if their best wasn’t enough. Help them understand that hard work, tenacity and grit are more important than the scoreboard.
–Cheer for everyone. There is a kid on the field that needs the encouragement. If you see someone do something great, let them know. Hard work deserves praise, even if it comes from a stranger.
–Help them improve, but with a kind voice and a helpful heart. You see, they will mess up. They will fail. Help them from making the same mistakes again. Sometimes the best lessons come from failure. Help them see mistakes as learning opportunities.
–Teach them about winning. Winning is important. After all, it’s the goal of the game. Teach them that winning can mean finding small victories in your defeat.
–Keep showing up, win or lose, with a smile, a cheer, and an encouraging spirit. Remind them to go out there and give it there all. Remind them to be smart and use what they’ve learned. Remind them to use the fundamentals that their skill is built upon. Remind them that their team is counting on them. Finally, remind them that no matter the outcome they’re loved and you’re proud to be their parent.
I’m glad I had #5’s Dad to teach me what sideline behavior should look like. Here’s to hoping all sidelines and stadium seats are filled with men and women just like him.
A thirty-something wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.