Your Attitude – Get to know them
I talk with a lot of coaches from all over the Nation about their program. And one of the questions I always ask back when coaches complain about parents, and the lack of parent involvement in their program is “What have you done to get to know them?”
I get it. Parents can be difficult to work with sometimes. But they really can be your most important ally outside of your administration. Remember that not all parents are bad. Not all parents are out for your job. There are parents who want to do whatever they can to support your mission, and their sons. Sometimes the vocal minority outweigh the silent majority. Get to know your parents. Have a parent barbeque, a “Senior Parents Night,” a Parent Volunteer Appreciation Night, Coffee With Coaches, anything to get your parents together to give you an opportunity to get to know them.
Take time to shake their hands, to communicate with them in a variety of ways. Getting to know what makes your parents tick will help you in getting them involved in your program.
I like to shake hands with parents when they talk to me. In 2006, we started off 2-0. It was my first year as the Head Coach there. They were 1-19 in the previous two years. This dad congratulated me after the game, and asked to have a meeting the next week. I said sure. His son was a starter, so I knew it wasn’t about that! He came in, and first thing he did was thank me for always shaking his hand! Said the last coach never was friendly to parents. Then he thanked me for doing a good job with the team, and said “My son has won more games the last two weeks than the last two YEARS. How can I help you?”
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Your Vision – Show the needs
I thanked the dad for his support. Then, I pulled up a list from my computer. It was a list of “Needs” and “Wants,” a list I put together in the two months since I had started there. It wasn’t long, but had some very important things like a digital video camera. The total was $9,500. He wrote a check right there for $10,000. I had NO idea, but this man owned a chain of popular restaurants here in Southern California, started them from scratch.
I basically had a blank check that day, and to be honest, totally wish I had more on that list! But I showed him the needs we had. You’ve got to demonstrate the needs to your parents. We all have different types of parents. Some of them might not care about your needs, but most will. They want to see WHAT you need, and WHY you need what you want. It’s a good idea to show them pictures of what you want, the actual magazine items so they see the costs. A lot of parents are surprised when they see the costs of things in the sports industry.
I also like to “show the need” by demonstrating what other programs we are competing against are charging their players to play, and or what kind of equipment they have. This method helps to put in to perspective what your program’s needs are.
Think about those heartbreaking commercials you see on tv when a company is asking for support to feed the children. What do they do? They tug on your heart strings. They SHOW the need by showing children in less than desirable situations, who obviously need financial support.
People will act when they see a need. Not just “raise money for the Booster Club.” But “our offensive line needs a new sled so they can get better. Here is what our competitor is using, and the state champs use the same thing. This is what we want, the XYZ Sled. Will you help our offensive line get better?”
I know many publics can’t charge much, or don’t charge much to play football. In the private sector, this is different. Years ago when I was at a private school, I was trying to secure more parent involvement in our Booster Club. One document I put together was a list of about eight other private schools in our County, and how much they charged as a participation fee, and a “fundraising fee.” Out of the schools on the list, we were asking the LEAST from our families for them to participate in football. This was a BIG eye opener for our parents. And, it motivated them to get involved.
To conclude, provide opportunities to get to know your parents, let down your guard; share your vision by putting together documents showing what you need. Be specific to help motivate your parents to give and support the program.
Chris Fore has his Masters degree in Athletic Administration, is a Certified Athletic Administrator and serves as an Adjunct Professor in the M.S. Physical Education – Sports Management program at Azusa Pacific University. Coach Fore runs Eight Laces Consulting where he specializes in helping coaches nationwide in their job search process. Fore was named to the Hudl Top 100 in 2017, and the Top 5 Best High School Football Coaches to follow on Twitter by MaxPreps in 2016. Follow him!