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Oct 04


Posted on October 4, 2021 at 1:56 PM by Timothy O'Connor

Newspaper Article for August 14, 2021


Drake Simonson – Recreation Supervisor

Researchers have studied the role of youth sports coaching for many years. Studies show that sports coaches who give positive reinforcement, provide effective feedback, and foster a caring climate provide the best developmental outcomes for children. Become a positive role model for the youth of our community and consider volunteering to be a coach for one, or more, of our youth sports programs!

Hi Owatonna, my name is Drake Simonson, and I am the new Recreation Supervisor overseeing adult and youth sports programs. You might recognize my name as I previously worked with the Owatonna Parks and Recreation department from 2015 to 2020 as a Recreation Facility Assistant where I would have been working at all our recreational facilities - West Hills Tennis & Fitness Center, the Social Commons, River Springs Waterpark, and Brooktree Golf Course. I returned to the City about a month ago and have been actively learning and getting acclimated to my new responsibilities. I am coming in with an educational background in Parks and Recreation, emphasis in Leisure Planning and Management, with work experience in youth sports planning from the Mankato Family YMCA, School Age programming with the Northwest YMCA in New Hope and special event planning while in my previous role with the City. I look forward to serving our great community in this position to put-on high-quality sports programs for all to enjoy. I can be reached at 507-774-7362 or and my office will be located on the second floor of the West Hills Social Commons building.

Coaching! As we are gearing up for another great year, following the school calendar, of youth sports, we will be seeking volunteers to be coaches for our variety of programs. From football, volleyball, basketball, soccer, to t-ball and softball - We cannot put on these programs without the great help we get from individuals, parents & guardians, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and older siblings who volunteer to be positive mentors and coaches for the youth who participate. Even if you are or have been on the fence about coaching, I encourage you to take that step and volunteer to be a coach, you will not only benefit the kids on the team, but you’d be surprised how much the coach can get out from it as well.

Sarah Daren, a featured writer on the Today Show website and has been a consultant for organizations across a number of industries including athletics, health and wellness, technology and education has 5 great benefits of being a youth athletic coach which will hopefully inspire you to become a coach for one of our many youth sports programs.

(1) Coaching is Fun and Empowering

What's better than watching the kid who could barely kick a ball when you started, become your team's top goal-scorer? As a coach, you get to see these kinds of transformations on a regular basis, knowing that you were a part of that transformation. It's empowering to help kids grow as individuals and as a team.

You'll gain new leadership skills as you go and help your players find their place and personalities. As an added bonus, coaching can be just plain fun when the players are having a blast on the field or court. When your team wins, you'll feel a sense of achievement and get to enjoy your players' satisfaction and confidence in their own skills. (Though our emphasis is on teaching the players the game, skills they need to move forward in the sport, how to be a good teammate and have a positive attitude on the field and overall have FUN, not winning or losing, we all know coaches, parents and the players keep score)

(2) Personal Self Development

You'd be surprised to learn how many skills you improve as a coach. You might think that you're only helping your team improve their game and their social skills, but the truth is that you'll inevitably go through some personal self-development as well.

Being a youth coach forces you to grow and get creative. When you're working with kids, you can't lose your temper, which teaches you new methods of dealing with irritation and conflict. It's important to lead with patience and be a calm presence, even when you're angry or frustrated (working with kids, it definitely happens). You'll need to adapt and hone your ability to change your tone, learn to use good negotiation tactics, and above all, communicate.

(3) Create Lifelong Relationships

The kids you coach and help on your team won't forget the role you played in their lives. Years later, you may still be in contact with them or their parents. These valuable relationships can show you why it's so important that team sports exist-and why good coaches shape lives.

(4) Improve Your Communication

In coaching, you'll always be learning new lessons and having to adapt to the situations around you. That means working with many different types of kids-and parents. Communication is one of the most important skills in life, and coaching can help you become a better communicator through practice. As long as you're always working to be better and looking out for ways to improve, coaching a team will always teach you about more effective ways to communicate with people from all walks of life.

(5) Be a Mentor to the Youth

Coaches are mentors, first and foremost, and they need to remember that every moment. While it's easy to get caught up in the adrenaline of a game, a good coach has to make little decisions all the time about what the individual player needs. As a mentor, building kids up and giving them the tools they need to succeed is top priority.

Ultimately, people choose to become youth coaches because they love it. They love giving back, helping kids excel, and mentoring the next generation. Unlike so many other jobs, coaching has real meaning, and great coaches make a positive impact on every player they encounter. As a coach, the greatest reward is the personal impact you'll make on other human beings every day you're on the field.

If coaching is something you have thought about and never pursued, I strongly encourage you to take that step and become a youth coach. As I previously stated, coaches make our programs what they are, we can’t do this on our own. We value our coaches and know that they take time out of their busy schedules to work with our youth. It is a great way to spend extra time with your kids and bond over something they enjoy doing, even if you are not really sure of the sport, there is plenty of material online to help people be a strong and effective coach for all sports.

Thanks Owatonna! I look forward to continue putting on great sports programs for the youth of our community as well working to grow our adult leagues.