“Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.”
John Wooden

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Broughton coach has helped build 2 strong volleyball programs in Raleigh

cgrant@newsobserver.comOctober 23, 2014 

 — When Jim Freeman took over the Cardinal Gibbons volleyball program in 1991, he knew next to nothing about the sport.
A sudden coaching vacancy forced the then-Gibbons assistant athletics director and former baseball coach to step in and learn on the fly.
“I coached in a state of panic,” said Freeman, now the head volleyball coach at Broughton High School in Raleigh. “I brought people in who did know what was happening. I didn’t have an ego about it. I tried to learn as much as I could, but I was always trying to find great assistants.”
Today, with 23 years of experience under his belt, Freeman is one of North Carolina’s most successful high school volleyball coaches. He led Cardinal Gibbons to 12 state championships while compiling a 426-117 record with the Crusaders. He has also coached at Friendship Christian and St. Mary’s, leading the latter to its first NCISAA state tournament appearance in school history.
Freeman has also found success at Broughton since he was hired last spring. The team earned the No. 1 seed for the East region in this year’s NCHSAA 4A volleyball tournament.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Gibbons is still going strong since Freeman left the program in 2010. The school’s volleyball team is the No. 2 seed in the 3A tournament, and it has won the past five NCHSAA titles in its division.
Freeman’s philosophy remains to surround himself with strong coaches, which is evident in his handling of an emerging Broughton program. During a second-round playoff game against Leesville Road on Tuesday, Freeman made sure he was heard when the team needed it, but a good amount of the in-game talking came from assistant coach Traci Smith.
“It’s an interesting dynamic that I think you probably don’t have in a lot of programs,” said Smith, who was the head coach of the Capitals for two seasons and led the team to last year’s Cap Eight conference title.
Smith, a former player and coach at Appalachian State, knew the time commitment needed to build a strong high school program. Just two years before that conference title, Broughton volleyball won only three games.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Race to Nowhere in Youth Sports

By John O'Sullivan

“My 4th grader tried to play basketball and soccer last year,” a mom recently told me as we sat around the dinner table after one of my speaking engagements. “It was a nightmare. My son kept getting yelled at by both coaches as we left one game early to race to a game in the other sport. He hated it.”
“I know,” said another. “My 10 year old daughter’s soccer coach told her she had to pick one sport, and start doing additional private training on the side, or he would give away her spot on the team.”
So goes the all too common narrative for American youth these days, an adult driven, hyper competitive race to the top in both academics and athletics that serves the needs of the adults, but rarely the kids. As movies such as “The Race to Nowhere” and recent articles such as this one from the Washington Post point out, while the race has a few winners, the course is littered with the scarred psyches of its participants. We have a generation of children that have been pushed to achieve parental dreams instead of their own, and prodded to do more, more, more and better, better, better. The pressure and anxiety is stealing one thing our kids will never get back; their childhood.
The movie and article mentioned above, as well as the book The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids, highlight the dangerous path we have led our children down in academics. We are leading them down a similar path in sports as well.
As I said to my wife recently, the hardest thing about raising two kids these days, when it comes to sports, is that the vast majority of the parents are leading their kids down the wrong path, but not intentionally or because they want to harm their kids. They love their kids, but the social pressure to follow that path is incredible. Even though my wife and I were collegiate athletes, and I spend everyday reading the research, and studying the latest science on the subject, the pressure is immense. The social pressure is like having a conversation with a pathological liar; he is so good at lying that even when you know the truth, you start to doubt it.  Yet that is the sport path many parents are following.
The reason? FEAR!
We are so scared that if we do not have our child specialize, if we do not get the extra coaching, or give up our entire family life for youth sports, our child will get left behind. Even though nearly every single parent I speak to tells me that in their gut they have this feeling that running their child ragged is not helpful, they do not see an alternative. Another kid will take his place.  He won’t get to play for the best coach. “I know he wants to go on the family camping trip,” they say, “but he will just have to miss it again, or the other kids will get ahead of him.”
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