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A few days from now, my son Admir Jeremiah Bergner will be born into this world. Bringing a life to this planet, a life that I will now be responsible for, scares me.

Not so much the ensuing labor, hospital stay, poopy diapers, getting up at 2 a.m. to bring A.J. from the crib to his mother, the endless barrage of puke fests, or watching an infant child for several hours by myself.

What scares me is one simple question. This simple question has caused many sleepless nights over the past few weeks. Or the countless minutes of staring into the distance like I were a war-weary veteran with the 1,000-yard stare.

That question is: What type of father, or parent, will I be for this child?

Since I am the head boys basketball coach at Sedona Red Rock High School, and have coached teenagers since 2004 for the Scorpions, I’ve been privy to hundreds of kids, and their parents.

Many players were excellent, full of commitment, pride and joy for the game. Their parents were supportive of me and what we were trying to accomplish.

There are, of course, other players, who at times could be destructive, and they had similarly destructive parents. There have also been good kids with athletic-agenda-filled parents and troubled kids with parents who don’t have the answer as to why their child acts like they do.

In the end, for all the years in being around parents and supervising their children during athletic competition, I’ve found that for the most part, they are only looking out for their own.

This leads to another big question for me, which is what type of athletic parent will I be?

This is not to say A.J. will be born into athleticism, but come on, I’m 6 feet 8 inches tall, love sports, coach basketball and write about athletics for a living. I played hoops in college and several other sports in high school. How could he not be at least involved a little?

Will I be the father who yells from the stands at the referee or instructs my kid play-by-play when all he wants to do is what his coach tells him?

Will I be the parent who goes home after the game and complains about the coaching or how bad the officiating was, or will I come to terms with maybe my son shouldn’t have fumbled the ball on the 1-yard line twice?

Will I be the parent who bashes the head coach behind his or her back because I think A.J. should be playing more instead of realizing I’m not at practice, and I don’t truly know what is going on?

Will I be the parent who decides to take my son away from the team because it suits the family instead of thinking of the rest of the team and all that depend on him?

Or will I be the father who coaches his son through his childhood and on into high school until he’s 18?

I’m completely fine with fathers, or parents, stepping in and coaching their young athletic hopefuls until high school, but once they reach high school, as a coach myself, I’m not the biggest fan in the world of having parents on the payroll.

It seems most of the time the parent is coaching for his or her child and not the program. When the child graduates, he or she too, graduates. It’s not fair to the rest.

This isn’t to say it can’t be done. There are plenty of great coaches who coach at the high school before, and after, their young athlete attends the school.

Most of the time though, in my opinion, a parent can never look past one thing — his or her own child. He or she can’t see the big picture because he or she is focused on his or her own child and his or her well-being.

This is not a bad thing, of course, but when it comes to team sports, it can be disruptive. Parents will always, no matter how hard they try, or how much they try to ignore it, have an agenda for their offspring.

On the other side, will I be the parent who helps the program out whenever needed? Run a hospitality room without the first thought of being thanked? Keep the book, drive other parents’ kids to practice, find time to wash the team’s uniforms, or film a game?

Will I make sure if the coach tells A.J. something, he had better do it, or there will be hell to pay not only at practice, but at home?

Will I keep in mind A.J. is a young man, and he’s going to make mistakes, and I shouldn’t take him away from the team just because I feel he needs to be punished when in fact that will only hurt the team?

Now, as a first-time parent-to-be, all of the above thoughts have come crashing down on my head like a ton of bricks, because I now have to look at it from a different perspective and assume my feelings, or opinions, may change one day.

Parents can be your greatest asset as a coach. They can also be your greatest enemy. What type of parent will I be?{jcomments on}

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  • Marianne

    An excellent article -- and he is right about the challengs of a parent coaching their own. By the high school level, it is not a great idea if it can be avoided. It doesn't put pressure on only the coach -- it makes it tough for the son or daughter, too.

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