Last spring, Project Play WNY hosted a series of webinars to stay connected to the youth sports community during a time of uncertainty. In early 2021, the webinar series relaunched as more parts in the region began reopening.
The first webinar, Youth Sports in a Pandemic: Best Practices for Parents, featured a panel of local professionals in the youth sports realm. To start the discussion, Dr. Les Bisson, MD Professor and Chair of the Orthopaedics Surgery at the University at Buffalo, and Kellie Pieper, Assistant AD for Student-Athlete Wellness, discussed how parents could best support their children’s physical and emotional needs. Project Play WNY and Dr. Bission partnered to create injury prevention warm-up decks to keep their athletes physically healthy. For more information on the cards, email email@example.com. Dr. Robert Zayas, Executive Director of New York State Public High School Athletic Association, and Chris Price from Life Sports Solutions, spoke about reopening sports at the scholastic and club levels. Although there has been a push to reopen all sports, it is important to note that national trends show a steady decline in participation due to the pandemic. To close out the discussion, two local parents who live in bordering cities spoke about their different experiences and how they have tried to keep their kids positive and engaged while their sports were canceled.
The second webinar, Trauma-Informed Care and Coaching, was led by mental health professionals, who discussed what they see in youth due to the pandemic and the closure of sports. One common theme was identifying a space where the young athletes can express their emotions. Sports is an outlet for many youth and without the ability to be active or participate at the level they are used to, there has been a sense of loss and anxiety. Training coaches in trauma-informed care will start to change the stigma around mental health and how trauma can be treated through sports, especially once all sports resume competition.
The latest webinar, How to Coach Your Own Kid, featured coaches ranging from those with professional athlete experience to first-time coaches. One key takeaway from the entire group focused on making the sport enjoyable for the children and putting the coach’s competitiveness aside. As a coach, balancing the role of parent and coach can be challenging, so leaving what happens at practice on the “court” is essential. It is also important to create an inclusive environment, so more parents feel empowered to become coaches and participate. This will lead to the culture change the Project Play WNY Coaches Training Working Group has been diligently working on the past three years.
Be sure to check out all of the webinars on our YouTube channel or our website. If there are any topics you would like to see discussed, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow @projectplaywny on Twitter and Instagram to hear about our next webinar series.