Hulne: Youth coaches are vital to varsity success

Published 10:33 am Friday, November 3, 2023

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In today’s world, we often fall into the trap of wanting instant results. 

The same tendencies often apply to sports. As a Green Bay Packers fan, I can certainly admit that I have sometimes lost my patience as my team is struggling with the youngest roster in the league this season.

But sometimes in life, and in sports, we must be patient and trust the process. That process begins with having quality youth coaches and I wanted to use this space to thank one of those coaches.

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Austin eighth grade football coach Justin Heskett did a tremendous job this past fall and it went well beyond the young Packers winning some games. Heskett managed to make his team work hard and hold his players accountable, while also making it a fun place to be.

Heskett was a varsity assistant coach for the Packers in the past, but he made a noble decision by taking over the middle school program, where he can have a lasting impact on the football program in its entirety. 

It takes coaches like Heskett, who are willing to work with young and inexperienced players that build the foundation of a solid program and I commend him, and all of his assistants, for the work they put in this past season.

While middle school and youth coaches often work behind the scenes, they are equally as important to the success of the varsity teams. If a gifted athlete shows up to the high school team without any knowledge of the game or fundamental skills, they are still going to struggle to keep up. That makes it imperative to have a coach who not only develops the skilled players, but also makes sure that no player gets left behind.

The more players that stick with a sport, the better off it will be in the long run and leaving kids on the bench at youth levels can often lead to reduced numbers when the team is at higher levels.

Granted, not every kid is meant to be a superstar athlete, but everyone should have a role, whether it involves doing the unappreciated dirty work, or being a strong supporter from the sideline. Sometimes involving every kid can reduce a team’s win total, but honestly, what adult can recite the exact record of their youth teams?

Wins matter, but at the younger level, it is development that matters most.

The job of being a youth coach is never easy, but if the job is done right, they may very well see the team they mentored enjoying big time success at the varsity level in the future.