When it comes to sports, people first think that athletes want separation from their families and only be around their teammates and coaches. Well that is complete bogus because the idea of having their families involved brings them a feeling that they are being supported away from home.
The idea of the athlete’s family providing support is a huge benefit for the athletes to continue playing that particular sport that was a key aspect of their life. This could include coming to their games, talking to their coaches after the games to say thank you for having their child on the team, being introduced to the rest of the team and many more pivotal aspects on how these families are supportive.
Field Hockey and Women’s Lacrosse Team
Jackie Neary, women’s field hockey and women’s lacrosse coach, gave her insight on how she views family involvement with the teams that she coaches.
Neary relies on her players to be independent. However she has made connections with her player’s families throughout the recruitment process. Her view is that the players should come to her with questions or concerns, but not to have their parents email Neary about their issues.
Neary considers her college athletes as adults, which is different from what a high school coach might view their athletes.
“When you are on a team of mine, you are considered family,” Neary said.
This is relevant because Neary talks with the family members to see how their daughter is during on and off the field.
There is an event for each sport called “Family Day.” It usually happens early in the season to get the players and their parents more familiar with one another.
Another event is solely with the lacrosse team. This usually happens after their first scrimmage in the winter. The event is for alumni, parents and friends of the program to mingle and get to know one another better.
Shannon Agnew, junior early education and special education major, has provided her thoughts around “Family Day.” She is in complete agreement with Neary that the event is a great way for everyone to mingle.
“Everyone is in a good mood and usually plays really well that day,” Agnew said. “Family Day always has a good turn out and we always enjoy it!”
Noelia Ramirez, senior criminology major, was pleased to give her thoughts on the “Family Day” event. She plays goalie on both of Neary’s teams.
She personally finds it a great way for her family to connect / meet her coaches and players. Ramirez loves that they enjoy a great meal, while also bonding with each other.
“It is also helpful especially if we lose the game,” Ramirez said. “It is like an immediate de-stressor knowing we are about to sit down and have a better day with our families.”
Women’s basketball team
Kate Pearson, head coach of the women’s basketball and assistant director of athletics, encourages the families of her athletes to support the program in anyway that they can. This depends on the familiarity, availability and proximity to campus as their level of involvement with the team. This gives the families an equal opportunity to help out.
Pearson attempts to create a family atmosphere by inviting the team’s families to events called “Tailgates.” They start every season with a “tip-off dinner” for each family to get more familiar with one another.
Fundraising is one area that helps the women’s basketball team to bond more with each other.
“During the winter break, we have the player’s families provide meals because the cafeteria is closed,“ Pearson said. “This helps students out by getting a ‘home-cooked’ meal, that it’s always accessible for them.”
Cassidy Gallagher, senior psychology major and one of the captains, provided her thoughts on the involvement of the women’s basketball team families.
During Gallagher’s four years being with the women’s basketball team, she has found the “tip-off” dinner as a perfect way to start off the season. The dinner provides the team with a way to learn new aspects of the players. Returning players are able to meet new players families.
These events provide the families of the athletes, to experience what and who the women’s basketball program is all about. Fundraising is important to help the athletes get a full college experience with the travel to farther away activities.
“Basketball season is time consuming and very busy,” Gallagher said. “So spending extra time with family after the game at the tailgate is special and much needed.”
Meghan Matthews, senior business management major and other captain, provided her thoughts on the involvement of families with the team.
Matthews finds the events that parents help run, as a way to learn more about her new teammates. This creates a bond that will last for their entire life.
The “tip-off” dinner event also provides them to bond further with the player’s families.
”It is my favorite thing about our preseason basketball,” Matthews said. “It gets me excited to see these people cheering for us during the season.”
Men’s Baseball team
Nick Weisheipl, men’s baseball coach and assistant strength and conditioning coach, shared his thoughts on family involvement.
Weisheipl’s view on family involvement is a very key aspect of Division III athletics. Parents always want to be involved, but don’t know how to help out.
“I love having families involved with my teams,” Weisheipl said.
The baseball team does have parents help run the snack stand during their games. The “lead-off” banquet is the team’s main way parents help with the team.
Brandon Van Belle, junior, who plays catcher on the team, provided his remarks of the parents involved with the baseball program.
In Van Belle’s opinion, the program wouldn’t be where it is without the involvement from the parents. Some areas that he went into that they help out with are bringing the team food post-game, having gatherings for the other families after games or making our “lead-off” banquet go as smoothly as it does.
“Our parents are a critical part of our team,” Van Belle said.
JD Barrett, junior business management major, had similar comments as Van Belle with the involvement of the parents within the baseball team.
“Parents always supporting us means everything to us and the program,” Barrett said.
Shaun Stackhouse, senior secondary education major with a concentration in mathematics, has given his thoughts on the level of involvement from the parents of the athletes on the baseball team.
Stackhouse views the parents as an integral part of the baseball team for all the help they provide to make the program run as smoothly as it does. He likes how there is always a supportive crowd at their games.
Stackhouse echoes what coach Weisheipl said about being in favor of having the parents involved with the program.
According to Stackhouse, the “lead-off” banquet is organized and runs smoothly every year by the efforts of parents. This includes setting up donations, venues and prizes for people to win when they come.
“It is awesome as a player to see parents of teammates often and build relationships and bonds with them as well as your teammates,” Stackhouse said. “In essence we build a community by parent involvement and grow as one big family.”