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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Teaching Our Kids Commitment

Our oldest son plays sports.  Seriously.  Competitively.  Unfortunately, his coaches are less than committed, and I’m finding it difficult to explain their character flaws, or their inability to plan a schedule and stick to it.

No matter what Petya signs up for, the coaches drop the ball.  It may be Early Morning This or That, After School Something Else, Another Deal Designed for Adults (whom he can usually beat at this point), or Training  Tremendous Teen Athletes.  You name it, he signs up for it (which is difficult enough on our schedule).

Then it lasts for all of two or three weeks.  Over and out.  The sports facility even prints monthly calendars where half of the classes or clinics are obsolete before the ink is dry.  Their word was no good.

“It’s a staffing problem,” the new pro confides.  “If I could only hire more staff….”

He already has three times the number of coaches that were here under others’ regimes and they did just fine.  He rarely looks up from texting when we enter the clubhouse.  Not classy, not professional.  It’s obvious that the “pros” prefer their private lessons over clinics for the masses.  Hence, they have no time, and have to cancel everything they start, urging the players to get together with them one-on-one.  I’ve watched them “coach”, and believe me, I’ve gone out many a morning with Petya and can do pretty much whatever they do.

“The round robin on Friday—,” Benedetto starts yet another inquiry.

“Well, that’s actually on Saturday mornings now…” the pro nips that in the bud.

“And the Thursday morning clinic—,” Petya tries.

“It’s been switched to Tuesdays…” which, naturally, our son cannot make.

Petya arrives 10 minutes early to an adult practice session and a different “pro” (whom Petya can easily win against) tells him to go home.

“The man in the pro shop said they already have the right number of players and that I should leave—,” Petya reports to Papa in the car.

“It’s ten minutes before you start,” Benedetto is incredulous.  “Tell the guy that I’ll wait till others arrive.”

Sure enough, five or six more players arrive in the next five minutes.  The guy was going to send the adults home, too?  Does this place want our business or not?

Apparently not.  They simply couldn’t get it together.

After asking the coaches numerous times to give us a clue about what’s really going on, we give up.  The two of us allow Petya to play in some tournaments at the usual facility, but in general, we move him to the hottest sports club.  It was only because our family was out and about one afternoon that we heard this tip from another dad.

I was leaving the original sports facility with Petya when the friend’s dad stopped me, asking if Petya could play with his son for awhile.  I had just put him through his paces and he was exhausted, but he grew excited about the opportunity to play with another teen. As we watched them for a few minutes, I commented to the father that his son had improved since I saw him play last.

“We have him training with a couple of top, international pros, three nights a week, three hours at a stretch,” he let me know, giving the name of the country club.  “We’re members, but see what kind of price they can give you.  They want the teens there every night of the week, although you don’t have to.  Plus, my son has to do homework occasionally.”

I mentally calculated his “reduced-rate” training, and it still added up to a small weekly fortune, with or without club membership.  I was not harboring any thoughts that our son might be the next international teen pro… was this level of training really necessary?

Benedetto headed over the next week to check it out.  Great guys from another country, ranked in the single digits in their heydey.  They liked international kids and had several who had moved here from other continents to train with them.  They asked about which passports Petya held, and had seen him play at their club before, definitely wanting him in their program.

We agreed to a couple of intensive days a week and they cut us a deal.  Petya was over the moon, he finally had some enthusiastic coaches who immediately started tweaking his game.  Seventh heaven.

By our son’s second time there, the pros had quit and took most of the players with them.  The other coaches, who were also highly ranked, but not the upper-crust echelon of the sport, were their employers and none too pleased.  Not to mention that they had obtained the work visas for the pros, who would soon be working illegally in the United States.

Didn’t bother Petya in the least when we asked his opinion.

“They did the wrong thing, trying to start their own coaching business by stealing away this club’s players.  I want to stay,” he said, actually commenting that he received better coaching from these pros.

We completely concurred, and so he stayed, got lots of personal attention, coaching and extremely sore muscles, while his game skyrocketed.  He improved more in the first week than in the last  year.   Some of the other players started trickling back.

And he learned first-hand that character affects commitment.  It was a decision, and he had chosen well.



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