What to Say When Your Kid’s Team Loses The Game

It can be hard to find the right words to say when your child looks up at you with those big, disappointed eyes after losing the game. You might not be the coach of the team but as his parent, you are coaching your child through life, and what you say matters.

There’s nothing quite like the pride you feel as you sit in the bleachers, watching one of the people you love most in the world take the winning shot. As the crowd around you cheers, and the rest of the team congratulate your child, your heart is fit to burst. But what about the days when your child’s team don’t get to take the trophy home?

Not all sports games end in glory, and you may find yourself searching for the right words to say to your disappointed child after a losing game. It might not surprise you to hear that what you say is really important. Your child looks up to you, and, even though he may not always act like it, your opinion really matters to him. And what you say after a losing game, is at least as important as what you say after a winning game, maybe even more so.

So if you need some ideas on how to help your child cope with the disappointment that comes with losing, here are some angles you could try:

1.  Great game!
Ok, they didn’t win, but that’s not all that’s important. Sports are about health, fitness, confidence building, teamwork, and a zillion other life skills that your kid is benefiting from thanks to this love of sports. He might not have won, but hopefully he still enjoyed the chance to play. As the parent, it’s your job to make sure your kid knows you love watching him play whether he wins or loses.

2.  I saw you…
Your child might not be polishing the trophy right now, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t play a good game. Think about the things you usually congratulate him on – the difficult tackles, the excellent teamwork, and the way he holds himself on the pitch – and talk about those. Sports really isn’t all about winning, and how he plays in a game is just as important as the final score.

3.  Good effort!
This is a phrase that is useful during winning games too. Instead of focusing on the final result, your praise should focus on the effort that went into the game. It doesn’t matter whether his team won or lost, what matters is that he tried his best, so make sure that is what you focus on when you congratulate him for the game. This is a useful phrase to use at other times too, because it will reinforce the belief that the outcome isn’t the most important thing, it’s the effort that really counts.

4.  You seem disappointed
This is an important point. It’s ok to feel disappointed. It’s ok to feel frustrated and angry, too. Your child can’t help how he feels. Try not to dismiss his feelings by telling him to suck it up, or that he’s not showing very good sportsmanship. Instead, talk about how he is feeling. If he tells you he’s annoyed, paraphrase it back to him. This technique helps him feel heard, and is an important tool in helping him manage his emotions.

5.  Let’s go and…
Whatever it is you usually do after a winning game – grab lunch at a pancake house, head out for ice-cream, or just veg in front of a movie – do it. Keeping your after game routine the same can help to reinforce the belief that it doesn’t matter if you win or lose. After a few hours of quality time with you, your kid will probably be feeling much better. If you only take your kid for pancakes after a winning game, it will reinforce the idea that losing is rubbish, and may even leave him questioning whether he is being punished for losing.

Six Reasons You Should Be Encouraging Your Child To Play Sports

Young football players

Sports are great for fitness, social skills, psychological development and important life skills. In fact, there are a whole host of reasons why playing sports is great for your child, and it was pretty tough to whittle the list down to just six.

Some parents worry about the risks involved in sports. While it’s true that your child is likely to suffer a few bumps and bruises, very serious injuries are a little more rare. There are numerous benefits to playing sports, especially for children who are growing, developing, and learning on so many levels. Here are six important reasons why you should be encouraging your child to play sports:

1.  It’s important for fitness
Children should do at least an hour of moderate exercise every day. This could be running around after a football, taking a dip at the local pool, or cycling home from school. It’s easy for most kids to manage an hour of physical activity when the weather is nice, but you may a harder time convincing them to leave the sofa when it’s cold outside. Team sports offer a number of incentives – including the social circle and friendships that might just be enough to lure your child out for a run in the winter months.

2.  It’s fun
Aside from all the health benefits, the main reason most people play sports is because it’s fun. Playing sports is a great way to spend your free time. Whether you love running, climbing, team sports or something else, sports are a great way to pass the time.

3.  They’ll meet friends
One of the great things about sports clubs is that there are a whole new group of kids to play with. Your child will meet new people, develop friendships and relationships, and develop his social skills. These will be friends your child sees every week, who he learns to trust on the field, as well as after practice. A lot of people make very close friends through playing sports, and many of these friendships last a lifetime.

4.  It’s good for self esteem
Self esteem plays an important role in happiness, and all parents want to ensure their children develop strong self esteem that will see them through life. Research has identified that playing sports can help children develop self esteem. Team sports aren’t the only sports that boost confidence and esteem, individual sports have actually proven to build an even higher level of self esteem.

5.  It’s important for body image
Research has found that playing sports regularly (at least once a week), can help young people develop a positive body image. Playing sports forces people to put their bodies to the test. Once you have seen how fast your strong legs can run, or how accurately your arms can throw, you are more likely to feel a sense of admiration for your body.

6.  It reduces the risk of illicit risky behaviors
A number of studies have found that young people who regularly engage in sport or physical activity are less likely to engage in risky behavior outside of the sportshall. For teenagers, this means drinking, smoking and drugs. Some experts believe this is because people who play sports are able to take risks on the field, allowing them to enjoy that adrenalin rush in a safe environment. For young people who don’t play sports, these illicit behaviors may simply be a way of taking risks.

Jones-Palm, D (2005) Physical Activity and Its Impact On Health Behavior Among Youth published by the World Health Organization https://www.icsspe.org/sites/default/files/PhysicalActivity.pdf

Omarsson, B (2013) Effects of sport participation on adolescent self-esteem and body-image: differences in gender and types of sport explored http://skemman.is/stream/get/1946/16684/37828/1/BS-Ritger%C3%B0-Birgir_P%C3%A1ll.pdf

My Father The Hero

My Dad is Superman. No, he’s bigger and badder than Superman. He’s a metamorphosis of all of the superheroes. I can’t remember ever needing him and not overtly receiving his helping hand. Once, I needed to design a car for the Boy Scouts Pinewood Derby. Pops was there (I won by the way….hard to compete with a scaled down model of a Ferrari). I had a difficult time as a young boy keeping my fluids inside me while sleeping. This is no lie. Guess who was there to move me to the dry side so he would be the one wading his way through the night on the wet side. Yup, Pops did that. I wanted to attend UNC, Chapel Hill. Someone special to me placed a call to my high school to let me know my dream had come true. Yup, it was Pops. I wanted to see the world after college. Having not a penny to my name I needed someone to make it happen. Pops was there. He has been there every time. He’s my hero.

My Dad flew the F-4 Phantom in Vietnam. My Dad is a fighter pilot! He completed over 120 missions!! What was asked of him, he did. He saluted when appropriate and played cards with the boys below deck when he could. He had a mustache. He always flew with a stuffed animal of Snoopy. Oh, and a cigarette. Times have changed.

I remember every detail of my Dad’s pictures from Vietnam because I used to spend hours at my grandmother’s (Nanny) house staring and analyzing his pictures. This can’t be him speeding by a Russian aircraft!? Yup, that was my Dad. I stared and stared and stared. Ultimately, the time travel would be interrupted by Nanny with her inevitable offering of flat soda and olive loaf. If he isn’t a hero for flying the Phantom, surviving his mom’s food has to meet the criteria.

I wanted to be my Dad. I wanted to do everything he did. I wanted to visit everywhere he did. My Dad had an Airedale terrier as a kid. I have an Airedale terrier. My Dad was in the Navy. I went as far as the Congressional Nomination stage of entering Annapolis. Ultimately I decided to go somewhere else, UNC, Chapel Hill. Oh, I forgot to mention. That’s my father’s alma mater.

IMG_0053 2

He’s everything I ever wanted to be. As the Foo Fighter’s song says, ‘There goes my hero…..’He’s ORDINARY!’ Yes, absolutely. My dad isn’t a Wall Street tycoon. My dad didn’t rake in millions running a prestigious law firm. Nope, none of that. My Dad owns a car repair shop in a town of less than 5,000 residents. He works 6 days a week 10 hours a day.

His customers respect his integrity almost as much as I do. Every morning Pops would have keys under floor mats and blank checks waiting for him at work. A mechanic with ‘free reign’ would be a scary thought for most. Not my Dad’s customers. I’ve seen them return later to pick up their car and watch as my Dad hands the check back because no repairs were necessary. The customer would insist reaching into his wallet for a token of appreciation, but my Dad never accepted. He was presidential. He and his ilk should be whom we read about on the front page of the paper. He’s a man that looks another man right between the eyes. He’s a man that walks the walk of honor. He’s the man I can only pretend to be, but aim to impersonate in some fashion. I hope to represent his name well. He’s earned that.

I never saw Pops in the morning, and I waited on pins and needles (unless I was in trouble of course) for the sound of the garage door when he returned. I was like a puppy waiting for his owner. Pops is home! He’d stroll in with black fingernails and a look of utter fatigue. As he would always say…’Can everyone give me a minute…I’ve been on my feet all day!” So he read Newsday and ate his chips, or peanuts, or fritos, or whatever permutation of all of the above. That apparently was like a good meal to a sled dog because he would come back rejuvenated. When I heard the bag crinkle to close, I knew it was ‘make my Dad so tired he can’t see straight’ time. And he would oblige.

We played basketball in my room. My mom would plead for us not to because of all of the holes we put in the wall from crashing into it chasing after a loose ball. We boxed. He would use the lefty glove, me the righty. We played baseball in the family room with a mini-bat and a nerf ball. On the days I really wanted to torture him we’d go outside and play basketball in the driveway, or play a couple of holes on the makeshift golf course I designed in the backyard. My Dad didn’t care much for possessions. His khakis that he wore every day are proof of that. What he cared about and cherished above all however, was his lawn. He would talk to it like a grass whisperer. And here I am, a less than mediocre golfer hacking up his ‘baby.’ It hurt, it hurt deep down in his soul. But knowing he’s a conduit to my happiness, he let me play. He looked like Eeyore; depressed about his lawn, but still out there hanging with me.

The stories are endless. I have so many because I think about them like I analyzed his pictures at my grandparents’ house. I cherish them as I do him. We’d never let on of course. We were ‘men’. He would tuck my sisters and me in every night.   He would always tell my sisters he loves them. Not me, we’d do our handshake routine and give a nod. It meant the same thing.

My Dad found out recently that he has stage 4 prostate cancer. Yes, MY dad. MY HERO HAS CANCER! He’s tough. He’s the adult. He’s the one that has to be ‘strong’. He’s the foreman of the house and must come off as robust and authoritative. But I have seen and heard tears welling up in his hawk like eyes lately. He’s scared. We all are. It has spread throughout his bones, and even reached his scapula. But guess where he was when he told me the diagnosis. He was at work! Yes, I know that Mr. Smith’s oil has to be changed because he’s going to visit his son at college. And I know the van in front needs an alignment for the business owner to put it back on the road. But Dad, you learned that your body is destroying itself not but an hour ago. So what!? That didn’t stop him. The doctor didn’t present him with Kryptonite, so he was back at work at 68 years of age and full of cancer. You know what, the Foo Fighters got it wrong. He’s NOT ordinary!

I’m much better at writing my words than speaking them. So if I only get one view of this post, I hope it’s the one it’s meant for.


Right Between The Eyes….

Graham Nash said it best in his lyric, ‘A man’s a man who looks another man right between the eyes!’ It’s a simple gesture; looking in one’s eyes while shaking hands. Simple, yet profound.


Every Monday at Future Stars, Southampton, we begin a new session. With the advent of a new week, a whole new group of campers arrive eager, yet nervous about the unknown people and surroundings. It can be unnerving, and understandably so. In fact, many of the younger campers are so reticent that they feel compelled to beg their parents to stay with them.

After years of experience running camps, I assure the parents that all will be okay and that their children will acclimate quickly. I describe that the ‘band-aid’ approach is the most effective. This method consists of walking away from your child, despite the tears and screaming. It’s difficult, but experience has taught me that the short-term pain will quickly dissipate and the child will find his/her niche.

It’s not as sylogistic as described above however. It involves a systematic and delicate introduction into the camp dynamic. The counselors are fully aware of the new campers, and go out of their way to assuage their apprehension. Additionally, the culture we have created here promotes and rewards the more veteran campers when they make an effort to play and interact with the new campers. This helps.

What we find to be most effective, however, is the introduction ritual we carry out every Monday morning. The director of the camp, Shane Flanagan, prompts the campers with open-ended questions related to the proper way of presenting yourself to someone who you have never met. A group discussion ensues and finally one of the campers volunteers to model the proper way of shaking someone’s hand, introducing yourself, stating ‘nice to meet you,’ and most importantly, making direct and concerted eye contact. We stress eye contact. Proper eye contact informs the person you’re meeting that you are conscious of this introduction, and it is important to you. Without words, much is spoken through the eyes.

Following the demonstration, the campers are instructed to stand up and introduce themselves to three people that they have yet to meet. The campers approach each other, extend their hands, shake firmly, state their names, express that it’s nice to meet them, and lastly, make eye contact. The eye contact lets each camper sense an innate connection. Acceptance to the group is conveyed. Anxiety dissipates.

This process is critical to the relaxed and accepting environment we have at camp. The act of looking another in the eyes is simple in its execution, yet profound in its interpretation. It denotes that I’m here with you, for you, and we are connected. The eyes are the prism to one’s essence, and it communicates to each other that we are on the same level. Graham Nash’s lyric, A man’s a man who looks another man right between the eyes, breaks down all greeting rituals to the one that connects us most. Our campers feel that connection on a daily basis by performing this simple act. We should all keep that in mind the next time we interact with someone, it goes a long way in enhancing our connectedness. Plus, it’s simply polite.

Anticipation Paired With Expectation

We’re thrilled to announce that June is here! The thought of a new summer conjures up images of sun-splashed days and ice-cream truck chasing. Whatever your association is with summer, and we all have them, we at Future Stars always couple our anticipation of the summer solstice with spending quality time with our campers. What makes our company unique, however, is that our anticipation comes with clear expectations.

Here is a list of our expectations for our campers’ experiences for summer 2014:

Our campers will be active for hours each day;

Our campers will create new friendships and solidify old ones;

Our campers will talk endlessly about how much fun his/her counselor is;

Our campers will finally fall asleep at their bedtime (goes back to the active expectation);

Our campers will look up to their counselors as role-models;

Our campers will learn and enhance their fundamentals in a particular sport;

Our campers will learn what it means to look people in the eye when speaking;

Our campers will learn what it means to win with grace and lose with dignity;

Our campers will gain valuable experiences that will help build and maintain their self-confidence;

Our campers will improve their coordination and balance through age-appropriate drills;

Our campers will learn what it means to be a true team player;

Our campers will be taught how to push themselves to be better people;

Our campers will observe the proper way of treating others;

Our campers will treat others well and with respect;

Our campers will swim;

Our campers will run;

Our campers will smile;

Our campers will sweat;

Our campers will have a blast!

My expectation for this summer: Continue my passion to educate the youth of America on how to grow as people through the blessing of athletic competition. The anticipation is killing me!


Friends And Family

What is ‘it’ all about?  What defines us?  What’s the point of ‘this’?

I humbly admit that I cannot speak with certainty about any of the above.  That never stopped me from giving it a shot though.

Below is a picture of my dog Dean.  He’s my buddy.  He waits for me to get home and hates when I leave.  I’ve spoken a million words to him.  In fact, I’ve had entire monologues with him, and despite that obvious breach from reality, he still loves me unconditionally.  More than anything, I can DEPEND on him.  I can count on him to wag his tail after a hard day.  I can give him a look, and he’s ready to run, walk, go to bed, etc.  He’s there for me.


He’s there for me.  Re-read that.  Wow.  Powerful, no?

Now, if all I had was Dean I’d be a lucky man.  Well, I guess I should count my lucky stars because I ALSO have the best friends and family a guy can ask for.  First and foremost, my dad is my hero.  My sisters guide and inspire.  My mom showed me what it meant to sacrifice.  My friends have seen me at my worst, although many would say that’s actually when I’m at my ‘best,’ and have seen me in indescribable bliss.  The common denominator: I can DEPEND on them all.

These influences in my life have taught me one, undeniable, unconditional truth.  There is nothing in this world like KNOWING that you have someone you can count on.  Someone that wants to know how your day went, even though that same person lost their job and is battling the flu that same day.  Someone that says if you fall down thirty times, I’ll be there each time just so I can cherish that thirty first time when  you are able to hold yourself up.  That’s unconditional love.

Dean has no idea how to define unconditional love.  He can’t articulate how it manifests itself or why many seek it earnestly.  He just knows how to give it.  It’s natural.  A true friend, a true brother, sister, father, grandmother, etc. just knows how to give it.  It’s organic.

As I progress as a teacher, coach, and camp director, I have learned that each student, camper, and team member will bring a different story with him or her.  Each story is long, complicated, and ever changing.  These stories have created a ‘product.’  By no means is it a finished product! There are many more chapters to write in said stories.  My job is to promote an environment that screams to the people I am entrusted to look after that they can DEPEND on me.  I may push them.  I may disagree with their choices.    In fact, I may grow frustrated with their behavior.  But, like Dean, my friends and my family have done for me, I feel it is my responsibility to make it known that I’m there for them.  It’s a responsibility I welcome.

At Future Stars, we are lucky to have counselors that are natural friends.  They bring an innate love for children, and an inherent disposition to create a trusting and loving environment.  We have certainly had many cases where campers have made poor decisions, but instead of knocking the kid down, we teach, instruct, and inspire.  We make it known that despite the poor decision, you can DEPEND on us.

That’s so important.   As Harry Truman once stated, I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it. Guide, instruct, inspire, push, instill, promote, foster, love, support.  These are not catch phrases; these are indispensable precepts from which to guide our actions.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  It’s now time to take a walk with my buddy; he counts on me as much as I do him.


You Know You’ve Got Sporty Kids When …


Being a parent is a job that requires plenty of hard work, and that’s definitely the case if you’re raising sporty kids. Far from vegging out in front of a screen, you’ll be struggling to drag your kids home from the playing field. Here are a few ways to see whether you fit into the sporty family category (Spoiler Alert: if you’re reading this, you probably do).

All families are different, but families with sporty kids have a lot in common. Here are a few ways you know you belong to the category of parents who are raising the next generation of athletic all-stars.

You know you’ve got sporty kids when…

  1.  Your washing machine gets less sleep than you do (and that’s saying something).
  2. The sight of mud leaves you feeling happy; you’re confident that your kids had an awesome time immersing themselves on the field.
  3. You bought your car because it could fit as many of your kids’ teammates (and equipment) as possible. Your only goal was to join the carpool crew.
  4. Your car trunk always contains a (pretty impressive) first aid kit, carrier bags, wipes, and a mountain of clothes/gear.
  5.  All social and family events are planned around the team schedule.
  6. On the rare occasions you get a weekend free of games, you book a family ticket to go and watch professional games.
  7. The police would assume you had robbed a sports store if they were to stop and search your vehicle.
  8. You spend the majority of your day driving kids to and from sports games, and you love it.
  9. Somewhere in your house is a room that looks pretty similar to a sports locker room. It’s probably your living room, but it’s likely that not much “living” gets done in there.
  10. You know exactly how to eliminate the toughest grass stains and odors.
  11. You spend more time stocking and emptying your child’s equipment bag then their school book bag.
  12. All of your free time is devoted to the game, either cheering on the sidelines, playing friendly games with your kid, or following your favorite professional team in the league.
  13. Someone buys you a soccer parent bumper sticker and you proudly display it on your car.
  14. The rare occasions you leave the house without the kids, it’s usually to attend (or organize) a fundraiser so the team can buy new uniforms.
  15. You always have at least two healthy and high energy snacks for each of your sports-loving children with you and in your car. Energy bar, anyone?
  16. You have a very strict pre-game ritual that you feel brings your kids luck, though you’d never admit it to them.
  17. You get genuinely excited and passionate about every sporting event. If your kids love it, you love it.
  18. You worship the coach even more than your kids do.
  19. Birthday parties inevitably revolve around sports. And, of course, you make sure there is always a sports themed birthday cake decorated with candles for your future professional athlete.
  20. Your first aid kit contains every kind of joint support possible, and they get plenty of use.
  21. A cold compress is a permanent fixture in your fridge.

Think we missed something in our list? Let us know in the comments below.

New Baseball Camp Director

ImageWe are pleased to announce Adam Taraska as our new Future Stars Baseball Camp Director at our Purchase College location.

Adam has more than 10 years of coaching experience from the youth to college level. In addition to his current Purchase College Head Coaching role, he has given private and group lessons to players starting at age 6 for the past decade.

He currently is also a Physical Education teacher in Wilton, CT.

Prior to coaching at Purchase College, Taraska has coached at Fairfield University and Iona College during which time he has coached players that were drafted by the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres.

While coaching at Caldwell College the Cougars won the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference regular season crown and conference tournament, advancing to the DII Northeast Regional Tournament.

At the high school level, Taraska worked as the head coach at Greens Farms Academy in Westport, CT.

For the past 11 years, he has been a coach for the AAU Team Connecticut Blue Jays in which time he has led many teams to Top 10 regional and national finishes. He has coached at every level from 13U-18U.

Prior to coaching, Taraska was a decorated athlete and four-year starter at the University of Bridgeport. Captain of the Purple Knights in 2003, he earned a B.S. in Human Services.

click here to learn more about our 2014 baseball camp

Character Through Athletics

Over the last decade, reality shows have become more and more popular because of the assumed realistic drama they create.  Viewers get wrapped up into the realness of them,  and feel as if we are gaining insight into someone’s real life.  What we don’t realize is that insight is often scripted, and what we are gaining is entertainment, not a prism from which to view the human condition.

What does provide us with an opportunity to gain insight into what it means to be human is athletics.  Throughout history, athletic competition has revealed one’s character, often times for the best, but at times the worst.  By now we have all seen the clip of New York Knick Willis Reed hobbling out of the locker room before game 7 of the 1970 NBA Championship to provide his team with an inspirational lift.  His willingness to put team before himself compelled his teammates to perform at their best, and eventually win the game and the Knicks’ first NBA Championship.

There is no greater reality show than sports, because as viewers, we are able to see into one’s soul during intensely stressful and emotional moments.  How we as athletes react to these moments defines us as humans.  


Here at Future Stars, Southampton, we promote and foster an environment that stresses the importance of competition.  We stress that it’s critical to work your hardest, and strive for nothing else than victory.  Victory, however, comes in many forms.  It may not always be the result we want on the scoreboard, but a simple score is not what dictates our legacy.  Rather, it is how we react to the result that reveals our character.

We teach our campers that our reaction to winning and losing should be the exact same.  If we lose, we should work harder so that the result may change.  If we win, we should work harder so that we continue to win.  Both results compel us to work harder, which is the ultimate message we want to impart on our campers.  Strive to be your best, and be willing to work to attain that end.

After all, when it is all said and done, will we be most proud of a trophy on a mantle, or the stories created and relationships fomented in pursuit of said trophy?  Will we tell our kids that our championship ring is made of 14 karat gold, or that we made the best of friends and developed a true sense of self during those never ending practices?  Character, relationships, and the little moments define our lives, not a simple medal around our neck.  

Honor The Game

Week 3 FS 2012 240Sports and Life are connected in a sometimes complex way, and there are times in both when the chance to “bend” or “break” the rules can be tempting. It is important as coaches to teach players to Honor The Game and exhibit model behavior both on AND off the field or court.  Here at Future Stars Summer Camps we expect that our coaching staff be Positive Coaches helping to develop not only our campers sporting skills but also the value themes that are a big part of both Sports and Life.

The Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) is a national non-profit developing “Better Athletes, Better People” by working to provide all youth and high school athletes a positive, character-building youth sports experience. One Positive Coaching Script the PCA have introduced to help coaches talks about Honoring The Game and getting to the ROOTS of the matter…the acronym talks about Respect for the following;

A Positive Coach upholds the spirit, as well as the letter, of its rules.

A Positive Coach respects opponents, recognizing that a worthy opponent will push the athletes to do their best.

A Positive Coach understands the important role that officials play and shows them respect, even when s/he disagrees with their calls.

A Positive Coach encourages players to make a commitment to each other and to encourage one another on and off the field. S/he values the rich tradition of the sport and feels privileged to participate.

A Positive Coach realizes that one of the most difficult times to Honor the Game is when the opponent is not, and s/he reminds the players to live up to their own highest standard (respect for self).

Here at Future Stars Summer Camps we encourage and ask that all our coaching staff not only be Positive Coaches, but also ask questions and talk with all campers about Honoring The Game and the ROOTS acronym. Each day on camp our coaching staff aspire to not only help our campers develop their sports skills but also their life skills.