Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bullying at The Rink

While it may seem like a miracle that the Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series, it’s easy to forget – that was predicted years ago.
   Not by Nostradamus, but in Back to the Future II.
   In Marty McFly’s alternate universe, 2015 gives us things like the championship Cubs, self-lacing sneakers, and everybody’s favorite blockheaded bully, Biff Tannen.
  Our actual 2016 now has two-outta-three (which we all know ain’t bad), but when it comes to actual bullies, kids don’t have the luxury of hoverboards or time travelling DeLorean’s. So what do you do when your child encounters bullying at the rink, or in the locker room?
   You need to create an environment that makes it difficult for such practices to survive. For Westchester County Physical Education Teacher and Youth Hockey Coach Stacey Wierhl that means setting clear standards and expectations for the team that promotes the team first. “The coach is responsible for creating a team atmosphere that is about caring for one another. When each player thinks of their teammates first, the coach has done a great job to combat any potential bullying,” says Wierhl.  

     Supervision is key.  “The coach needs to be vigilant before and after games and practices. Coaches need to be aware of what kids are saying in lines and on the bench,"  Wierhl adds. “Coaches most certainly need to be present and involved whenever the team is together.”
   Wierhl also advises coaches to be that someone that every player feels comfortable approaching. “If a player hears or witnesses something that made them uncomfortable, the player must have a sense of trust and comfort in the coach to be able to openly share his or her concerns.”

    Bullying in athletics is real, and occurs across all general lines, at all levels. And when addressed, it can quickly cause its victims to loathe not just the harassment, but the sport itself.
    If you, your coaches, and other team members have empowered kids, then it’s easy for them to apply some of Biff Tannen’s own wisdom to bullying – tell it to make like a tree, and get out of here.

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