Posted 10/01/2018 2:14:13 PM by Vanessa Smit

Robin Foss is one of many amazing volunteer basketball coaches with the YMCA Steve Nash Youth Basketball League. As a second generation volunteer coach, she has wise words to share with future coaches:

To the next generation of coaches…

My name is Robin Foss. I’m a second-generation volunteer coach. My father coached me in all sports. He even coached me as a young athlete in a YMCA Basketball League back in 1987. He was also a coach for the Langley softball, volleyball, basketball and soccer school teams. My father continued to be a huge part of Langley Rugby Club, coached at four different high schools in Langley and won a Provincial Championship at Langley Secondary in 1994. We often have discussions about why we coach. Why we use free time that could be spent doing other things. My mother doesn't understand it. My friends who have kids don't understand it. Some parents of the players I coach say that I have a lot of patience and don’t think they could do it.   

As for me, I am just getting started. For the last 10 years, I’ve been working to become a secondary school coach, looking for a mentor and looking to start forming a team I can help build. Two years ago, I took the initiative to email a basketball club to volunteer my time, but really it was to help me with my coaching skills. I've coached everything from parent and tot soccer to t-ball, Special Olympics soccer, softball, and basketball for all ages (2 to 100 years). What I’ve learned is that coaching is a skill in itself. I didn't wake-up one day and say I'm going to coach grade 6 & 7 basketball at the YMCA. I watched my dad and others. I watched how they interacted with the parents, the players and the officials at games. Being the type of coach that is respectful of everyone involved in the larger picture I learned a lot. For example, the skills or sport itself is only one aspect of organizing a team. Teaching every player that they matter and instilling confidence in them so that they know how to play is vital. My father taught me that everyone matters. He taught me to be respectful of everyone including the athletes, the parent drivers and the officials. He taught me to utilize teams’ strengths and to always be prepared to change up practices. What you as a coach want out of your team for that season may not always be realistic. Building self-esteem and learning to work together is the first thing I think of at my first practice. It helps me put things into perspective. All players have their strengths and weaknesses. In more cases than not, many players don't think they are any good at the sport and think the coach will teach them how to play better. One day a grade six player asked me when we were going to learn how to dunk. It threw me back, I didn't want to laugh. This player was serious and keen. In his short athletic life, he watched NBA basketball players dunk the ball and thought that was part of how the game was "supposed" to be played. From that day on I started to ask my players what they want to learn and now with a generation on YouTube, I ask them to bring their tricks and skills to teach the team. I'm not the one on the court playing. They are. If they’re not enjoying it or having a positive experience then why am I coaching? 

When I played on a team, I was not the best player or the fastest. But, I was loyal and respectful to everyone. As an athlete, I had a good attitude and would like to instill that in my players. In the digital world we are living in I challenge everyone with this question; why don’t we have more coaches that help kids get active when we are trying to tell them to get out from behind the screen? Seeing their skills grow is rewarding and enjoyable for so many reasons. I challenge us further to think about finding more gym time, to further develop active adults and to work as a community. As my father taught me, everyone matters. So, for any potential coaches out there, go out and play together.

Robin Foss 
YMCA SNYB Volunteer Coach

Through the dedication, commitment and enthusaism of our volunteers we are able to create more opportunities for children and youth to access YMCA sports programming. And we're always looking for more coaches to help us create more opportunities for the young people in our community.

Feel like joining our team of amazing volunteers? Visit our website for more information on volunteering at the YMCA, or becoming a volunteer coach or assistant coach in one of our Sports Leagues. 


Vanessa Smit

About Vanessa Smit

Vanessa is passionate about anything community and social responsibility related. Don’t be surprised if you find her playing in the sunshine or watching an NBA game. Vanessa is a Marketing and Communications, Manager at the YMCA of Greater Vancouver.

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