Training your child can be a memorable experience, but it also has its challenges

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Brunswick field hockey coach Carrie Sullivan, center, recently poses with daughters Kelsey and Ellie. Photo provided by Carrie Sullivan

Carrie Sullivan has coached her daughters in various sports for as long as she can remember.

Prior to becoming a Brunswick field hockey coach in 2018, Sullivan remembers asking his daughters, Kelsey and Ellie, what they thought of his high school coaching.

“I asked them what they thought about it and if they were okay with it,” Sullivan said. “It’s different when your mom coaches your teammates and friends, but they took it without hesitation.”

Kelsey Sullivan added, “It’s so nice to have someone to talk to after games and practice who really understands the game. It’s also great because we both have the same thought process and the same competitive mindset.

The Sullivans aren’t the only ones when it comes to parents coaching their kids on high school athletic teams in the Midcoast.

Many of these caches say the experience is very rewarding, but it presents some challenges, including avoiding showing favoritism.

“You have to be a little careful how you go about it,” said Brunswick women’s soccer head coach Martyn Davison, who coaches her older daughter Emily. “You try to stay aware of it, but I’ve never had a problem with it. “

F addedBoys soccer coach Bob Strong, who coaches his senior son Bobby, reports: “I’m very sensitive to the perception of favoritism, especially when it comes to playing time. The times I felt it most difficult were when he was on the verge of being a contributor. At that time, I tended to shield myself from conservatism and not play it as much as he maybe deserved. UThere is no doubt that the biggest advantage of my son’s training is to enjoy the privileged moments that he shares daily with his teammates. The players create unforgettable memories over a three month season, I enjoy every minute with a front row seat in their experiences.

Emily Davison, left, recently poses with her father Martyn Davison. Emily is a senior on the Brunswick High women’s soccer team, which Martyn coaches. Photo provided by Martyn Davison

Coaches also say they are trying to find that balance between parent-child and coach-player. Coach Sullivan, for example, has said she needs to separate her mother-daughter relationships with her daughters once they’re on a sports field.

“I don’t think about it very often, but it rarely comes back,” she said. “I take that into consideration and try to keep it apart until we get home and dissect the game.”

Many athletes say that playing for a parent at a high level is a once in a lifetime experience.

“It can be difficult at times to take constructive criticism,” said Emily Davison, who is a key contributor to the Brunswick women’s soccer team. “But I respect what he says and try to implement his advice.”

The Sullivan sisters, Kelsey and Ellie, agreed.

“The benefits of having him as a coach outweigh the challenges, which aren’t many,” said Ellie Sullivan, a junior. “I grew up with her coaching style all my life and became the player I am today because of her. I appreciate her competitiveness and love of the game, and I have very similar ideas to her about how we play and how we can improve as a team.

Carrie Sullivan said coaching her daughters also helps bring the family closer together.

“One thing is to have this unique moment in their life to be with them,” she said. “There aren’t many mothers as much as I am in the lives of their teenage daughters. Another piece that I love is getting to know their friends on this level. There have been so many teammates that I have watched grow up and I love having that extra layer of relationship with them.

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