All-Star Spotlight: Playing for Coach Mom

Kyley Reed says playing for her mom went from rough at the start to rewarding at the end. "I could not have been more proud to be the coach's daughter." Courtesy of Kyley Reed

Every week in “All-Star Spotlight,” members of the ESPNHS All-Star team tackle a hot topic in high school sports. Today, Kyley Reed, a senior volleyball player at Rocky Hill (Conn.), shares the highs and lows of playing for a coach who happens to be your mom.

I won’t deny it. Running sprints for someone who just reamed you because you still haven’t cleaned your room isn’t exactly easy to swallow. But welcome to the world of parent-coaching.

When the line between parenting and coaching becomes nearly nonexistent, it is easy for tension and frustration to make their presence. Take my mom and I, for example.

In case you haven’t noticed, teenage girls find it particularly easy to argue with their moms. I am no exception.

And that is what we did -- my mom and I fought. A lot. So you can imagine that when she got a whistle in her mouth and a ball in her hand, the tension only grew thicker. And God forbid she started dancing in practice. That was usually when I made my exit.

But besides some harmless embarrassment, the tension between us was undeniable. At many practices, I made it clear that she was on my nerves. And although I wasn’t aware of this then, the problems between my mother and I had a negative effect on the whole team.

As long as the tension remained, the enjoyment decreased. It was impossible for me to have fun playing volleyball when I was always so annoyed with my mom. Additionally, it was impossible for the team to feel comfortable and grow as a unit if my mom and I were so obviously opposed to each other.

But then I realized something. I had never let school-related drama affect the way I played with my teammates, so why should I let petty drama at home affect the way I treated my mother as a coach? In the car, at home, and even in the lobby outside the gymnasium, she was my mom. But on the volleyball court, she was my coach. So I made a simple decision: I would recognize this and stick to it.

I had to swallow my pride and ignore my stubbornness and simply be another player on the team. And once I could do that, I would be able to enjoy the season, the team and the sport I loved.

And if you’re wondering how that worked out for me, it actually went quite well. We ended my senior season with a spectacular finish and a state title. And although I’d spent a large part of the season working to be “just another player” in my mom’s eyes, when she got to put that championship medal around my neck, we suddenly became very aware of our special relationship. And I could not have been more proud to be the coach’s daughter.

All of the suppressed comments and frustrated sighs directed at my mom over the course of the season didn’t matter then, because my mom was putting that medal around my neck and it was one of the most special moments we’ve ever had.

I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Editors note: Kyley was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year in Connecticut.