As coaches we must move past the normal cliché of asking questions like; "How are your grades?" "Have you done your homework?" or "Are you going to college?" Sometimes we ask these questions randomly thinking that we are doing something; but mentoring goes past the normal status quo. Mentoring is investing in the student athlete's academic structure as well as the athletic structure - in that order.
We as coaches must prioritize the importance of our role in the student athlete's life. For example: When you have a big game, the focus in practice is to maximum the preparation for the game. Therefore, academics become secondary because we as coaches have the student athlete so focused on that week's practice and the pressures of winning; that their academics fall because the parents and the players feels that same pressure.
The pressures of a parent knowing that they have a student athlete that is a main player but challenged with realizing what responsibilities academically is required for them also that same week. This creates tension or unnecessary stress in the parent and also causes the coaches to begin to manipulate the situation for the sake of winning a youth sporting event. The main purpose of youth sports is for the development and enrichment of our youth, has now lost its focus on the true purpose of why we do what we do as youth coaches.
My Philosophy: Coaches should have weekly dialogue with the parents to make sure the child is equipped with all the time they need for whatever needs to be done in school first. Therefore, when a game approaches the coach can make the necessary adjustments without putting pressure on the parent and the student athlete. Weekly dialogues with the parents will cause the coaches to be proactive in the student athlete's academic life, motivating them to put school first.