An Open Letter to All Parent-Coaches

A heartfelt thank you from one daughter to her father, the coach — and to all parent-coaches everywhere

Jenna Tanner

| 3 min read

Jenna Tanner

Dear dad,

Thank you for being there for me.

Thank you for showing up on those cold days with extra layers that I was bound to forget. Thank you for teaching me the importance of teamwork. Thank you for giving me space to find my confidence on the field — it has radiated into all aspects of my life. Thank you for sticking with me as I learned how to ride the high of a victory, and the low of a heart-wrenching loss.

I hope you realize the impact you had on me.

At the time, I didn’t realize what you gave up to make it to all of those 5 p.m. practices. It must have been hard juggling work, life and soccer. I didn’t realize the effort you put in off the field to structure practice and create game plans. I didn’t realize all of the weekend activities that were pushed to the side as we drove to yet another far away tournament. 

I didn’t realize what you put aside, to put me first.

I attribute so much of who I am today to the lessons I learned growing up playing sports, and truthfully, I most definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I wouldn’t have the same sense of leadership that I rely on when I’m working with a group of my peers. I wouldn’t have the same level of drive and motivation that I now use to push through life’s tough obstacles. I wouldn’t know how far my body is able to go without those practices that pushed me as an athlete.

I appreciate you so much.

It can be easy to look past everything that you gave up to give me the opportunity to play, but I wanted to make sure you know how much I appreciate you, and how many memories have stayed with me throughout the years. I remember the post-game breakdowns we would have on the car ride home. I remember prepping orange slices in the kitchen with you when it was our week for team snack. I remember hearing you shout words of encouragement toward me from the sideline.

I hope you know the role you played in me becoming who I am.

I smile when I think of all the kids signing up for their first team sport, unknowingly about to embark on years that were so  fundamental in my own life. Sports shaped who I am today, and so did you. I learned quickly that the field, court or turf was my second home, and you helped show me that.

Words cannot express the gratitude that I feel now. Your support throughout my childhood still resonates with me, even years later. Thank you so much for all that you have done. None of it has gone unnoticed.


All of the kids who were lucky enough to have you as their coach

Jenna Tanner played AYSO in Lakeview, Michigan in the mid-2000s, with her dad as coach. She went on to play soccer on a travel team and in high school. The teamwork, camaraderie and individual passion she found on the field carried her from U10 through college and beyond. She is now the associate designer for MOJO.


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