The love of coaching
By Julie Matuszewski; photo courtesy of Donny McCleery
Youth sports teams are more than just kids running around a field trying to figure out the dynamics of a sport. A sports team creates fond memories and provides experiences that bring groups of kids together. Add in the support of parents and volunteer coaches, and it is the perfect mix for building a strong community bond.
Donny McCleery is not only a Castle Pines resident, but he is also a dad, community volunteer and youth sports coach with Castle Pines Athletics. Donny, like many dedicated individuals, chooses to spend his free time volunteering on the field – not just for the love of the game, but because he truly enjoys the connections made within the community and enjoys helping local youth develop into strong individuals.
Donny and his wife, Mindy, have been residents of Castle Pines for 19 years and have always loved sports and being around kids. In his youth, Donny wrestled and played soccer, baseball and tackle football – Oklahoma style. He even threw discus and shot put. The couple’s 4-year-old son, Drew, shares their passion for sports and is an avid swimmer, soccer player and soon-to-be wrestler – just like his dad.
Ten years ago, Donny began coaching with the Douglas County youth wrestling program and has been coaching within the Castle Pines community for 12 years. As a college student in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Donny assisted the seventh grade football team. It was then that Donny realized he genuinely enjoyed being around kids and watching them progress both on and off the field.
Donny is in his second season coaching his son’s Mighty Mighty Penguins soccer team. He loves all the kids he currently coaches and has coached through the years. As a dad off the field and coach on the field, Donny teaches his son, players and team parents that, just like adults, young players need affirmation after a hard day, a hard practice or a bad game. “It is about the process and the work they put into each practice and game,” he said.
While separating being a dad and coach can be hard, he said, it is about loving the kids you are coaching the same as you love your own kid, and Donny plans on always coaching and being engaged in the community where he’s raising his family. Selfishly, he confessed coaching and being around the youth in the community is a blast for him, and he feels energized being around the kids.
Jessica Nelan, a parent from one of Donny’s teams, has seen firsthand Donny’s passion for coaching and his energetic personality. “It is not uncommon for Donny to turn a drill in to a bear hunt or another game,” commented Nelan. This technique, she said, makes the practices and games fun for these young players.
“All parents should volunteer and coach,” said Donny. “No skill except loving the kids, being present on the field and encouraging them to have fun is needed. That is something we all can do,” he continued.