Coaches are not the only role models in the gym. The younger kids look up to the older kids as they aspire to become “one of them.” Team kids are often the role models for their younger counterparts.
So, one of the things I try to teach my team kids is that their actions are being watched. They must follow the rules like everyone else. If their parents drop them off before workout, for example, they are sometimes tempted to get on the equipment and goof off while they wait. If I catch a team kid on any of the equipment prior to workout, they get the honor of cleaning something in the gym. After cleaning a few mats, or crawling under the tumble track to clean, they learn to stay off the equipment really fast.
Otherwise, if they are allowed to break any of the rules, the younger kids will likewise think it’s okay to break the rules.
As our team kids get older, they are often interested in learning about coaching. So, we assign one or two team kids each summer to become gymrats. Gymrats hang out with us in the gym during classes and float with the coaches or help around the gym. The younger kids feel like they are getting to meet a celebrity when one of the Gymrats hangs out with their class to help. The gymrats feel pretty special because they become one of the “junior staff” and as they get old enough, they are already semi-trained to become coaches.
The awesome thing about raising team kids to become coaches is that they are already initiated into our gym’s culture. They know what we expect and how we expect the children in our gym to be treated. Many of them have come up through our preschool program, so they know the preschool warm-up like their favorite childhood jingle.
I love having staff members who have come from my program. The continuity creates a family of coaches who provide the role models we want.