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How Coaches Can Help Athletes Work Through Tragedy And Cope With Grief

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This resource stems from a question submitted to the Ask PCA blog. Responses come from our experts including PCA Trainers, who lead live group workshops for coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes.

"I coach 12 & U. The mother of one of my players just passed away. What can I, and the rest of the team, do to help and support her?"

PCA Response by PCA Marketing Manager, Eric Fischer

Thank you for reaching out to PCA. I'm deeply sorry to hear about your player losing a parent. I do not personally have any first-hand experience in dealing with the death of a player's mother, but I have dealt with the death of a teammate, and our organization has worked with coaches who have needed to handle difficult situations like the one you're experiencing now. At PCA, we offer our sincerest condolences to you, your team, and in particular, the family that is most directly coping with loss.

To answer your question, we are drawing from materials submitted as part of the nomination process in our national Double-Goal Coach® Award program. Tom MacLean, a youth football coach in Michigan, received one of our awards in part, for using football to rally his community and to help players and their families cope with grief. As one of his nominators explained, “In the years that our sons have played, we have had some terrible tragedies in the St. Regis community. Parents have lost children. Children have lost parents. At each and every turn, Tom has brought the broader community together to lift these families up from whatever has befallen them. The strength and resiliency of the human spirit is amazing, and Tom coaches us to remember that time and time again."

Download a printable version of this resource, including any additional commentary from PCA, by clicking the PDF below. To read more questions and answers like this, or to submit your own question to the Ask PCA blog, click here.

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