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Coaches Listening Can Help Athletes Work Through Grief And Struggle

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Greg Lum Ho, a 2017 Double-Goal Coach® Award Winner, coaches basketball, cross country and softball at Kea'au High School. Greg's coaching philosophy stems from his father’s lessons in the tradition of the calabash, a bowl for depositing coins when you have them to give for those in need. Greg's coaching perspective was shaped in part by the loss of his son, Maka’ala, a promising 16-year-old basketball player, who drowned in a 2011 kayaking accident.

In this video, Lum Ho shares that in situations involving the death of a team member or parent of a team member, or otherwise, the role of a coach is to listen to the athlete to help them process their grief. If kids need to speak or want to speak with the coach as they process grief, it's ok to stop practice, and as the Hawaiian phrase goes, "talk story" with that kid while the Assistant Coach runs practice.

Lum Ho does have personal experience with grief, having lost his own son, and he uses that story with his athletes each season to remind them that he too, has experienced pain, and that a positive attitude can be the best way to get through it. Even if an athlete is experiencing struggle that is unrelated to death, this can a good reminder that anyone can get through struggle with a great attitude. Either way, though, Lum Ho urges coaches to listen as the best way to help them process grief.