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Tommy Amaker On The Role Of A Sports Parent

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Tommy Amaker (@HarvardBBall), a PCA National Advisory Board Member, has been Harvard's head basketball coach since 2007 after serving as head coach at Michigan and at Seton Hall. His college basketball career began at Duke, where Amaker started at point guard for all four years, leading the team to four NCAA tournaments and the 1986 Championship game. He was the 1987 winner of the Henry Iba Corinthian Award as the nation’s top defensive player, and he was enshrined in the Duke Athletic Hall Of Fame in 2001. His playing career also includes a gold medal as part of the U.S. national team at the 1986 World Championships.

As Harvard's basketball coach, Amaker communicates with his fair share of athletes and parents. He makes very clear the standards for the role of a parent, and how he addresses parents who threaten or violate those standards.

When he gets parents who are negative in the stands, he turns that into an opportunity to connect with them and reiterate the role he expects parents to play. He let’s them know how they should be supportive, especially during games, and to keep emotions in check in the stands. He also makes it clear that parents who want to discuss their children's roles on the team will hear sometimes-hard truth about coaches' evaluations.