Being a Little League® Mom and Coach Means You Play Many Roles and Wear Many Hats
Jennifer Matlack is a wife, a mother of two, and a volunteer Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball® coach living in Levittown, Pa. She has been a Team Mom, and has coached both of her children in Levittown Pacific Little League. In honor of Mother’s Day, the Little Leaguer sat down with Mrs. Matlack to discuss what it means to be a modern-day Little League mom, and why women make great coaches for both softball AND baseball.
LL: From a mom's perspective what is the best part of Little League?
JM: The games are fun, and it’s exciting to see the players do well. What I like are Little League’s rules. Minimum play is an example of how Little League cares about the kids’ experience. By rule, everyone gets a chance to play in each game. I also always feel better knowing that Little League is doing its best to protect everyone in the league through its background check process. It far surpasses any other program.
LL: Describe a typical "Game Day" around your house?
JM: A typical day game day around my house consists of both kids (12-year-old daughter, Kyrsten; 9-year-old son, Alex) getting ready far in advance of game time. We arrive nearly an hour before our pre-game practice is scheduled to start. Typically, we arrive early and stay late to watch other games.
LL: Why did you decide to become a Little League coach, and why did you chose to take on the responsibility of coaching baseball and softball?
JM: I had watched the bond between my son and husband due to their shared love of sports. In order to get my daughter more motivated, I signed up to coach softball. At that time, my motivation was teaching all kids the fundamentals needed and how to be in a team atmosphere. With my son, I fell into it while helping my spouse when needed. I found more joy helping the kids who needed extra help than those who excelled. At this point, my motivation is improving knowledge of the game and building interpersonal skills.
LL: How do you balance being a supportive mom and a respected coach?
JM: I attempt to separate my feelings as a mom, and put a coach hat on when I arrive at the field.
LL: What is the most interesting or enjoyable part of being a Little League coach?
JM: The interaction with kids who want to get better and give more than minimal effort. It’s satisfying to watch a child apply knowledge of the game.
LL: Do you think more moms should consider coaching in Little League?
JM: Yes. For my point of view, women tend to see a more "fair" approach to coaching. They can provide guidance and deliver it in a more sensitive way, while still being impactful and effective.
LL: Why do you think there are not more women coaching baseball?
JM: I think that woman are afraid they will not be taken seriously by the players, parents, or league. My experience has not been all positive. There are instances where my husband was consulted about my team by members of the league. These actions show that parents/kids pick up on stereotypes.
LL: What advice would you give to moms who would like to get into coaching, but are uncomfortable about being able to relate to, or get respect from, the players?
JM: Be assertive and set clear expectations with parents and children. Be fair but firm.
LL: Do you see yourself as a role model for your team?
JM: Yes, I do. I feel it’s my responsibility to show the kids that working hard and learning to work as a team leads to positive results. Being a leader doesn’t mean being good at something. It means doing the right things, not doing things right.
Note: Mrs. Matlack is an Insurance Quality Assurance Management Supervisor; and a member of the Little League International Coaches Committee.
For Mother’s Day, remember to shop the Little League Online Store for great gifts. Use the code: MOM2015 and get some great deals on Little League gear.
Each year, as part of the annual Little League Awards program, the Mom of the Year Award is presented. The national winner is selected from hundreds of nominations, and in August is invited to the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pa. to accept the honor. Information, and the nomination ballot for the 2015 Mom of the Year Award, is currently available on the Little League website.