Episode 07: Making a Difference in Youth Sports

Lets Tall Podcast

Let’s Talk About Youth Sports: Go Oshkosh Kids + Women’s Fund of Oshkosh!

Youth sports today can look very different from when we were young. With new technology, the commercialization of sports, and early specialization, parents and kids face many challenges in navigating the modern sports landscape. 

Playing sports comes with lots of benefits for kids, but there are also common issues: pressure to win at all costs, economic barriers to participation, parent over-involvement, and referee shortages. 

How can parents navigate these issues and focus in on those benefits and positives? How do we keep our kids active and having fun? And is anyone playing casual or pick-up games anymore? 

We’ll talk all about it with our guest Ali Starr of Tashi Deley! 

For supplemental articles and resources, visit: gooshkoshkids.com

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Meet Our Guest

Ali Starr, Owner Tashi Deley

Ali Starr started her business, Tashi Deley (Ta-She De-lay), to pursue a passion and a dream. Prior to creating Tashi Deley and working at Verve, where she had a huge impact on organizational culture, she was the principal at Lourdes Academy Elementary Schools in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, while coaching their High School girls’ basketball team. Ali has also worked for the NBA, NCAA, and NBC. 

Outside of Tashi Deley, Ali enjoys golfing, basketball, fishing, creating arts/crafts, and, last but not least, dance parties with her children Penelope and Vincent.

Meet Our Hosts

Amanda Chavez, Owner & Creative Director, WiscoFam / Go Valley Kids / Go Oshkosh Kids

Born and raised in Appleton, Wisconsin, Amanda Chavez deeply loves her community. As a busy mom of 2 little girls, she and her husband are always on the lookout for fun things to do and share with others. Her work combines all her passions – motherhood, design, and community. Some of her other interests also peak through as well, including baking, photography, and sewing!

Karlene Grabner, Executive Director, Women’s Fund of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation

Karlene Grabner is a graduate of Lourdes Academy and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where she studied finance and economics. She has shared her knowledge and passion for improving the Oshkosh community for the past 20 years through her work at the Oshkosh Community Foundation and Women’s Fund of Oshkosh. Karlene loves playing board games with her family, and when the weather is right, you’ll find them enjoying boating, wakeboarding, and kayaking with their dog, Bago.

Special Thanks

Liz Schultz, Producer, WiscoFam / Go Valley Kids / Go Oshkosh Kids

Marlo Ambras, Audio & Video Engineer, Ambas Creative


Amanda Chavez  00:00

Hello and welcome to Let’s Talk, the show that connects families in Oshkosh with local experts to talk about your parenting questions—we’re so glad you’re here. I’m Amanda Chavez, here with my co-host, Karlene Grabner. And today, we’re talking all about youth sports with Ali Star. Often, today’s youth sports look very different from when we were young, with new technology, the commercialization of sports, and early specialization. There’s a lot of challenges that parents and kids face in navigating the modern sports landscape. Playing sports comes with lots of benefits for kids, but there are also common issues, pressure to win at all costs, economic barriers of participation, parent over-involvement, and referee shortages. How can parents navigate these issues and focus on the benefits and positives? How do we keep our kids active and having fun? And is anyone playing casual or pickup games anymore? We’ll talk all about it today with our guest, Ali Star.

Karlene Grabner  00:53

Ali, we are so excited to have you. Ali is been a friend of mine in so many different capacities probably for probably close to a decade. And she is an extraordinary human in all respects. And we’re excited to have you today. And if you wouldn’t mind, would you just give a little background about yourself? 

Ali Star  01:08

Yes. So I’m so happy to be here, you guys. And this subject is so near and dear to my heart, on many levels. As a mother, as a coach, as a athlete, you know, a collegiate athlete, I just have a lot of love, empathy, and respect for the subject. So I’m so grateful you chose me, and I get to be here with you. I’m Ali Star. I have served in a couple of different roles throughout our Oshkosh community, and all of them I’ve loved. Specifically, being a principal was really powerful for me. And coaching, I still get to coach, and so I do that for my day job. I get to work for a company called Tashi Delay—it means I see you, and I honor the greatness within you. It’s a Tibetan greeting. It’s how the Tibetan people greet one another. And so really, the goal of Tashi Delay is to just help people be Tashi Delay. How do we help people honor the greatness within themselves so that they can honor the greatness within others? So happy to be here!

Amanda Chavez  02:00

Thanks, we’re excited.

Karlene Grabner  02:01

Let’s Talk is brought to you through Go Oshkosh Kids’ partnership with the Women’s Fund of Oshkosh. The Women’s Fund of Oshkosh works to improve the lives of women, girls, and families of the communities in Winnebago County through philanthropy, grant-making, and education.

Karlene Grabner  02:23

So let’s kick it right off. You are back into the coaching space and coach this year, the Lourdes Academy High School varsity basketball, girls’ basketball team. So I guess out of curiosity, how did that go? How did it feel to be back and all that good stuff?

Ali Star 02:37

Karlene, I always say to people, when they asked me this question, I say, I wish everyone had an eight-year sabbatical, and could come back with like this clear lens, this fresher perspective, this recognition of like: Why am I really coaching? And what is this all for? I think teachers, it could be professional care workers, it could be any, any industry. If you get an eight-day sabbatical—I think it’s lovely. An eight-year sabbatical is what I had, and I never thought I’d come back. So coming back allowed for many things that when I left, I could say, “Wow, why did I do that? Why did I have captains? Why did I show up in this way? Who is that really for? Was it my ego? Was it my own dreams and desires as a player that were unresolved or like that I’m pushing on to my players? And what am I making, like winning mean about me?” There was just so many aspects of the game that I didn’t uncover as a young coach that I got a chance to this time around. It’s been awesome. It’s been awesome.

Karlene Grabner  03:36

And what are a few of those tidbits you can share with us? 

Ali Star 03:40

Well, I’ll tell you this ladies. At the beginning of our meeting, at the very first time I met with these parents, I gave them some some statistics that I thought would help us get to why are we all here? Why are the players here because no one has to be here. This is like I kept reminding my players this is a get to, this is like a choice. You can spend your time and energy anywhere and yet you choose to spend it in the gym with me. I, I want it to be well worth it, you know. And so what I shared with them at the beginning of our parent meeting and player meeting is that around 410,000 women young girls play high school basketball, okay. 26,000, about roughly go on to play college. 4000 go on to play for an NCAA Championship, which we just got out of March, right? So we kind of feel that March Madness. And even if you’re not a big basketball fan, you can kind of rally around some of the fun activities. And only 144 make it a career in the WNBA. Okay, when I give you those percentages, of course, they’re numbers and nobody’s writing them down, and hopefully you’re driving in your car listening and gaining some wisdom and perspective in ways that you wouldn’t prior, but like 7% go on to play college. 1% compete for an NCAA National Championship .000, I was not mistaken, that’s three zeros family. Okay, .0003% actually make a career of it. So the question I asked is like, what is this really for? What is this really for? The chances of your son or daughter wanting to go on and play college, they may be capable, but they may have no desire by the time they’ve been doing it since they were in kindergarten. And now, all of a sudden, here I am going to be in, you know, college. And I’m like, well, maybe I don’t want to play this sport anymore. Maybe it’s not who I am. And yet I’ve carried this label with me this whole time. So starting out like that, Karlene, has been huge, just reminding, why are we here? Why are we really here? And to really examine that independently and together as a team, I think has been super powerful. 

Amanda Chavez  05:53

Awesome. Are we done?

Karlene Grabner  05:57

No, no, yeah. No, she, I told you, she’s gonna make you stop every time and be like: Oh, I gotta take that in and then decide what? Yeah. 

Amanda Chavez  06:04

Yeah, there’s you touched on so many things, right? Like that identity and the sport, and the energy, and the being an athlete and life skills, right?

Karlene Grabner  06:20

Well, and I don’t want to bounce all over. But I will, out of curiosity, like what I mean, I’m fascinated with this conversation. Just because I am in the middle of it, I have I have a daughter who is on a National Volleyball League. And I would have said 10 years ago, there’s absolutely no way I would ever, ever, ever travel nor allow this to happen to my family that we would be divided and spending money on on this type of activity. However, the joy in me loves to watch her, loves to spend the time with her and these other families that also have a shared whatever shared thought process of what we’re all doing, but I don’t understand in all big picture, where have our families or parents or as individuals, where have we gone? You probably might as well not even if you’re not already a star soccer player by third grade, I have a son who’s also in second grade, it feels like well, you might as well just kind of hang it up. And I don’t know where that’s come from.

Ali Star 07:07

Yeah, I, you know, it’s, it’s, when we were preparing for this ladies, I kind of thought about this, the pendulum, you know, and how it kind of swings so dramatically, you know, when I grew up, and we didn’t play a competitive game of basketball until seventh grade, we didn’t keep score. We just we, I, you know, I don’t know if other, you know, I’m 41. So I think about, you know, generations prior, you know, prior to me, and my mom, you know, was like, gosh, baby, there wasn’t much besides maybe cheerleading or some of these other, you know, extra, almost like extracurricular, they’re not as much of a disciplined sport per se when she was growing up. And so, my generation, I kind of look at it as the first generation that was like lifting weights and kind of in this space of like, athletically competing in, I suppose Title IX kind of came in and helped along with that as females. However, you know, now we’re in this space of like, AAU basketball, let’s just say or club volleyball, Karlene used to be like, you had to be of a certain caliber level in order to play it, you know, in beyond just your regular season. Now, which is also great. You know, again, there’s a both and here this is not about right or wrong, this is not about it’s about a bowl fan. And understanding that as much as we have swung over to everybody gets to play, everybody gets to compete at any place at any there’s a space for everybody, which is phenomenal. I’m not minimizing that is as much as then other things go away, like family time, you know, the divide and conquer mentality, the extra income to try to pay for some of these things that our children are enjoying. And I think I would like to just pivot for one second and talk about the label because I think if we didn’t spend some time on the label of who am I like, I’m a volleyball player, I’m a soccer I’m a we are soccer people, you know, we are swimmers, you know, that’s what we do. I think what we can do real quick at home, is start to have conversations with our children about what they enjoy right now. What are you into right now? Like, not like, we’re so used to seeing kids? What’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite sport? It’s a way to connect. So I don’t want to minimize the deep connection that can be had by asking great, powerful questions. That’s why Tashi Delay exists is it’s the power of a question to help people self discover, however, the way we phrase it, and how we ask it, the tone, the expectation of them to be able to communicate how they really feel versus looking at mom? Or looking at dad? Like, ah, you know, I mean, can I really say like, I really hate baseball, but I play it because my dad played it in college, or I play it because it was conditioned. And so I think oftentimes when we don’t know as parents and I and equally as guilty of it, how to allow them to think, become individualized, be autonomous, in their own decisions and guide them, like with bumper rails, but not like, well, this is what you are, this is who we are, this is what we do. And then the feeling of what happens if I don’t like it, even my children will say like, “Mom, what if I don’t like basketball? Is that cool?” Like, you don’t have to baby. Thank you for asking.” However, I think those conversations are hard to have, because there’s already a preconceived conditioning that takes place long before they even know that they can answer them themselves.

Karlene Grabner  10:38

Yeah, I think you’re right.

Amanda Chavez  10:40

I think as a parent too that, when you see that passion and something that they have, right, it’s easy, like you’ve hit on the nail, like that connection. It’s like, I mean, I know I’m guilty of it. Sometimes I’m like, do you like anything? Like, what are we doing every day? Right, like, so if they tell me something they really enjoy doing? It’s like, oh, yes, there is something. But I love how you said like, taking a break and listening and having those conversations is really important.

Karlene Grabner  11:05

Well, and it’s funny, because with my son, he’s not a sport kid. And I don’t think he’s going to be and I’m trying to figure out how I how I parent to that. Because the other day, he said something, I’m like, “Well, why aren’t you know, maybe you should hang out with this little little guy.” And he’s like, “Mom, he’s not a funny kid, I want to be around the funny kids.” And my son just likes to joke and be silly and whatever. And it’s hard, because I’m like, okay, and I just want a parent to, like you said to individualize him and make him feel great about his life. But I’m like, well, what do I do with a funny kid, you know, whereas and, you know, I knew what to do with Anika, you could run outside and let’s shoot the basketball together, like you and I are going just to hang out and shoot buckets. And it was probably more about the doing things together. I participated in every sport, but never was great at anything. And it didn’t matter, and I’m, you know, closer to 50 than I am 40. And, but it’s very different now. And it feels very different from the energy of everywhere, that you can’t just do that to do that anymore. But it’s hard again, I think as a parent to figure out, okay, you know, my kid likes X or seems to enjoy, like you said, maybe right now in this space enjoys Legos or something, how do you? How do you work with that, but that’s when we figure that out, we’ll be the best parents. 

Ali Star  12:22

That’s why we’re doing this. Yeah, you know, that’s why we’re doing this is because I think that collectively, together, we are stronger than the problem that keeps tripping us up. And yet at the same time, systems are slow in shifting. And so it may be our children are grown and out and they have a different way of tackling it. I think, I never want to give advice, because I think a lot of times we’ve searched so much for it outside of ourselves that if we just take spend some silent time with ourselves, we usually can come up with the answer quite quickly. And I so I would love to invite our listeners to sit in a space where they’re like, you know, how do I ask my children deeper questions for self discovery? Versus, you know what, let’s try this. Or hey, you know what, like, I heard so and so’s getting into camp, let’s let’s toss you in that maybe that’s your thing. It’s because the message underneath they could say is, you know, who you are is not enough, you got to do something different. You know, you gotta you gotta always be, you know, busy. And if there’s one thing we know about technology right now is that the busyness has not allowed us to be bored. We’ve heard that before, which boredom comes from such great clarity on, you know, looking inside, and answering some of those questions for ourselves that we may not be able to when there’s so much noise.  

Karlene Grabner  13:45

And, do you have key things that you do to, like, do that self-discovery or to help your kids walk through that self-discovery analysis? 

Ali Star  13:55

It could be as simple as that. And I’m not saying this. This is my perspective. Again, it’s one recipe, right? There’s so many recipes. And this is one perspective. Like the other day we are driving to my parents for Easter. It’s about two hours away. I let them enjoy like a video together. They were watching something on TV, YouTube or whatever. And then I just said, “Hey, babies, let’s let’s be bored. You know, let’s shut everything down. Let’s look out the window. Let’s daydream. Let’s just be bored for a bit. You know the last half hour let’s just be bored and see what comes up, you know, and certainly we can have conversations, but we’re shutting down the radio, we’re shutting down the electronics.” And it’s just, it’s as simple as that I think guys is just like a quick little thing to remind them how healthy it is to not be consumed with some sort of stimulation. And another thing I love to do with my kids now, we don’t do it every night, and I’m gentle on myself, I used to be the mom that was like, “Oh my gosh, we’re gonna do you know, it’s like this utopia. This is how our dinner tables gonna look. This is how our conversations are gonna go; everybody’s gonna have these life-changing, you know, things to share with one another.” And it it never, my expectations never met my experience. And therefore, I was constantly disappointed. And when I’m disappointed, I don’t show up as a mom I’m proud of. So what I was like, okay, what can I control? And every time we do sit down at the dinner table together, there’s one thing I expect, and that is we read this like passage from Jesus’s calling, and everybody goes around and shares what it means to them so much so that even the kids friends know when they come over, you know, Miss Ali’s gonna invite them to share and they don’t have to like it’s an invitation, never an expectation. But my kids know, I want to know what they think about the passage. You guys, what this is done for our family, I can’t even express so it’s just one little book, one page, people can read, you know, other all my kids take turns reading, and everybody, including my husband, and I, go around and share what it means to us. This gives them the ability to a in our home, connect with God deeper and to develop a personal relationship, it gets them to see how they, their siblings have a personal relationship, and Jeff and I. And also what they heard is not what the person next to them heard. And guess what that is, okay. It’s okay to hear something different at this season in your life, it’s okay to have a different opinion on what we all just read, even though it was the same words. So what it allows them to do is have these critical thinking skills, which I think is so vital at this point, because Karlene in a minute, when we get into the space of organized sports, okay, I want to share this really profound, I think this is super profound, I read it in a book, I didn’t come up with it. And they said, they teach the kids kick this way. Shoot it like this. No, swing it like that. Hit it like this. The point is, they are constantly being told, and they’re not burning the neural pathways in their brain to be critical thinkers think for themselves. The imagination is distorted, because we’re constantly told what to do when to do. So when we’re bored, we want someone to tell us what to do. When does that make sense? So a lot of times, when we are in such an organized fashion, the coach runs the show. And if you have a healthy one, yea, if you don’t, well, we could talk about drips on, you know, your child’s you know, self esteem. And some of those things much, you know, we that could be a whole nother series on a podcast for goodness sakes. But when they’re constantly being told what to do when to do, they don’t activate the creative side of the brain, the right side of the brain that allows them for innovate, excuse me innovation, in ways to try things that may not work, you know, and then learn from that and try again, because they’re constantly coached this way.

Karlene Grabner  17:39

Right, which is so important to learn how to fail too, with what you just brought up to, it brings me to my other like thing that I’m finding in the world of sports. And this happens at the school that we’re a part of. And I’ve seen it in many schools, we get the audience that shows up at the sport, the parents, probably grandparents, everybody gets a 20 minute lecture on how to behave. And I always find that fascinating that I’m being told how to behave in the audience at a basketball game, football game, whatever it may be. Because I’m like I have obviously somebody has behaved so poorly, that we need to have instructions on how it looks to behave as an adult in an audience. So I’m just curious because this is another hot topic that I know Amanda has received emails on too, like about, it’s hard to get refs, it’s hard to get people who want to coach, and again, what have we done as parents or what as a society that we’re allowing such nastiness to follow us into these moments as opposed to just being there and being happy to be there.

Ali Star  18:40

So, again, my perspective, you think of the generation we are and we’re having these kids that are kind of coming up and through when I was younger, I saw coaches like Bobby Knight, kick balls, throw chair, and so when I became a coach, I was very conflicted. Is to if I was a little bit more loving and gentle like a John Wooden does that mean I want to win or does it make me a win or does it not make me you know, get grit or intensity or whatever they whoever they is, say these children should look or play like or expect, right? You have to win at all costs and  what has happened is, is again, slow society movements, it’s like, you know, we all of a sudden recognize like, you can be intense and it doesn’t have to look like screaming your face off at a young college kid that is here to just help pay for his college or is here to just help your son or daughter learn the game in third grade. The regulation, the self regulation, in totality, to me, as a human race is hard. And it is exposed very much in sports, because it’s intense. And there’s, there’s competitiveness. And so I think it’s a more human issue than it is a sport issue. I just think we see it show up in sports, because that’s a real quick vehicle to see if somebody has the ability to self regulate or not. And then what’s happening team is we’re like, the coaches are modeling the way the parents are modeling the way for our children, to see how you treat someone. If you don’t particularly care for a call they’ve made.  And Karlene, I mean, I know you’ve watched me coach, we’re dear friends outside of this. It’s like I tell my babies all the time, listen, you will not even so much as like, raise an eyebrow at a ref, like if I so much to see you even open your mouth, an inch like it because, again, I’ve never seen a ref say, “Gosh, you know what, Ali? Ali Star, you’re right. That was a terrible call.”  “Let me reverse this thing. So you and your crowd are happy.” 

Karlene Grabner  20:49

“I’m reversing it.”  “And actually now your team won.” 

Ali Star  20:50

“Let me check off the other side of the fence.” It’s like I say to my kids all the time, “You don’t play a perfect game, I don’t coach a perfect game. They don’t have a perfect game. Let’s have empathy.” And let’s activate that muscle that we all desire. 80% of us desire more empathy with the people we work with. Sports is a great vehicle. It’s it’s not only the issue, it’s also the answer, right? It’s also the answer that we can start activating some of these things. And it’s as quick as when you misspeak, “I’m so sorry, I let my emotions get the best to me, I misspoke.” You go up to the ref at the end of the game, “I was jawin’ you up. I am so sorry. That’s not how I want to be.” “Kids, that’s not how Daddy wants to show up. That’s not how Mommy wants to show up, it wasn’t her best. I love you. I’m passionate about what you love. And when I see something that I think was maybe a wrong call, it got the best of me, my goal is to get better next time.” I mean, that’s as easy as it needs to be, is just radically owning the behavior that was probably less than your best.

Amanda Chavez  21:45

I mean, that’s what I love about these conversations, because we came here to talk about you sports, right? And it’s all over the board. I had a conversation with someone last week, and she’s on the school board. And she said, who’s gonna want to join the school board anymore? Right? If we don’t have people joining those important roles?

Karlene Grabner  22:02


Ali Star  22:03

Absolutely. Or, you know, you’re constantly being what do I want to say? I’ll say, like judged, or, you know, for choices or word choices or things you’ve said at a meeting or you know, and that’s why I think forgiveness in sports is so important too. And I do some work with Division One teams in Greenbay Women’s Basketball, and I’m so blessed to be able to do their mindfulness work. And we talk about how do you build trust, because most people know, on a team, what it looks like when it’s eroded. Most people don’t know how to build it or repair it. And so oftentimes, we’re gonna disappoint one another. I said, “Guys, you got, you’re playing with each other for four years, some of you at a high level. You’re competing at a high level, you’re competing in practice at an even higher level, because I know Coach Borseth, so I know you are, you are like scrap and you want to win every drill, you have this competitive edge. That’s why you are of the 1% that’s competing for an NCAA National Championship. How do you repair trust, because the game is not worth losing yourself, or showing up in a way that’s not the best friend that you desire to be for some of these players, you you go to war with every day.” So, you know, some of those things, I think are not spoken about? Because we’re just so busy from how are we going to get the kid from A to B, and C to D? And how are we going to feed them in the meantime? So when we have those deeper conversations, even if it’s five minutes, guys, that’s all it takes. You know: “What do you make winning mean about you, Annika? What do you make losing mean about you?” Because I’ve been working with my therapist a long time on it just the other day she said to me, “Ali, have you ever thought about what sports took from you?” And I mean, my if I could have been the brain emoji that like pie you know, like that, you know, it’s popping like I like Pop Rocks. I was like, “No.” And she goes well just think about it and she was a she was a almost a Olympic shotputer her so she’s played at a very high level. And she said, “You know, we talk a lot about the confidence and the team and the camaraderie and the things that it gives you. But sometimes, it can also take so much of you into the point where nothing success to you, you haven’t defined success, you’re chasing something in your adult life, you know, and then it impacts your marriage. And I mean it really.” So we talk a lot about what it gives, I also think we need to start having good conversations around what it could take so we can get ahead of the thing for our generations now.

Karlene Grabner  24:32

Wow, that’s an that’s, that’s deep. That’s, that’s great. That’s really deep. I love it. You just talked about some very important stuff like building trust, and all of that, too. And I know, the age group that you’re dealing with, at least at this moment in time, are high school girls, particularly which men, women, all of them face this. How do you instill in them the ability to understand there’s another game in front of them, there’s another ball. Because I see with my own world, people being just so disappointed every time they screw up. And then that defines their week, their month, their year, they missed the last shot, they. And actually Ali, we just brought together a bunch of people for focus groups and mental health professionals, excuse me, brought them together and had focus groups with them, like we did with the parenting focus groups to come to this moment. But one of the things they talked about a lot was just being comfortable with being like you said, in being bored, and how important those types of things are. The other thing that they said that sticks out to me like crazy is life is a moment of fours and fives and we live in it like it’s a moment of nines and 10s. And and how a 9 and a 10 is when your babies are born, or you’re you’re you’re having the wedding or whatever, and or when Preston reading or gets that pass to get that shot that wins the state championship, that every kid now thinks that moment should be every game all the time. And when it’s not. It feels like they’re in entirely ruined. And as a coach, I mean, how do you how do you help build that up? Is there a strategy there?

Ali Star  26:09

Well, so, this is so lovely. So first of all, again, we try to get grounded in like, why are we here? You know, what is this really all for? Because what I heard you say Karlene, at least what I was making it mean about me as a coach. And as a mother is, “Life is grawful. It’s made up of great moments and awful moments.” You know, and to live in the grawful space, I think encourage kids to say like, “Wow, what a learning this is.” Andn I tell my kids all the time, “Listen, you’re gonna 10x this.” We had a really tough loss mid year, and I just said, “Babies like, we get to take this and get 10 times better as a result of it.” It’s we either get better or bitter, like there’s no in between. And so for to kind of get that mindset of like, I am so grateful this happened and when it did, right, and there’s no one person that lost it for us, no one possession. And so again, just reminding them of the bigger picture. And again, I think like I do little things guys, like I give them all erasers we do like a little pregame and I give them all erasers and I say if you think that I want to see you hang your head, I want to see you erase it as quick as you made the mistake. Like, I don’t need you to make three and four more mistakes. There’s so many possessions in a game of basketball, that if you’re stuck, and the one that just happened good or bad, you know, you can’t be fully present in the next one. And so I’ll give them little tips and tricks and like, you know, little tangible tools. Like at the beginning of the year, I gave them a little goldfish and I said, “Hey, do you know how long a gold’s a goldfish has a memory? Like, how long does the goldfish memory last?” And they’re like, of course, they’re smart. And they know, you know, they look it up on the you know, they’re like, whatever Instagramming or whatever they do nowadays, they all knew it. They were like, “Coach, it’s like 9 to 11 seconds or something.”  And I was like, “Yes. That’s how quick is I want you to have this goldfish mindset. Because it’s not worth sitting in. It’s not worth stewing in. And it’s definitely not worth you know, holding yourself in this guilt shame for any kind of significant time, especially not days, not weeks, not months, you know, you take it, you learn from it, you become better, not bitter.” And so those are just some little tips and tricks that we use, that have helped our kids hopefully get out of that like slump.

Amanda Chavez  28:22

I like how you said like just that time in the car and having those conversations and reflecting on that too afterwards. I think sometimes as a parent, we want to move. I mean, I think there’s healthy things on moving on. Right but just talking about it and just being in that space too is important, whether that’s right after or when we talked about in an earlier podcast, the importance of family dinners too, right and having those conversations.

Ali Star  28:45

I think I want to share because I think that’s you hit on something that’s that struck my heart in a way that I feel moved to share is like, as parents, if they’re taking their cues from us, it’s so important to understand our conditioning in our upbringing and our why. Because I had a father who was a Vietnam vet. There, I was raised by my dad and my brother, so very male dominant, you know, type of home. And I remember distinctively leaving games, like I had 21 points in the first half, and I had two in the second. And all we talked about the whole way home was the two I had in the second and what I could have done differently. Now I know, my dad was trying to build a resilient, confident, you know, as successful as I could possibly be in the sport young woman, okay, that was his intent. His impact didn’t always align with his intentions. And as parents, I think that’s something we can really lean into is our intentions don’t always align with our impact with the words we say. And if we don’t know what to say, it’s better to say I love you, I’m proud of you. I love that you love this game. Or ask questions, you know, than to say too much, or to try to make it better. Like sometimes when they’re in pain, just let them be. Let them let them feel the feeling of falling short, because it’s not going to be the first time in their life that they’re going to fall short. We don’t they don’t need saving. They’re not broken. They don’t need fixing. They need to just lean into it.

Amanda Chavez  30:15

I think it goes back to like what you said to about that living in the nines and 10s, we had one to a workshop with a friend of mine, we drove home. And I think sometimes we feel so entitled that we need to go to this workshop and have like 100% of that content has to be relatable, or impactful, or it was a waste of time. And she was really good at grounding me and saying, “Amanda, you just need one nugget. What’s that one nugget that you can learn from or grow from? You don’t have to everything doesn’t have to be relatable. You don’t have to agree with everything.” They said, “You just need one nugget. So was that spending time in the car with me driving home? Or was it the speaker that you listened to?” Was it winning that game? Or was it this ride home with your mom? Like? Yeah, like what? It doesn’t have to be the whole time, that whole thing doesn’t have things work? Right? For different reasons. But yes. Even like when we’re doing these podcasts, right, we were saying like, what is that one nugget? Like I learned something every time?

Karlene Grabner  31:20

Absolutely. Multiple things. Yeah.

Amanda Chavez  31:22

it’s usually not what I intended. Right? 

Karlene Grabner  31:24

Yeah, right. Right. But another question that we get a lot or that was a huge conversation during the parenting focus groups. And I guess, coming from a Women’s Fund angle, I wish I knew what I could we could financially do to grant more towards it. But do you have any tidbits, I know this is asking you for a big question. But where did pickup sports go? How can we get them back? Or is there an atmosphere that we can work to create in this community so that kids can just go out and have a good time doing things and experimenting with things but yet not being expected to again by third grade have mastered what soccer means to them? Or forget ever trying it? I mean, do you do? Have you learned anything in your world of sports that you can share? Or what are your thoughts on that?

Ali Star  32:10

Well, I’ll say again, from my conditioning, because my sports was a huge part of my life growing up, and so having to unlearn that my children don’t have to be intense or don’t have to want to play college, even though their father and I played college sports. That has been a real struggle for me, I’m being completely transparent. Not making how my kids perform mean anything about me as a parent is tough. And I don’t think you just like figure it out. And then you’re like, Oh, I got it. I think there’s always testers. And so when you talk about pickup sports, and these ability for them to just try things out, play against kiddos that are older or younger, and see how they interact. Like my daughter goes across the street to Reed Elementary, and she plays pickup with kids that she’s never met before. And she’s in third grade, and some of them are in eighth grade. And so she gets to see, like, how do they treat her? How does it make her feel when she’s not picked? Or when she can’t play and? Or how does it make her feel when one of the studs picks her in passes or the ball and so there’s just such a great learning in it now. I’m right across the street and I can see ’em otherwise I’d probably be in my car watching. I’d be one of those moms and I again, I think it’s because we’re just so unsure about what is actually being said and going on and what kind of drips and so like again, I’ll say to the kids like, “you can’t unsee it. You can’t unhear it. You can’t unwatch it. And probably in the most extreme points in your life, when you’re probably going to have to make a really tough decision, I will not be there. How are you going to handle it?” And so like, it’s seeing more before and having these conversations so that we can put them in a position that we feel is safe. And also an opportunity for them to learn in not an organized fashion. In not an organized fashion. I guess one quick thing came to me because Karlene, and I feel like you guys just like make stuff happen. Like, like, you’re like, Oh, we want to do this for you know, let’s all here, we’re gonna put on you know, live music, or we’re gonna do like you guys just figure out a way to solve for things. You ask great questions, you get people around the table, and then you provide. And so I don’t know, there’s like, I have this thought, have you guys seen that refrigerator that’s behind Wagner’s market? That’s so cool. Now I’m like sitting in like, the space of like, what if we have like a cage that kiddos could, you know, there’s some sports stuff. Like, again, I don’t know, you talk about the safety of a bat and a ball, but maybe a kickball or something that we put at these local places that you would just trust. And if, you know, people could say, oh, gosh, you know what, that popped the holes or someone took it home or whatever? Well, then we refill it. Because I guarantee we have enough philanthropy, we have enough people around here that are like, whatever, we’ll just keep an eye on it, like no different than the food, where people you know, add, and I know I have a ton of balls sitting around that I would be more than happy to donate to, to a space where kids could play pickup. And it’s great idea, you know, something like that, where you just kind of have, you can click around, try encourage trying. And if it works great. If it doesn’t, you know, at least we’re not worse off for having, you know, invited the space to play.

Karlene Grabner  35:20

Yeah, that’s a great idea. Anything, we didn’t ask you that we should have discussed today that you could I mean, and again, the subjects could be vast with you, but like, in your coaching and in your playing as a athlete, yourself and all that anything you want to share?

Ali Star  35:37

I think if I were to share one more thing, it would be the understanding our own expectations of ourselves. So we’re not disappointed if we experience something different. You know, a lot of times kiddos, expect to start or expect to play every minute. And I’ll ask my players, “Babies how there’s 12 girls on the team. There’s 37 minutes in a game, you know, how many do you expect to play? Like, truthfully expect to play like, look around and like, tell me, because here’s the thing, I don’t want to disappoint you. I don’t want you to be disappointed every time you’re sitting here thinking you should be going in and I’m thinking something different.” And so having those real conversations, and also taking a deep, deep dive in. I mean, I remember one of my players who’s a phenomenal tennis player, I was like, Well, what if I just walked up and said, “Hey, I want to be you know, the single I want to be number one, you know, whatever it is called singles, you know, and in tennis.” And she’s like, “Well, that’s my spot.” And I’m like, “I get it. So like, what if I just said, Well, I want it like how do I earn it and and you’d say like I’ve already earned it, though, like there’s only one, number one. And that is the position that I hold, because I’m qualified.” It’s no different than the kids that shoot, you know, and they’re, they’re expected to hit threes. It’s no different than my defensive stopper, because that’s her job. And so it’s sometimes it’s having those real conversations with our kids, so that they can actually enjoy the practice and the prep and the team. And they can bring what they have. And they don’t have to feel that they have to bring something or be the game winning assist or hit the game winning shot to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

Karlene Grabner  37:17

That’s awesome. Since this is geared towards parents, is there anything especially with your your comeback to coaching? Is there great examples you saw some parents do that make you say I am proud of that parent and what they just did there, or I’m proud of that community around those kids or anything like that.

Ali Star  37:35

I love my parents, I’ll say this. I asked them, I said this at the beginning of the year, I said, “Listen, I’m going to get it wrong. I’m going to I’m going to miss an assignment, I’m going to miss a play call, I’m gonna, I’m going to you know, not see something, and maybe after I’ve reflected thought I would have done that different. And how you respond, when I as the head coach, get it wrong, is going to make or break a lot of how they experience this season.” So as parents, I would say if you feel yourself getting elevated, if you feel yourself frustrated with a choice that the coach has made, or a ref has made, what are you going to do because that’s predictable? So it’s preventable. It’s like, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to sleep on it? Are you going to make sure you have conversations with another adult versus your child about it? You know, how the parents respond when I get it wrong matters to their experience. And so a child feels obviously love towards their parent. And so if their parents bad mouthing me, they feel as though they have to have a chip, even if they understand why I made the choice I made or even if they understand why playing time is where it is. So it’s like to put them unintentionally, I know no parent would do it on purpose, you guys, that’s not at all, we would no parent wakes up and says, “Gosh, I can’t wait to mess up my kid today. I can’t wait, you know, to send them to therapy, you know, for decades on end.” And it’s like, Nobody says that. No parent says that. And so if we can just again see a little more before and see like how this might impact them. If I save this, what could they hear? If I if I show up like this? What could they unintentionally gather that might put a stressor, a conflicted, like I have to choose between my coach and my parents’ opinion. Or provide a safe space for them to say, “Gosh, Mom, Dad, I don’t see it that way. I did my position, I’m comfortable with the amount of minutes I’m getting.” You know, providing that kind of environment is not easy. And wow, how powerful it could be if we could figure it out.

Amanda Chavez  39:49

I’m thankful to have you in that space, and how you’re inspiring other parents and kids. My little stint was I coached fifth grade volleyball. And only by default, there was nobody else to coach it. And I tell people, when people ask how the season went, I said, “I think I spent more time teaching these girls how to be a good friend than actually playing volleyball.” I was so worried that he didn’t know how to do the skills and the drills. And it was just, that was my takeaway, and I love how you’re inspiring that different coach, right?

Ali Star  40:24

I love that you share that. Because isn’t it at the end of the day, if we can say our children grew as humans, like into the next best version of themselves, it was well worth it regardless of the win-loss record? And one of the things I say to my kids all the time is I say like, listen, the one rule that I have is you will not talk about each other, you will talk to each other. There is nothing that is more divisive for young women and young players than if they feel that one of their teammates doesn’t have their back or it doesn’t have the courage to share something that could help them create an even better version of themselves to their face. And so we learn the tools, we take in some Tashi Delay tools, so they know how to have those uncomfortable conversations, yet not avoid them. Because how many times do we say like, “Oh, it’ll get better?” Or when has it ever gotten better when we said that, like, I feel like if anything, it’s, it’s it’s gone, you know, 10 times in the wrong direction. Because we’ve made our we’ve made things up about it that never really existed about their friendship or what you know, that not inviting me to that party meant and all those things, and now kids can see it real time. You know. So it’s, it’s one of those things that if we can continue to teach them how to treat each other in such a profound loving way, and furthermore, know how they want to be treated. So they can teach people how to treat them that way. That’s what I’m big and doing right now with my third grade daughter is people don’t know how to treat you. If something bothers you, you have to be willing to have a conversation with them about it. And we can roleplay at home and just the other day, she went to a friend and said, “Hey, is now at recess is now a good time to have a conversation about our friendship.” And the little girl said sure, and they had a beautiful conversation. You my Mommy Instinct was like that, don’t play with her go find somebody you know, like, it’s like we when did that ever work? When did that ever work? Isolating or not including people like it just doesn’t. And so to be able to have conversations that really matter, to teach people how you want to be treated and and then see them do that. And then hopefully they say the sheriff, same for you. So you can have this beautiful friendship whether your teammates or just classmates matters not.

Karlene Grabner  42:41

Today’s topic should be youth sports and so much more. I like that so much more.

Amanda Chavez  42:48

We’re looking forward to sharing some of the resources that were mentioned today with listeners and their families. As always after the episode we’ll share all the things that we talked about today, along with local resources. Join us for our next episode when we’ll talk about water safety as we head into the summer months. Visit gooshkoshkids.com and our Facebook page to continue this conversation. Thanks again to our guest Ali Star for sharing her time and knowledge with us. And thanks to our producer, Liz Schultz, our audio and video engineer, Marlo Ambus and of course to my co-host, Karlene Grabner, and the support of the Women’s Fund of Oshkosh. Thank you to our listeners for tuning in. And we’d love for you to share the episode with a friend, subscribe on your favorite podcast platform or leave us a review. Let’s talk about it again next month.

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