Take a long hard look in the mirror, and you’ll quickly realize what’s important in life and what needs to be prioritized. That’s where today’s story begins, and when Sam Bartlett, Assistant Principal at Eagle Valley High School (EVHS), recognized he had to pivot – to be a more present father.
Following nine years of coaching the girls’ varsity basketball team at EVHS, Bartlett decided it was time to step back. It was time to focus on his wife and children, who had helped “dadda”, coach the team on and off the court for years.
“I loved coaching at EVHS. We did it as a family, at each practice and every game. It was really hard to give up, but it was a huge time constraint, and I recognized my kids needed me,” shared Bartlett.
Bartlett stepped away, and began chasing another opportunity, allowing him to live his dream of being there for his kids and their athletics.
“ I took on volunteer coaching at Mountain Rec in 2015, starting with coaching my oldest daughter’s wee baseball and softball team. Immediately I knew I wanted that bond with each of my kids. To give each of them a similar amount of attention and care as long as I am able to,” said Bartlett.
Seven years later, he has been able to coach Dagny (11), Mila (9), Duke (8), and George (6). Not to mention hundreds of local kids across basketball, baseball, and softball. His wife, Tanisha, has also stepped in and has coached volleyball and wee soccer.
Reminiscing over his years as a volunteer coach, Bartlett shares that the key has been balance. He’s been keen on providing enough push, opportunity for growth, and constructive criticism – while being patient, having fun, celebrating his players, and encouraging them to celebrate one another’s successes. Including his favorite moment above all, each kid’s “aha” moment.
“Any time I see a kid that is starting to get it and start to see things click is the most satisfying feeling. There are so many kids I’ve watched come onto the field timid and scared, then leave confident and ready for the next season. It’s amazing,” shared Bartlett.
Assistant Principal, But You Can Call Me Coach
Fast forward from 2015 to today, and you’ll find that the same kids Bartlett coached as 2nd graders are now 6th and 7th graders on the brink of becoming high schoolers. Many of them still remember their first season with Coach Bartlett.
“It’ll be interesting as kids get older. I’m going to have an even richer knowledge of the students that attend EVHS in a few years. It’s fun to have coached them, and I look forward to supporting them again, now in a different capacity,” said Bartlett.
While interviewing Bartlett about his players, now teens, he made many things clear, particularly that – students need to understand that you know them, you respect them, and have some varying degree of love for them. It comes from a better place if students know you care about them before you can offer any guidance or constructive criticism. Maintaining that genuine relationship can be as simple as checking in.
“Just that acknowledgement and a smile and a ‘hey how are you doing? You still playing basketball?’ You see the kids’ faces lighting up. That an adult is taking the time to ask them how they are and what they are doing in life. I think that kids, regardless of how they act, want adult attention. They want to know that people care about them, they want to know that their parents care about them, that their sports coaches care about them. That’s something that they crave. They conceal that more as they get older, but it’s there. It’s something that really drives me. I just want to be somebody that is approachable and interested,” said Bartlett.
It’s thanks to Bartlett and all coaches, mentors, and teachers that our community thrives and grows stronger everyday. Whether it’s kids at basketball practice in 2nd grade, high schoolers, or even teachers, rest assured Coach Bartlett is there making sure we are better than yesterday.
” I have owed a lot to everybody that was monumental in shaping me early in life. If I can give back, that is something I’m interested in,” concluded Bartlett.
Thank you to our Volunteers
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Sam Bartlett, his family, and every volunteer coach out there as we cannot provide our programs without their involvement. Every year our community continues to grow, and so does the demand for youth sports. In 2021 the District had 460 volunteer coaches, in 2022 that number climbed to nearly 500. Thank you to everyone for stepping up and making a difference.
We thank our volunteers every year with a family dinner. We receive nominations for Volunteers of the Year, a committee selects the honoree who is then celebrated for their selfless work, time, and energy. Submit your nominee here.
Our next dinner is on March 23, 2023 at the Brush Creek Pavilion and is sponsored by ANB Bank. Be on the lookout for an invitation!