Coaches Corner: Eric Wheeler

Name: Eric Wheeler

Team: (ex: MARA baseball) MARA AA Machine Pitch Braves (6 & 7 year olds)

1. How long coaching? Head Coach for two seasons, Assistant Coach for six seasons

2. Why become a coach? I wanted to be involved in my children’s life and make memories with them. I also felt very passionate about making a positive impact on the children that I come in contact with. I played little league baseball growing up in South Charlotte as a child. One year, I had a coach who was very negative and never allowed me the opportunity to play. I can still remember my mother going to the park one day to discuss this with him. I believe it was more of her chewing him out but in the next game, he played me and I hit a home run. Unfortunately, he ruined my little league experience and I gave up baseball a season later. I want to make sure that no other child has that type of experience in our league.

3. What advice do you give kids before, during and after the game? Before the game, I remind them to try their best and to have fun. I try to pump them up and get them excited; but ultimately, it is all about learning the game and having a good time. Of course we want to see wins, but that is not the primary focus. During the game, it is our time to teach them, remind them where the plays are, providing positive reinforcement if they make a mistake so that they don’t dwell on it and keep their heads in the game. After the game, we recognize the positive accomplishments of all players, discuss what we did good and what we need to work on for next time.

4. What advice do you have for parents? We encourage parent participation both on and off the field. Nothing is more important to a child than looking at a parent in the stands during a game when they have made a good play. Children need the emotional support and reinforcement from parents more than anything. The first person they want to see support from is mom or dad, not the coaches.

5. Favorite sports moment? I have three kids (daughter – 12; sons 9 & 6) and all three are involved in sports. I can distinctly and vividly remember moments in all of their sporting events where they have accomplished a wonderful play. I still remember the first home run that each one hit and them jumping into my arms after crossing home plate! It is an incredible feeling and I am truly blessed to be a part of their lives. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!