I raised both a high level skater, my daughter, and a high level musician, my son. Never for a moment did I ever feel competitive with my son's orchestra directors or piano teachers. But I confess that I sometimes felt usurped by my daughter's figure skating coach.
What is it about the coaching relationship that makes it so different and so special? How do parents cede the control over this relationship to a stranger?
The sport's physical and emotional demands and the safety concerns compel the student to endow the coach with a significant level of trust. Because of this, the coaching relationship is a deep bond, nearly parental in its intensity. It is not just a trope to say that I love my students.
The coach often represents a child's first emotionally intense relationship outside the family unit. And a coach has access to the child that other beloved adults--teachers, soccer coaches, etc.-- do not. They have a lot of one-on-one time, and a shared knowledge and culture that excludes the parent.
It's insultingly easy, on the other hand, for a young student to leave a coach. I know that I've had students who loved me very much--who cried when I left, or their parents moved them. The first couple of times you see them after, they throw themselves in your arms. In a month, it's "Oh hi Xan."
It's hard to remember down in the trenches that you do eventually climb out of it. Even highly successful competitive skaters will eventually leave the coach; careers end after all, or move into a phase where a coach is occasional, or even superfluous. The coach eventually becomes a friend. But there you will still be, still the parent; the bond that need not ever be broken.
Have you ever been jealous of your child's coach?