Robins youth coach wins award

  • Published
  • By Wayne Crenshaw
  • 78 ABW/PA
Ronald Hayes, director of youth sports and fitness, believes there is no better sign of a good coach than repeat customers. For season after season, he said, many children and their parents have been coming back to request the same coach, Donald Wendland.
That's why Hayes nominated Wendland to be honored by the National Youth Sports Coaches Association. The organization, which dedicates itself to promoting positive and safe sports for children, recently named Wendland its 2009 Coach of the Year. He was selected from nominations from around the country.

"The kids want to play for him and that normally happens when you are really good," Hayes said. "He just has a love of the game and a love of working with kids."

Wendland retired from the Air Force in January, 2008, and now works for L-3 Communications doing training in the 116th Air Control Wing. He has been a youth coach at Robins for five years, and coaches up to three teams each year.

He coaches basketball, baseball and, his personal favorite, soccer.

"It's fun, that's about the best way I can say it," Wendland replied when asked why he coaches. "My wife says I've never grown up so I relate to children as they are."

According to the association's Web site, the coach of the year award goes to "someone who places the emotional and physical well-being of players ahead of any personal desire to win; who treats each player as an individual; who is an enthusiastic team leader and a positive role model; who has a thorough knowledge of the techniques and rules of the sport they're coaching; and who understands that they can use their role as a coach to influence so many other areas of a child's life."

"While nominations poured in from around the country for all the outstanding work volunteer coaches are performing, Wendland stood out above everyone else, earning him this year's prestigious NYSCA volunteer Coach of the Year Award," the Web site stated.

Wendland said he believes that youth sports are important to teach children responsibility and sportsmanship. "Winning is last," he said when asked what he stresses to his players. "The first thing is to have fun, play hard and be a good sport."

Hayes said most of his volunteers have children playing, and Wendland is unusual because he hasn't had children in the league for years.

"He's always around regardless of what we need," Hayes said. "He's always there to help us. He's just an all around good guy, and he always puts the kids first."

His award earns him a trip to Orlando, Fla., where he will receive the award at the 8th annual Youth Sports Congress next week.