Parent Coaches’ Experiences and Insights into a Youth Soccer Program


  • Andrew Kerins
  • Mariela Fernandez Clemson University
  • Kimberly Shinew University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



volunteer, parents, sport, soccer


Municipal governments continue to struggle with decreased funding. In order to offset depleting funds, agencies rely on volunteers to provide resources to the public. In youth sport programs, parents provide much of the support, and it is estimated that 90% of youth sport coaches are parents. Given that parents have been instrumental in youth sport programs, the purpose of this study was to understand parents’ experiences and insights associated with volunteering by using a youth soccer program located in a mid-sized town in Illinois as a case-study. Specifically, the study examined (a) parents’ motivations in volunteering, (b) challenges parent coaches faced while volunteering, and (c) parent coaches’ recommendations to agency personnel. Using a purposive sample, 11 parents were interviewed. Findings indicated that parents were motivated to volunteer in order to help their child, and several expressed a more in-depth philosophy about giving back to the community. The primary motivation and benefit for volunteer coaches was their relationships with the children. Relationships with other adults in the program were also significant, but they tended to be secondary. Challenges in volunteering included working with the children, parents, and agency staff. Agency recommendations included providing incentives to coaches, conducting player assessments, ensuring that recruited volunteers share the agency’s philosophy, and addressing volunteer concerns.

Author Biography

  • Mariela Fernandez, Clemson University

    Dr. Mariela Fernandez is an Assistant Professor at Clemson University. Her research interests center on the lack of access to green spaces in Latino(a) communities. Other research activities have included projects focused on the programmatic aspects limiting Latino(a) participation at a recreation center, the development of life skills in Latino(a) youth, and the cultural competence youth leaders need in order to address challenges arising from an increasingly diverse society. Mariela’s dissertation focused on how the nonprofit sector can be mobilized to increase access to open green space in an urban Latino(a) community, and her future work will focus on the needs of Latino(a)s in rural communities.


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How to Cite

Kerins, A., Fernandez, M., & Shinew, K. (2017). Parent Coaches’ Experiences and Insights into a Youth Soccer Program. Journal of Amateur Sport, 3(1).