Have you ever had a coach yell at you in a sport? As children are beginning to start playing competitive sports at a younger age, this common coaching technique is exposing young children to harsh criticism that may not be appropriate for their age. Rick McGuire— a professor and coach at the University of Missouri at Columbia as well as an author of books on sports psychology— is coming to Western’s campus to speak on “Winning Kids with Sport.”

“There is far too much negativity with kids [in sports]” said Ralph Vernacchia, a professor of physical education and director of the Center for Performance Excellence at Western.

With an abundance of volunteer coaches, Dr. Vernacchia stressed that despite their efforts, volunteers “don’t know about the methodologies of coaching children.” Dr. Vernacchia strongly believes in the “educational value of sports,” as well as the power of sports to “[stress] value orientation…and sportsmanship.”

However, he also addressed the importance of a positive environment in order for children to grow in positive ways, “the quality of leadership determines the value of [a child’s] experience [in sports].”

The primary focus for McGuire’s lecture is to educate youth sport coaches, parents, and students studying physical education. However, Dr. Vernaccia also recommends that anyone in the teacher education program at Western would probably be very interested as well.

A colleague of Dr. Vernacchia, Rick McGuire is the guest for the WWU Center for Performance Excellence’s fall Distinguished Lecture. McGuire’s rich background includes: being a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee Sports Psychology Registry; consulting for the Olympic Track and Field Team in 1992 and 1996; and co-authoring “Coaching Mental Excellence: It Does Matter Whether You Win or Lose.”

“Winning Kids with Sport” is at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24 in Arntzen Hall 100 at Western Washington University. It is a free event, and the community is welcome to attend.