Former Islander teaches a class for parents of athletes

Reporter Staff

Former Mercer Island High School graduate and coach Brad Rorem has had a lot of experience with parents and adolescent athletes. He has played and coached football and wrestling for the Islanders and is currently a high school teacher. Rorem will use his experiences to teach a class at Bellevue Community College and help parents through this phase of their child’s life, starting on June 26 for five Thursdays.

“Parents see most of what coaches see in terms of the growth of their sons and daughters,” said Rorem. “But as parents, we have a greater emotional and long-term interest in our kids, and it can lead to real struggles for us in the short-term. We worry about our kids’ relationships with other kids and coaches, injury risks, athletic confidence, training regimens, nutrition, scheduling and a myriad of other issues.”

Rorem said that the course is designed for parents whose children or adolescents are participating in team or individual sports, using the text “Whose Game Is It Anyway?” and instructor-provided materials.

“The book I’m using as a text for the class really drove me to pursue the idea of teaching the course,” said Rorem. “When I read the book earlier this year, I felt I’d finally found a decent teaching reference for a class in parenting young athletes.”

The class will explore issues such as “pushing” kids, teaching athletes to achieve emotional control, balancing athletics with other needs, understanding the role of the coach, coping with body image, and the benefits of participation in multiple sports.

“As both a parent and a coach, I recognized a real need for positive and proactive approaches to the issues that arise in parenting young athletes,” said Rorem, who received the Fran Nordstrom Volunteer Award for his work with the Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club.

In addition to reading the text, students will be expected to submit at least one parent/athlete issue for consideration in small group and class discussions.

“When we try to deal with issues surrounding our kids’ participation in sports, we usually don’t have the resources we need readily available,” said Rorem. “Often, we may try to run something past a friend or family member to get their take, or we may try to raise an issue with other parents at the ballpark. Usually the benefits resulting from these inquiries are limited, and sometimes results are disastrous.”

Rorem’s unique experience of playing, coaching and raising children on Mercer Island could give Island parents perspectives that they might not normally get in a class exploring these specific topics.

“I had great experiences in sports growing up,” said Rorem. “For three years in a row as a kid, I had a coach who drove a beer truck all day and then put on a whistle to coach us every evening. He didn’t have a son on the team or any other apparent reason for serving as a coach. I realized later, when I became a coach, what motivated him. It was simply the joy of seeing kids grow over the course of a practice, a game, a season, a year.”

Rorem was practicing law when he began coaching on Mercer Island, and the experience changed his life.

“Coaching taught me that I had a passion for working with kids and led me to a master’s degree in teaching from Seattle University and a new career in teaching,” said Rorem.

For more information or to sign up for the class, visit the Bellevue Community College web site at or call (425) 564-1000.

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