The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) continued their virtual Dodgers RBI season last night with its seventh coaches training featuring Dodger Alumni, Andre Ethier. Ethier joins the series not only as a two-time All-Star, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove winner, but also as a parent and youth sports coach. Over 250 Dodgers RBI volunteer coaches and parents registered to hear his approach to youth development during an interview by LADF and Dodgers Training Academy staff.
During the virtual coaches’ session, Ethier shared the power of parents as coaches. His mother was a volunteer coach and his very first T-ball coach at the age of four. His grandfather, also a professional baseball player in the 1940’s and 1950’s, was a major influence and reason for the baseball love running through his family.
Now as a coach himself, his passion for youth sports and keeping kids engaged in baseball is evident. “I started coaching 8 to 10-year-olds and I really just wanted to create and instill a love for the game,” said Ethier. “It’s been a blast. I have a real joy doing it.”
On creating boundaries as both a parent and coach, Ethier admits it can be tough. “It’s not a serious game yet at this age. There is no benefit of winning other than the confidence of the kids,” said Ethier. “I try to be as diplomatic and as easy going as I can. I want the kids to have the attention and know what’s going on on the field and get the accolades as to why the team is successful.”
Ethier has had important conversations with his own kids about the current pandemic. “We’ll get back to doing this when we’re permitted and it’s the right opportunity and right parameters. There are other things we need to do civically and our human responsibility is to put everyone in a safe position. We are not going to go out there and force baseball games.”
He encouraged families to do what they can when they are home. He shared that when he was younger his family had to get inventive with his equipment. “We had a pecan tree and we would put the pecans in a bucket so we could still play all year round,” said Ethier. “Be creative and keep whatever aspect of baseball going that you can.”
On encouraging females in baseball, Ethier said, “One day we might see a woman in baseball being a pitcher or a position player. There are a lot of girls out there who may break the barrier and be a major leaguer. There are just as many girls in the youth game that are just as capable of playing baseball or softball as well as their male counterparts.”
Although new to the Dodgers RBI coaches training series, Ethier is no stranger to the work of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. During his Dodger days, Ethier was an avid supporter of Dodgers Dreamfields, LA Reads, Breakfast in the Classroom, and several of LADF’s grantees through his #DreDayz initiative which hosted youth for VIP experiences at Dodger Stadium. In 2014, LADF also partnered with Ethier and his wife, Maggie, to revitalize the learning center for the homeless men and women of Skid Row at Union Rescue Mission.
To ensure that coaches have the appropriate resources, LADF’s training series teaches baseball and softball fundamentals, trauma-informed approaches, concussion protocols, and positive youth development strategies from Dodger coaches, Positive Coaching Alliance, UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program, Up2Us Sports and the Dodgers Training Academy. Virtual training sessions feature interactive polls, demonstration videos from presenters, Q&A sessions with panelists, and LADF community resources and programming.