April 8, 2014

Reflections on the Husky Parent Experience

By University of Washington

University of Washington men's basketball team hosts ColoradoLorenzo Romar, in his 12th year as head coach of UW Men’s Basketball, has two daughters who graduated from the UW, the youngest in 2012. Parent and Family Programs asked him to share his perspective on being a Husky parent alongside his role as a coach and mentor for students.

Besides coaching basketball, do you see mentoring as part of your role at the UW?

No question! If my sole reason to be here is just to win games, I am shunning my responsibilities. When students get to the UW, they are accountable for themselves and start to ask a lot more questions of themselves than they did in high school. They may start to wonder, “Am I really equipped to go out there and attack this world?” Being available to them during this time period, I just think that’s a great challenge and responsibility. It’s very gratifying to me. I think students need someone they can go to who’s not their parents…but someone who they still respect, who can help point them in the right direction.

How do you think the UW helped your daughters grow as individuals and prepare them for the working world? What would you say are the most valuable things from their UW student experience?

Well, they both had two different experiences. But in my younger daughter Taylor’s experience, for example, she was very involved on campus in the dance team, as a cheerleader and as a Dream Project mentor, helping low-income high school students get to college. She met a lot of people doing these activities. I also thought they helped her prepare for dealing with different types of people, learning organizational skills, and learning about working as a team in the real world.

From your perspective, how would you say you, as a coach, and the UW as a whole, is preparing student-athletes specifically for life after college?

I think it’s important to start preparing them long before they finish school. “Dinner with a Dawg” is something that UW Athletics puts on, where Huskies in the community – CEOs, attorneys, doctors, etc. – sit down and have dinner with tables of our athletes. Our guys can select what table they want to sit at, based on the professions of the community member guests. They sit there and quiz them about what they do, including finding out the general academic requirements and prerequisites they need to get at the UW before they will be able to do similar type of work. It’s been helpful!

For me, I’m constantly trying to find out where my players are gifted away from basketball, but also helping them to understand that they don’t need to be ashamed if they don’t know yet what that gift is. A lot of times, it just starts with something they like to do. So, we try to really look for that and encourage them to pursue a career path based on it.

What advice do you have for a more recent Husky parent, like say a parent of a freshman?

I would say, just be aware of what’s going on with your child. For example, our daughter was in the Dream Project. I’d ask, “What’s that about?” Your child’s major of choice, what classes they’re taking…educate yourself on that, just so that you can support them in their world, whatever that may be. Be there for support and let them know that you are in this thing with them. But, back off. They are not children anymore; they are not in high school. I’m a firm believer in, if you never let them touch the stove when it’s hot, they will never learn. If they touch the stove when it’s hot, I want to be there. So, when this happens, you’re in their world, but you have to let them feel it on their own and figure it out for themselves.

And, don’t underestimate how you raised them. If you feel you have done a pretty good job raising your children, here is the test: Back off. They will be alright.

 

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