It is mid-summer and many have taken a break from coaching youth or high school sports. There is, however, never a break, or vacation, from parenting.
As children and then as adults, we’ve all heard – and then probably used - the expression, “well, there is no book on parenting.”
Well, Lumberton Youth football founder, coach and parent Bill Vergantino recently wrote a wonderful book on parenting, coaching and life called Kiss Your… Kids.
“It is not intended to be presumptuous,” Vergantino said about the book, which contains 57 tidy life lessons ranging from making lists and looking someone in the eye to making goals and understanding spirituality. “It is intended to say, whether you agree with any of it or all of it or some of it, to have you as a parent or guardian, or just as an adult who cares for kids, taking a step back and considering whether there are some things in life that are so important you want to convey them to kids or young adults.
“And, maybe you will read this and say, ‘holy cow I'm going to give it to them as is,’ or maybe you would look at it and say, ‘I will use this as a basis for conversation on certain points,’ or maybe you go, ‘I'm going to take some of it that I agree with and I'm going to add my own things and create my own version.’
"That was the premise behind doing it.”
Vergantino, a former star athlete and now a successful businessman who was raised in Bristol and Levittown in Pennsylvania, as well as North Cape May, and his wife, Melissa, have a daughter, Gabriella, 17 and son, William, 15. He is also the uncle to nephews Jordan, Justin, and Joey, and niece Samantha.
He has coached his daughter’s soccer and basketball teams and his son’s baseball, basketball, and football teams. So he has been in life's fire on the sidelines.
“One day, I said what happens if I get hit by a car and I'm not around to convey things I think can really have a positive impact on how my kids' experience life or my nephews and nieces and those who are close enough to call me uncle?” Vergantino asked recently while enjoying a milkshake at the Pop Shop in Medford.
“And, I'm like, that would be horrible because there's so much I want to tell them.”
So he has in his easy-to-read 159-page book.
“Even if I am around and I don't get hit by a car, thank God, I might talk to my kids now and it's not appropriate or not applicable or it's not relevant because the situation they can't relate to yet,” Vergantino added. “And maybe that doesn't happen for another 20 years, so I wanted to give them something that they could walk away with and look at the table contents and say, ‘did the old man have any perspective on this?’
"And maybe that can help them through it and give them some path to consider.”
Vergantino certainly boasts the credentials to give advice on sports and coaching. A recent inductee to the Bucks County Sports Hall of Fame, he was a four-sport star at Neshaminy High School. He is also a member of the University of Delaware Sports Hall of Fame where he was the Blue Hens starting quarterback as a freshman and left with 24 school records.
“One of the strengths I feel I truly have is I can recognize if someone really cares and delivers a message of value and I can pull out bits from each of them,” said Vergantino, who passed for more than 4,000 yards and rushed for over 2,000 yards at Delaware, about his former coaches.
One of his thought-provoking chapters is on time. And so he knew he needed to get his 57 messages out.
“I wanted to get it down as soon as possible,” said Vergantino, who sports a full head of dark hair and looks like he can still play quarterback even though he starred almost 30 years ago for Delaware. “My nephew was the first to fly the coop and so I wrote a cover letter to my daughter and son and nephews and nieces with it and gave it to my sister-in-law and asked if it was OK to give it to them and she said, “I need this.’
“And she said, ‘you really need to consider publishing this.’“
Indeed, his caring messages aren’t just geared to guiding kids.
“I had a woman who broke down in tears and told me the communication section has changed how she has interacted with her husband,” Vergantino said. “For her, that was impactful; for others, it's with their kids.”
Vergantino has matched his staggering success in sports with his business ventures. He has helped to start four software organizations, which were either acquired or went public. Most recently, after 10 years serving as CEO and co-owner of ExpenseWatch, Inc., a software organization outside of Philadelphia, he sold the company last year.
“I always, whether it was work or athletics, say what is my goal and what am I trying to accomplish and what is the most efficient way there,” Vergantino explained.
Vergantino still refers to Dale Carnegie’s immensely popular books “How to Make Friends and Influence People” and “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” as guides to living his own life. So he understands how helpful self-help books can be in life.
“Out of the 57 lessons, people often ask me which is my favorite one,” Vergantino said. “And my favorite is the one that says life’s obligations, that if you're breathing and you’re alive, you are obligated to do two things: Enjoy life to the fullest, and the second thing is to help others to enjoy life to the fullest.
“And if nothing else, if you do those two things and at every point you have a decision to make whether I do this or I do that, you're going to end up falling back on that and have a fulfilling life because you're going to be enjoying it and you're going to help others to enjoy it.”
Vergantino writes a chapter about the attractiveness of confidence and being humble and he certainly lives them both. He believes in his messages, but he doesn’t force-feed them.
“The thought is that these are thought-provoking opinions and for them to consider them or to be emboldened by them or directed in someway by them,” Vergantino said.
“My intent is not to present these as being true or accurate and important,” Vergantino continued with deep sincerity in his voice. “My intent is to represent what parents' interests are to convey, what they think or topics of consideration and have my kids read them, to do just that, to consider them and consider all perspectives about them, not to tell them this is how it is.
“So my hope is that it helps them evolve to who they eventually become, not to dictate who they should be.”
Vergantino truly wants to help others enjoy their lives and relationships more, like he simply enjoyed his milkshake on a summer day.
Kiss Your … Kids can be purchased very simply at www.kissyourkidsbook.com as well as on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd and IBooks.