the north face sale A few bad apples
FELDY: We’ve heard it a lot in our years of writing about athletes and coaches a good coach who decides enough is enough, not because he or she doesn’t want to coach anymore, but because he doesn’t want to deal with outside pressure. It came to the forefront again this week when long time Brainerd boys basketball coach Scott Stanfield announced he’ll step down at the end of the season because of complaints and poor treatment by some parents. Stanfield is a police officer in Brainerd, and told the Brainerd Dispatch that “Coaching was worse (than being an officer). Coaching has been way worse. If you win, it doesn’t matter. If you lose, it doesn’t matter. If their kid doesn’t get enough playing time look out.” This about that. There are so many great parents of athletes out there you and I know many of them, Phersy but a minuscule few can give the rest a bad rep.
PHERSY: “Your kid isn’t good enough.” That sentence is a tough pill to swallow for many parents. At one time, it wasn’t; years ago when parents heard that, they said, “Well Timmy, you need to work harder.” Now, it’s “Timmy, why is that coach out to get you?” Too many parents expect coaches to invest countless hours into their children AND win state titles every year. And even worse, they care less about the team and more about Timmy’s playing time. We all would be far better off if parents could dive into extra curricular activities with the proper mindset. Mainly, that your kid IS NOT going to receive an athletic scholarship. If he/she does, that’s fantastic. But high school athletics is not and will not be about your kid earning a scholarship; that scholarship should simply be a (bonus) byproduct of the journey that is high school athletics, a journey full of life lessons, bonding and overcoming obstacles.
FELDY: Beyond that, Phersy, scouting is so progressive these days that kids don’t slip through the cracks. If you’re good enough, you’ll get noticed. That’s a blanket statement, for sure, but it applies in a majority of cases. And, I fully understand how parents feel. I am one. You put a decade of your life and thousands and thousands of dollars and hours into watching your son or daughter play a sport and you want the best for them. But, high school sports aren’t Little League. Nothing is guaranteed. That’s definitely tough to swallow sometimes. But you’re right, high school sports are full of life lessons that parents should let their kids learn. Let coaches do their jobs. A vast majority of them are there for all the right reasons to help kids grow not only as athletes, but as people.
PHERSY: There are no easy solutions to this issue either, Feldy. I did adore the response of the Brainerd activities director, though. While obviously he was not to blame, he still felt responsible. And to a degree, I understand his pain, and his comments tell me he’s an outstanding leader. A strong activities director protects his/her coaches. When I see strong leadership from an AD, that includes making sure parents aren’t constantly interacting with coaches, particularly on issues pertaining to playing time and game strategy. Yes, ADs have more than enough on their plates, but keeping those overly aggressive parents away from coaches can be the difference between retaining your truly phenomenal coaches and replacing five or six of them every school year.
FELDY: Look at the successful programs in our area and their head coaches. A couple that come to mind off the top of my head are Mabel Canton volleyball (coach Lonnie Morken) and Caledonia football (coaches Carl Fruechte and Brent Schroeder). They’ve built powerful programs in small communities. Yes, those coaches (and other perennially successful coaches) have the benefit of some incredibly talented players. But those players improve in large part because the high school coaches want young kids to grow up hanging around their varsity programs. They want them to experience the winning culture. Kids can’t do that if coaches only last a couple of years. Those ultra successful coaches will also be the first ones to tell you they don’t always make the right decisions or play calls. Coaches are human. They have to be allowed to make a mistake, just as athletes are.
PHERSY: All coaches want to win; they all have a strong desire to compete. But, the good ones understand if you’re doing the right things outside of competition, winning generally takes care of itself. The goal always should be to help create better human beings. That happens through thorough preparation, teaching your athletes how to handle adversity, displaying the values of teamwork and selflessness . the list goes on and on. When a coach is doing those things for your children, teaching them those invaluable life lessons, win or lose, please thank them! They’ve invested in your children; they deserve your support.