Thursday, February 10, 2011


Hello. It's a few days before Valentine's Day. Have you been bombarded by commercials and flyers leading you to purchase a diamond heart necklace or a big box of chocolates? I have had a number of Valentine's Days under my belt and now look at it from a simpler perspective. Don't wait until 2/14 to tell the people that are important to you that you love them. Each day is precious when you have the love and support of family and friends around you. Forget the hearts and flowers....write a note...give someone a hug...tell them that you love them now. My dad says...."I want flowers now, not at my funeral..." He makes a very good point.

Now that I have that off my chest, I would like to continue my thoughts about coaching. I have not had a great fondness for a few of my children's coaches, but when individuals volunteer for the role, I am restrained, sit back, keep my mouth shut, and support my athlete. I coached for a number of years and so did dad. In fact, Buddy's dad coached a number of his teams from ages 4 until 15. These teams were either grade school basketball or township baseball or soccer. He did his best to be fair to all of the kids. However, there were times as the kids aged that they became more outspoken and belligerent. The coaches had to say something to the kids to keep them in line and unified as a team. Sadly, parents were another story. Their kid was always the most gifted and athletic. They had a number of criticisms during each game and practice regarding the coaching or lack of coaching techniques.

There was one incident when Buddy was 15 years old. He was playing in a township game on a very hot day and his dad was keeping the stats book since he no longer desired to coach. He sat quietly on the bench and tracked the game at the coach's request. I was working at home and did not plan on attending the game. However, Tink went and sat in the stands. While the game proceeded, parents began to talk negatively about Tink's dad. They were nasty and felt that he should not be coaching and leave....but they also felt Buddy needed to stay. They talked more "smack" and Tink was becoming visibly upset. She left the stands and called me at home relaying what she had heard. I asked her if she wanted me to come and she said that she was fine. I hung up the phone and went back to work thinking about her words. I usually have to process new information rather than immediately reacting so it took a few minutes before the gravity of the situation hit me. I learned this at work and over the years, so after a minute or two, I knew what I had to do.

These gossiping parents had violated an unwritten code. The code is...if you do not have all of the facts, then you are not allowed to comment. In other words, there was a great deal of information that the parents did not have sitting in their cozy seats that rendered them ineligible to comment. As my blood pressure rose to a level that is not compatible with life, I got into the car and sped to the field. Slamming the door, I left the car in an unauthorized spot and found Tink. As I asked her questions like Allie McBeal and found the culprits in the stands. Asking the leader to step away from the stands to speak to me, I began to "school" him.

The instigator was a father who sits in the stands, eats seeds, and comments on everything. Has he ever volunteered to help the team, sweep the field, keep the book or coach? Nope...but he considered himself an expert. Since I was taller and angrier, (I think) I was pretty intimidating. As I looked him in the eye, I calmly (yes, I was calm) told him that there were things that he did not understand about the team, players, and coaches and that he needed more information. I also told him that he spoke in a condescending way about my daughter's father as she sat in the stands in front of him. Did he not see her? Please use more restraint when you gossip about someone especially if the family sits in front of you. I also told him that my daughter was upset and crying. How did that make you feel?

He was perspiring as I spoke. I actually did not give him an opening to speak since I did not want to hear anything that he had to say. After the figurative "smack-down", I asked him to be more careful in the future, if he had any questions to ask the coaches and do not assume anything. I shook his hand and said...good luck as I looked at him in the eyes. He sheepishly went back to the stands and I went home, sat down, and had an iced tea.

Why do I bring this incident up? Well,  I feel that volunteers should be given a "pass" when it comes to coaching. I also think that if a parent has an issue or suggestion, he or she should speak to the coach. If they are not going to help, then sit back, eat your seeds, enjoy the game, and take your athlete out for ice cream when it is over.

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