Last night I wrote my first 'disgruntled parent' letter to a coach.
KoKo is getting robbed in 9th grade volleyball. First, she was one of a handful of players to attend the RLF sports excel program last summer. She does not miss practice. She does not have an attitude. She might not be the best player on the team, but she is most certainly not the worst. Yet, last night at parent's night, we saw KoKo - a 9th grader mind you - subbed out regularly during their second game while 8th graders never sat. Now when KoKo was an 8th grader last year, she chose to move up to the C team last year (and guess what - many of the girls who did not choose to move up, who just chose to have a few weeks off before winter sports, actually moved up to JV this year!) - she rarely got playing time on the C squad. And certainly not ahead of other 9th graders.
Leaving KoKo's talent out of this, what kind of message is this sending to an athlete? The parent handbook that the coaching staff sent out at the beginning of the year mentioned how attending extra work sessions (such as sports excel) might lead to extra playing time. But in KoKo's case it has led to a decrease in playing time. What sense does that make?
I am in no way calling for equal playing time. As a coach, I know that is BS. But when a talented player sits when inferior 8th graders play, what is the message that is being sent?
So I sent off an email to the coach and AD last night.
We shall see if it bears any fruit or if it falls on deaf ears as is prone for this program. And they wonder why girls are quitting sports at an alarming rate.
Here is a great example - Kristie used to volunteer coach 5th and 6th grade girls basketball. When she decided to stop, the head coach got her a plaque and had all her former players sign it. Well, we just got around to hanging the plaque up. One day I couldn't help but notice as I was looking at it, all of the players who have been weeded out. Upwards of 90 percent. Now what does that tell you about the health of a program?
But again, just look at the attendance levels for sports. The volleyball bleachers were almost empty - even though it was parents night. The same is true for winter sports - well the boys basketball program reels them in, but that might be because they are cooped (or it could be that the coach runs a positive program). Even the football games are sparsely attended.
What has happened? I remember a local business owner stop me on the street when I walked by his car dealership and he assured me that they would be tailgating before our second home game of my junior football season. And that was after not winning a game my first two years of varsity football!
And it is not like the programs have been unsuccessful in terms of wins and losses. They have not.
I think it's simply a disconnect between the public, parents, and the sports program.
And it's sad too because sports could be so much more meaningful for the kids. Again, I'll plug Mumm's program, but just look at this week how his players have worked with the special olympics. And that is just one small element of what makes his program so rewarding for players. Sure, some quit, but there are a lot who remain. There are even some who decide to come out their senior years - and they always find a role on the team. How rare is that?
Again, sports can mean so much to a kid. Or so little.