Category Archives: Confessions of a Coach

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Monday Morning QB – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Let’s start with the “Ugly” and work backwards. I like ending on a high note…

High School Football – I was at the North Kitsap – Bremerton game Friday night. Bremerton dominated. RB Kyle Kennedy (amended) reminds me of John Riggins. They trounced the home-standing Vikings and deserve accolades for the win. Why is this an “Ugly?” Because Bremerton coach Nate Gillem allowing his team to humiliate an opponent is totally classless. Bremerton intercepted a Viking pass on their own 3-yard line with only a couple of minutes left in the game. They were winning 35-7. Game over, right? Wrong.

After getting out of the shadow of their goal line, Bremerton preceded to pass the ball downfield (with their starters) to attempt to score again. They threw long, they ran trick plays, as NK coach Steve Frease screamed at them from the other side of the field with his finger pointing to…the scoreboard.

With seconds to go, Bremerton ran a reverse play to score a TD. Not an off-tackle, not a dive, but a reverse. Thank goodness they were called for holding, so it didn’t stand. They then kneeled down to end the game, but the damage was done.

Gillem explained they needed the win (already firmly in place by only 4 tD’s). He also said he let his players call the plays. Great. So that’s why every coach on your sideline was encouraging the players to score. Sportsmanship needs to at least stay in high school sports. In an era where parents are out of control on expectations, and kids are being wooed by colleges at younger and younger ages, you’d hope coaches would at least show some measure of respect and charity. I’m all about winning. I’m not about humiliating kids and coaches in front of their fans. Coach Nate Gillem was way over the line and should be reprimanded. His players should have been in the spotlight after the game. Not him.

Bad – the Seattle Seahawks offense. Fortunately for them, the “Ugly” went to someone else. Special teams won the game the previous week. No such luck in St. Louis. Coach Carroll has 2 weeks to figure out a way to make first downs, much less touchdowns. This is getting to be as anemic as the Mariners offense. And they at least had Felix Hernandez to help them out every 5 days. Oh, wait. They never scored runs when he pitched. Never mind.

Good – Spectacular – Tremendous – Jake Locker was left for dead by the national media and even members of his local media and fans. Like the Phoenix, he rose from the ashes and single-handedly led his team to a huge victory in Los Angeles over USC. Nebraska? A distant memory. 1-0 in conference and one win closer to a bowl game. If it took the Nebraska loss to catapult them into a positive Pac-10 season, I’ll take that loss every time. That could very well be a season-defining win for this team.

P.S. My daughter and I tied for the Fantasy Baseball bragging rights. I guess we will have to break that tie next year!

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Confessions of a Coach #1 – Open Letter to Parents of High School Athletes

Confessions of a Coach will be a new category for this blog.  I spent 6 years as a high school basketball coach for a 4A school in Washington State and had up to 25 student-athletes that I was responsible for.  During the course of those 6 years, I became acutely aware of several factors dealing with high school and junior high sports that spanned type of sport, region, and affluence.  This category will be dedicated to those topics.  My purpose is to help raise awareness of parents, student-athletes, administrators, and the media.  As Denzel Washington’s character (Coach Herman Boone) so eloquently stated in Remember the Titans, “I may be a mean cuss, but I’m the same mean cuss to everyone.”  You may be challenged and even infuriated by my comments, that’s fine.  Here is your forum to agree, disagree, argue and vent.  Just remember to keep your composure and that I do have the “home-field advantage,” giving me the right to delete any comments that are lascivious, vile, or slanderous.  This is after all, a G-rated blog!

Today’s Topic is my Open Letter to High School Parents of Athletes

Dear Parents:

Your kids want you to shut up and enjoy watching them play.

In the past 15 years, I’ve seen a marked deterioration of sportsmanship and respect from fans attending their kid’s high school games. Doesn’t matter the sport – I’ve attended countless basketball, football, baseball, softball, and volleyball games since 1997 at both junior high and high school levels.  It doesn’t matter the affluence or education of parents.  For some strange reason, highly intelligent, enlightened, and well-mannered adults outside of an athletic facility turn into a regular Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde inside of it.  It makes me wonder if Robert Louis Stevenson attended a youth cricket contest somewhere in Scotland where the parents got out of hand and received inspiration for his famed novel.

If you think I exaggerate, test me.  Go to a high school game where you don’t have a dog in the hunt.  Don’t watch the game – watch the parents.  It would be comical if it wasn’t so sad.  I actually had one of my players once tell me that “parents ruin sports.”

So with that admonition in mind, let me give you my 9 “Best Practices” for parents. By the way, most of these have been observed AFTER I left coaching.  When I coached, I rarely heard anything from the stands. I only got details later (usually from the kids). It was when I became an announcer and a fan that I was staggered with the behavior:

  1. Your kid has a coach so stop shouting instruction from the bleachers.  Feel free to clap, groan, be empathetic, and simply cheer the success.  But stop giving instructions on how to shoot, pitch, tackle, or run.  And for goodness sakes, stop shouting out strategy.  You may be sending a message that is opposite of what the coach wants.
  2. Just because you played the game doesn’t mean you’re an expert.  I know that may be a tough pill to swallow for some of you, but it’s the truth.  Having an opinion on the efficacy of playing man-to-man defense versus a zone is fine; however calling the coach an idiot in front of your kid and the crowd doesn’t do any good for anyone.
  3. The referees/umpires are NOT out to get your kid or the team (For best results – Repeat three times).  They are not always good; in fact sometimes they are really bad.  However, they really don’t care who wins the game and who your kid is.  In fact, they are human (debunking a myth among parents) and they might actually not give your team or coach the “benefit of the doubt” in close plays after they’ve been blasted with verbal abuse.
  4. Don’t re-live every minute or inning of the game for your kid.  They don’t want to.  Take them out for ice cream (win or lose).  Tell them how much you enjoy watching them play.  Heck, thank them for giving you the opportunity to spend time watching them have fun.  I actually had a kid stay in the gym shooting around after a game until I was done calling the newspapers.  I was the last one there (or so I thought) and found her shooting baskets in an almost dark gym.  I asked her why she were still there.  She said she was waiting as late as she could to go home so maybe her father would be in bed and she wouldn’t have to talk about the game.  How tragic.
  5. Don’t embarrass your kid. They may not invite you back.  They may also grow to hate the game and quit.
  6. Don’t be a “know-it-all” for your kid.  You know why lacrosse has gained so much momentum in the west coast as a high school sport?  Because the kids know their parents don’t understand the sport and have to simply watch the game.
  7. Don’t poison your kid at home.  Too may young athletes are told by their parents that the coach is terrible, the other players aren’t passing them the ball, they “deserve” better treatment – you get the idea.  You are simply poisoning your kid and the team.  You’ve heard of “cancers on a team” in the pros?  There can be cancers on a high school team and they are usually triggered by you.
  8. The other parents think you’re obnoxious.  Like most things, the majority of parents are there to enjoy their kid playing.  It’s the 10% who are loud, boisterous, and cantankerous.  Remember, I’m not talking about those who positively cheer on the team.  I’m talking about those who incessantly blather loudly through the entire game making all those around them miserable.
  9. Have fun.  This is the most important.  Just like a game, you don’t get the “clock” back on your life.  Don’t spend your later years wishing for a mulligan.  Make sure your kid enjoys their experience and at the same time, make this time a highlight of your life.

Now, before you get all hot and bothered too much, this is a synopsis of years of watching and coaching sports.  If you just saw me at a game last week, don’t assume I’m talking about you.  However, if you look in the mirror and can see yourself in my examples, I implore you to make a change before it’s too late.

If you don’t stop this boorish behavior, you risk alienating your kid, harming your reputation, and losing the opportunity to enjoy what should be wonderful memories.  However, if you commit to implementing my 9 best practices, you will find that you will have more fun, your kid will enjoy you being there, and the pressure of the games completely dissipate.

And, as Forrest Gump once said, “That’s all I have to say about that…”

Dan

© 2010 Dan Weedin – All Rights Reserved