Youth Sports Spelled Backward is Stressful.


Or maybe it’s stropshtuoy.Stress Makes Me Old.  Older.

No matter how it’s spelled, it’s way more stressful than I ever imagined.

I coached for a long time.

Some people would say way too long (by some… I mean all).

As a school administrator, I’ve had to throw my share of over-zealous parents out of games for griping at the referees and coaches.

Or both (and honestly, if you’re about to be tossed out of a gymnasium in front of your peers you might as well yell at everyone).

My assumption was these people were insane.

Who gets so caught up in a child’s game that they have to be removed by a mild-manner kind-hearted person like me?

I was wrong.  We are all insane.

At least when it comes to watching our kids.

It’s in our genes (in my first draft I spelled this "jeans" which is actually funnier).

It’s easy to lose perspective when your child loses.  Or fails.  Or doesn’t get to play.

I’ve known for a long time that The Evil Spawn’s childhood would not go smoothly.

I anticipated visits from the local police.  Long chats with the District Attorney.

Neck tattoos.  Numerous piercings.  Fake IDs.  Boyfriends 35 years older than her.

I knew there would be late night car chases.  Liquor store robberies.  And various other crimes that I hoped would always be misdemeanors.

After all, what kind of father would I be if my only daughter was committing felonies?

What I didn’t count on was the pain and suffering of watching her grow up and being effected by the decisions of other adults (not in law enforcement).

Coaches.  Umpires.

Evil, evil people.

No one told me at the hospital when she was hatched, how challenging this time of her life could be.

I had no idea the pain and suffering one has to go through while sitting in a lawn chair watching her attempt to hit a softball (by the way… there is NO WAY that first pitch was a strike!!!).

Life is bound to get simplier when she is 16.  Or 17.  Or 18.

It will won’t it?

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Your Child is Not Going to Be a Professional Athlete.


Another summer.They Are Kids.

Another year of watching parents put unrealistic expectations on their child.

Here are the facts.

Most kids won’t play sports in high school.

Almost every kid won’t play sports in college.

There’s almost no chance you will know anyone who plays professional sports.

Your child has a better chance of being a brain surgeon than playing baseball for the Cardinals, basketball for the Lakers, or football for the Cowboys.

If you weren’t a great athlete, the odds of your child being one are slim to none.

There’s no amount of practice, coaching, or throwing money at the situation that will improve your sons or daughters enough if they aren’t born with special athetic abilities.

Also, screaming at the umpire or referee won’t help.  They really aren’t there to keep your child from being successful (note to self).

The truth is if you were an average athlete, your child will likely be an average athlete.

Parents who are 5 foot 8, seldom have children who are 6 foot 7.  If you were slow, guess what.

If you got cut from your junior high team, don’t plan on your son or daughter participating in the Olympics.

This doesn’t mean kids shouldn’t participate in sports.

It doesn’t mean they have to be great to play.

It just means parents need to be realistic.

The truth is, when your child is 40 no one cares if they hit the ball, scored a basket, or even played when they were 7.

Sit in your lawn chair and enjoy it.

That’s it.  That’s all there is.

There’s no college scholarship or huge contract coming your way.

Just ice cream after the game.  And that’s good enough.

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Why Exactly Do We Want Fans?


The Evil Spawn loves sports

I used to.

I don’t remember the exact date my relationship changed with athletics, but it was around the time I became a principal.

That’s when I started watching the crowd instead of the game.

No longer was I focusing on the players.

Now I got to spend hours and hours watching people scream. 

Scream at the game.  The referees.  The coaches.  The scorekeeper.  The players.  And on very special occasions when they just couldn’t take it anymore… each other.

I’ve never understood this.

If you ask parents (and grandparents), they will tell you they love their children’s games.  They look forward to them.

They plan their schedules so they can be there.  They make sacrifices to get their children to practices.  They commit their hard-earned money to shoes and equipment.

Yet, as I look up into the crowd I don’t see a lot of happiness and smiles.

I see anger, paranoia, nerves, and bitterness.

Why is this?

Why can’t people take athletics for what they are.

They are a moment in time.  They are life.

And just like life, they don’t always turn out the way you want.

Sports should be used as a teaching opportunity on how to deal with success.  And failure.

How to get along with others.  How to find your place in a situation bigger than yourself. 

How to lose (and just for the record… losing is okay).

Kids should grow up and only have wonderful memories from their time participating in athletics.

They shouldn’t leave the experience with a headache from all the screaming.

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It Seems Easier to Be a Great Person After Death Than Before.


I don’t usually write about anything other than education topics.

This is because I realize my limitations are great (in far too many areas to list here).

I’m pretty sure I barely have a concept about what is happening within education. I’m also positive I have no concept about anything else. 

But occasionnally something bugs me and I’m fascinated to know if it bothers anyone else.

Today it’s Whitney Houston’s death.

I remember when she was a big star.  Maybe the biggest.

I remember the albums (casettes), movies (VHS), and the National Anthem at the Super Bowl (sorry Buffalo).

She was rich and famous.  And evidently miserable.

Her life became complicated (but whose isn’t).

I’m not judging her, but I do have a question.

As I watch TV and cruise the interweb, it seems like the focus is on how great she was and what a terrific talent has been lost.

I’m sure this is true.

But I’m always amazed how no one ever dies with bad qualities.

We always remember the best in people, but what about everything else?  What about the kids?  And in the future, her grandkids?

What has her behavior done to them?

It was great she could sing, but she had a more important job.

You see this same type of situation happening far too often in schools.

An adult’s life (for a variety of reasons) has a traumatic effect on their children.  You can just see the kids being set up for a more complicated life than any of us can imagine. 

And while educators can help at school , we can’t always help them when they’re not in school.

I don’t think Whitney Houston was a bad person.  But I do think for all of her talent, her lasting impression on the world will be how her child raises her kids.

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My Daughter Hates School. I Did Not See That Coming.


The Evil Spawn has officially announced she doesn’t like going to school.She's Sleepy.

By officially, I mean she said it in the car when we were traveling back from yet another evening of supervising an athletic contest (as the child of a school administrator… she was born into the family business of sports supervision).

Her statement was short and to the point.  "Dad, I don’t want to go to school anymore."

This led to my rebuttal which was a long-winded rambling sometimes incoherent monologue about how hard I work and did she realize there are days when I don’t want to trudge into the office at 7:00 am and work until10:00 at night.

After about 27 minutes of hearing myself talk (she stopped listening pretty early on), I realized there must be more to her story.

She likes her friends.  Sports.  Reading.  Playing on her iPad.  Writing.  Corndog Thursday.  Math and science.  Assemblies.

And sleep.

Lots and lots of sleep.

School?  Not so much.

But she used to love it.

Turns out after only 5 years of education, she has decided she’s not a big fan of the daily grind of nearly 8 hours a day of sitting in a desk (of course… minus passing periods, homeroom, lunch, study hall, PE, library, computers, and music/art).

This worries me.

It’s weird because she loves to learn.

She likes the History Channel.  You Tube.  Discovering new things on the Interweb.  Going to the public library.

But sitting in class she finds a little boring.

It’s not her teachers.  She loves them (there are at least 3 on her Mt. Rushmore of Important People who have impacted her life… sadly, Buddy the Dog and I didn’t make it…).

In the teachers’ defense, they just can’t go fast enough.

Public schools are set up to teach to the middle.

And I think they should.  We’re in the business of producing taxpayers and good citizens who know how to stand in line and wait their turns.

We aren’t there to push the top 20%.  We count on colleges to do that.

I’m okay with this, but I do worry why a 10 year old who loved school has started to go the other way.

Maybe it’s just a phase.  Maybe she’s just starting to transition from tween to angry and bitter teenager (and if my mediocre parenting keeps up… one day, a angry bitter sarcastic adult).

Maybe she still loves school, but this is her way of fitting in with the other kids and slightly rebelling against the man (by the way… there’s a good chance I might be the man).

I may have no idea how the mind of a pre-teen girl works (actually, I’m pretty sure I don’t know how the mind of a pre-teen girl works).

But I do know, I miss the little person in my house who eats all my food who used to fly out of bed on school days because she didn’t want to miss a thing.

I just wish I knew for sure if it was her or if it’s us.

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Parents and Coaches See Things From Different Perspectives.


coachhatEveryone has a tendency to see the world from their own unique perspective.

Democrats see it one way.

Republicans see it another.

It doesn’t make them wrong.

Actually, it makes both sides wrong and absolutely clueless, but that’s another blog (is a Moderate 3rd Party too much to ask for?)

Students see the world differently than teachers.

Young adults have different ideas and views than older ones.

It’s good to have diversity of opinions.

You see it in music.  Every generation is drawn towards a new (and usually louder) style.

Every prom since 1900, parents have been convinced the world is about to end because of the inappropriate way teenagers dance (personally, I blame Glenn Miller, Elvis, Axl Rose, and Lady GaGa).

Of course, they’ve all forgotten how disturbed their parents were when they danced (little heathens).

But these differences are good.

They’re what makes the world go round (actually it’s love).

I see the same thing with parents and coaches.

They couldn’t be more opposite in how they view things.

And by things, I mean playing time.

Coaches aren’t perfect (trust me, I was one…  in a life far far away).

But all coaches are generally trying to accomplish the same goal.  They want to win (and of course, help produce upstanding citizens who pay taxes, obey laws, and mow their lawns).

They may not play the same players we would, but they believe they’re being as fair as possible.

Seldom are they not giving someone a chance because it’s part of a sinister master plan.

Parents see things from a different angle.

Usually the same angle they first viewed during childbirth (which by the way… wasn’t the most pleasant sight for me…).

They are locked in on their own kid, sort of oblivious to everything else (and all the other people’s children).

I came up with this theory (and thousands of other ones) over the course of talking to hundreds of parents.

I’ve yet to meet the mom or dad who is upset because the coach plays their child TOO much.

After all of these conversations about how a coach is ruining everything (i.e. college scholarship), I’ve yet to hear the following even once.

My child shouldn’t be starting.  My child shouldn’t get so many__________ (shots, serves, at-bats, carries, receptions, goals, hits, spikes, chances, opportunities, etc.).

I’m still waiting for the parent who requests a coach who yells more, practices less, and pays little or no attention to their kid.

I keep thinking after all of these years, I will eventually run into someone who sees what the coach sees.

But it’s never happened and probably never will, but I guess that’s okay.

The coach shouldn’t see things the same way parents do.

After all, the parents were at the hospital the day their child was born and the coach was probably at practice.

And those are two way different jobs.

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Raising Students and My Kid.


Being a school administrator isn’t easy.

From the kindergarten student who cries for no apparent reason to the odd smell emanating from the boys’ locker room, each day brings new and sometimes gross challenges (on behalf of the 1980’s, I want to say we don’t use the word “gross” often enough anymore).

Now, I’m not complaining (maybe a little about that smell…), because I realize every profession has its ups and down.

I was reading online (so you know it’s true) that only 45% of people are satisfied with their jobs.  That’s down from 61% in 1987.Fork

I don’t know if I believe this or not.

What I do believe is 55% of people (at least) like to complain.

About their jobs.

And bosses.

And paychecks.

And lack of benefits.

And everything else in their lives.

I think this is human nature.

Me?  I like having a job.  Any job.

I prefer ones that pay well, but I’ve also enjoyed my jobs that didn’t.

I would definitely count myself in the group of 45% who are satisfied.

But I do have one complaint.

There’s not always enough time to do my job at school, my job at home, and accomplish other things.

This week I had a choice.  Help build a school in the Dominican Republic or coach the Evil Spawn’s basketball team.

Seems like an easy choice.

Build the school.  Make the world a better place.

It’s a no brainer.

Especially if you’ve seen the Evil Spawn miss a layup (she’s killing me!).

Except for the fact I always wonder if I’m spending too much time helping raise other people’s kids and not enough time on my own.

I’m guessing if you ask the evil one, she would say  a break from me would be a wonderful thing (in fact, she’s mentioned this a time or two… or 957).

But I still wonder, so I passed on the construction project (I hope I get another chance).

The building a school/basketball games is an extreme example, but I think all educators are faced with similar decisions on a daily basis.

How do you balance raising your kid and still be totally committed to helping other people raise theirs?

Maybe I shouldn’t worry about this.  Maybe I should focus on what I can control.  Like that smell.  It’s a combination of feet, old yogurt, and cat food.  It’s really quite disturbing.

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Facebook is Bad News for Schools.


no-facebook1

If you are employed by a school you probably have some challenges.

The goofy kids.

Test scores.

Finances.

More goofy kids.

Parents.

Parents of goofy kids.

Goofy parents of goofy kids (although personally, I’ve never had any of these).

Since there have been schools, there have been administrators.  Which means there have been challenges for administrators at school.

It’s part of the job (Note to new principals:  not everyone is going to love you… sorry you had to hear it here first).

And the truth is, without problems, most of us would be without jobs.

This is why I consider the challenges at school to be job security (most days, I have a LOT of security).

But as I grow older (and I seem to every day), I’m starting to see changes for school administrators.

Yes, I’m turning into that person who pines for the good old days of 2006.

The biggest 3 changes I’ve seen since I started in this profession are:  mandated testing, finances, and decaying of good will towards teachers.

None of these are good.

The worst one is probably how our country feels about teachers (it’s sad really).

But even with these tough hills to climb, there is something I see as possibly an even bigger pain in the caboose (I think I just dated myself with my reference to train cars that no longer exist).

It’s Facebook.

I hate Facebook.

And I know less about Facebook than I do about trains. 

And I don’t really hate Facebook because we’ve never officially met.

I’m sure Facebook has good qualities.  Just like the goofy kids (they do grow out of it… eventually).

The challenge I see for school administrators isn’t with students and Facebook.  It’s with rumors and Facebook.

People like excitement.

People like rumors.

And people really like exciting rumors.

Facebook makes it easy.

When I first started working in schools, if people didn’t like you or a decision you made they had to express themselves in person.

In your office.

Or on the phone.

Maybe an angry letter in the newspaper (again… the good old days).

Now they can do it on the interweb using Facebook.

And the worst part, it doesn’t have to be true. 

People can say anything.  Or worse, they can type anything.

The more exciting and untrue, the more interesting  for others.

This isn’t good.  Especially when people are typing at 2:30 in the morning (never good…never ever good).

In fact, it’s bad for school administrators.

It makes a difficult job almost impossible.

Maybe I will see the day where people type nice things on Facebook in the middle of the night.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Because the goofy kids of today will probably be the Facebookers of tomorrow.

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Nightmare or Dream?


My internal blogging clock has been a little off the last couple of months.

Normally, something clicks in my head (normally a voice… oddly in a Scottish accent) every 3 or 4 days that tells me it’s time to write (?) another blog.

But lately, I’ve been a little busy.

Writing a movie?Let's Hope It Turns Out to Be a Dream.

No.

Writing the great American novel?

Definitely not because this would require some sort of understanding of the English language.

Training for the running (i.e. walking) of a half-marathon.

Yes.  But that’s not why I’ve been busy.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t take long to jog 12 steps then bend over and gasp for what feels like my final breath.

I’m busier than usual because I’ve taken a new job.

I will be leaving my present school district after 16 years.  Or as I like to think of it, 37% of my life (if you want to know how truly OLD I am… do the math).

When I started teaching, I was an idiot.  Now that I’m leaving, I’m a little less of an idiot (although going from teacher/coach to principal and then superintendent may very well qualify me as an idiot of almost Biblical proportions).

Why am I leaving?

Good question.

I’m leaving, before they chase me out.  This is a much underrated key to success in the workforce.

Leave before they tell you to leave.

Leave before they start circling your half-dead body like a buzzard.

But that’s a different blog.

I’m really leaving because I have someplace else to go (duh).

Where am I going?

Wait for it… wait… wait…

I’m going…

…to the Evil Spawn’s school district.

Yes, the Spawn and I are combining forces (that’s a lot of sarcasm in one place).

She thinks it’s a good idea.  I’m not so sure.

I don’t worry about me, but I can envision how it could be a challenge for her.

She will either love having her father wander in and out of every aspect of her life, or hate it.

But what better time to launch this grand experiment than moments before she hits her awkward teenage years.

Timing is everything!

What could possibly go wrong?

Now I will have the best of both worlds.  Watching her slam the bedroom door at home and watching her slam the locker door at school.

I’m a lucky man.

I hope she feels the same when this is all over.

As an added bonus, I will be two minutes from Buddy’s house (which used to be called “my house”).

Lunch with Buddy.

That will be nice.

And it may be the only peace and quiet I get.

The good news is she’s growing up fast and I get a front row seat.  The bad news is she’s growing up fast and I get a front row seat.

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Parents: It’s Just a Game.


The following are Hockey Canada Public Service Announcements.

They should be required viewing by parents.

And it wouldn’t hurt coaches to watch.

Because nothing brings out the “Idiot Gene” like athletics (or any extracurricular).

It’s amazing how silly these comments seem coming out of kid’s mouths.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Disclaimer

While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.