“Coach, Don’t Put My Kid in the Game. We are Trying to Win.”


The Agony of Defeat.Am I the only one who may yell at their child’s coach about too much playing time?

I always tell my daughter that it is up to the coach to decide who plays and how much.

I will never complain about her not starting or playing enough. I have seen these situations a 1000 times with parents and coaches. I will never ever be a part of this.

Coaches want to win, so I believe they will play whoever gives them the best chance to accomplish this.

So, you will never be able to include me in that group of pushy parents who demand their child plays more.

Now playing too much, that is a different story.

As my only child has started her athletic career, I have tried to teach her that pressure is a privilege.

It is an honor to be the one who is up to bat in the last inning with the game tied, the player shooting what could be the winning free throw, or the one playing goalie in the last minute of the game with the outcome hanging in the balance.

In these situations, maybe she succeeds, maybe she fails.

As long as she has prepared herself and tries her best, who really cares about the outcome?

Me, that’s who.

I want to win.

You play… to win… the game.

Sure, sportsmanship is nice, but it is seldom the lead story in the newspaper (or on their website… it is 2008 after all).

I want some payback for working with her in the back yard, driving her to practice, and shelling out all of this money for uniforms, shoes, participation fees, and hair bands (why can’t a girl get along with just 1, or 72… why do they have to have 643 of them in different colors with various amounts of sparkly stuff?).

With the game on the line, I don’t want to see her on the field or court.

The coach says he can count on her. He barely knows her. I have a long standing relationship with my child (began about 9 months before her birth) and I realize that she is a loose cannon.

She can’t be counted on… I have seen her room. She has failed on that simple task over and over. What makes the coach think she can perform with the game on the line?

She can’t even hang up her towel after a shower.

How can she be expected to make the winning basket, when she can’t get her dirty clothes in the hamper?

The coach wants her to play goalie and stop a soccer ball coming right at her head. She shrieks when a fly lands on her arm.

You don’t want her in the game with the pressure on.

At least I don’t.

It makes me nervous. Really nervous.

And it is not like she needs the experience. As if there is a full-ride scholarship to a Division I university in her future.

Best case, the truck driving school she attends will have some sort of intramural program.

The coach should at least be courteous enough to tell me before he has the brainstorm to send her into the game.

At least with some advance warning, I could go sit in the car or at least look away.

Turns out, I can’t take the pressure.

And it isn’t a privilege for a parent.

So coach, consider yourself officially notified. Do whatever you have to, just don’t use my kid.

Let some other parent sit there with butterflies in his or her stomach.

I want to win.

And you don’t want me yelling at you during the game about too much playing time.

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Take My Advice; If a Coach Throws a Basketball at Your Head, Duck.


Duck!!!I was reminded this week of an incident that happened to me when I was attempting to play high school basketball (attempting is the key word to focus on here).

This story usually pops into my head when adults say, “Kids sure have changed since we were in school.”

I have my answer to that, but first you have to sit through my sad little story.

During my high school basketball career (brief mind you, based on playing time), I was every coach’s dream. A complete player. In my mind, I had all the tools to be great.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t dribble, pass, shoot and I was slow, couldn’t jump, and certainly didn’t rebound. I tried rebounding once. Didn’t like it, so I chose to focus on other aspects of the game at which I was equally as bad.

In my defense, I was always on time for practice and games. I don’t mean to brag, but I was even early on several occasions.

Although as I look back, the coach was probably hoping that I would be late or better yet, not show up at all.

One day in practice, I was playing point guard (playing is probably too strong of a word). Coach told me to run a play and I did my best.

Turns out Coach wasn’t looking for “my best”, he was actually hoping that I could run the play correctly.

He stood underneath the basket holding a ball on his hip. I believe he was wearing those really short gray coaching shorts with the big elastic waistband. Cool at the time, but disturbing today.

As I recall the sequence of events went something like this; Coach calls the play, I run the play incorrectly, Coach yells “Dammit”, I turn my back to him, he wings the basketball at my head trying to knock some sense and hopefully some talent into me.

That is a lot of information in one paragraph, so let’s break down the details.

For years I thought my first name was “Dammit”. I say this because when Coach yelled, that word always preceded my last name.

I never even thought about it at the time, and I certainly never ran home and told my parents. Wouldn’t want Coach any madder than he usually was at me (my advice to kids…you never poke the angry bear with a stick).

Well on that particular day, I decided to take a stand. In retrospect, not the best idea I ever had. I probably wasn’t thinking straight; no doubt from the blow to the head from a basketball zooming at me at 112 miles per hour.

But in the infinite wisdom of a teenager, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Surely, Coach would stop me and apologize. Nope.

Evidently, he also picked that particular day to take a stand. And his stand was “don’t let the door hit you in the behind on the way out of the gym.”

I found myself out in the parking lot in my practice clothes. No choice but to walk home and get some sympathy from the parents.

Another in an unfortunate series of bad ideas.

As I made my way to the house, my dad was mowing the yard. My gut feeling was my day was just about to get worse.

And for the first time on that day, I was right.

He stopped the mower (I later learned that dads don’t like to stop the mower… I wish I had known that little nugget of information before I left practice).

To make a long story short, he wanted to know why I was home. I attempted to tell my sad story about Coach, the blow to the head, and then I was going to ask if my legal name on the birth certificate was “Dammit.”

Turns out he not only didn’t he like stopping the mower, but he didn’t care for the story either. In fact, he didn’t even let me finish.

He cut me off about halfway through and said, “I don’t care what happened, go back to practice and apologize to Coach and see if he will take you back.”

Not exactly the response I was looking for.

There is nothing sadder then a teenage boy schlepping home from quitting practice, except that same boy crawling back to practice 15 minutes later.

I went back. Coach shook his head in disgust (which really didn’t bother me because I had seen that look about 1,216 times before).

I don’t remember exactly what he said but it was something like, “Dammit, you can’t even quit right. Get back in here.”

That was it. I don’t think it was ever spoken about again; at home or with Coach.

No lawyers, no meeting with the Principal, no phone call to the Superintendent, and no special School Board Meeting.

What Coach did wasn’t right, but I was no worse for the wear. I grew up in a world where teachers and coaches were to be respected and sometimes a little feared.

I learned a lot that day that continues to apply to my life.

Run the play right, don’t turn your back; excuses are just that… excuses, dad’s don’t like to be interrupted when mowing, and most of all if someone throws a ball at your head… duck.

So I don’t think kids have changed. Parents have.

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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.