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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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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What Do You Do For Kids After 3:30?

You can learn so many things in a school

What’s happening in school.  What’s happening out of school.  Who’s dating whom.  Who just broke up with whom by text (welcome to what I consider an extremely bleak and odd future).

If you listen closely between classes, you could probably learn the true identity of D.B. Cooper (kids are smarter than you think).

Of course, most of the stuff I overhear from kids makes me say “Huh?”.

Which is a whole lot better than the things I overhear that make me say “Eww.”

The key is to listen, but not listen too closely (How to Be a School Administrator 101).

Once in a while, I feel like my time in the hallway is extra productive.

These are the times when I gain real tidbits of knowledge.

It could be from a student or a teacher.  But there are definitely things said that make me smarter.

Some might argue this isn’t too difficult.

I would tend to agree.

One day in the not so distant past, I asked a coach if he was actually a teacher during the day, or simply a coach waiting for his next game to begin.

Without hesitating, he said he was a teacher who coaches, not a coach who teaches.

I thought that was a great answer.  Especially, since he didn’t hesitate (plus, he seemed a little annoyed… which is a good sign).

Then he said something that made me smarter.

He said “Instead of asking about what I do during the day, maybe you should be asking what other teachers do after 3:30 to make kids better.”

Coaches commit hours to students after school and on weekends (as do other teachers).

He made a good point.

It’s not good enough that we just give our best during the school day.

The teaching profession is becoming more and more of a 24 hour a day job.

Whether we like it or not, we have to do more for students to help them be successful.

Which means,  all of us have to not only give our best during the school day, but also after 3:30.

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Name Game.

What’s the odds?And You Are???

My high school basketball coaches:  Coach Shurtz and Coach Bottoms (get it… shirts and bottoms).

My wife’s first principal and superintendent:  Mr. Butts and Mr. Bottom (this one is self-explanatory).

Is there any doubt we were meant to be together?

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Forget the Game, Watch the Parents.

This morning I noticed something while watching my daughter’s soccer game.

It occurred to me that the parents are far more interesting to watch than the game itself. Of course, I had time to let my mind wander because my kid was busy catching her breath after running semi-hard for nearly 14 straight seconds.

She was alternating between grasping her chest and wiping her forehead. This sounds like I am picking on her, but this was during warm-ups.

For a moment, I thought she might get sick but then I realized that would take effort (in her defense before the game she did walk to the car by herself… while carrying her Nintendo DS… that is what we call progress).

She needed a break and the coach needed a player who didn’t think they were going to pass out.

While she got a much needed (in her mind) rest on the sidelines, I started to notice the parents around me.>Soccer.  I Just Don’t Get It.

And by around me, I mean the ones within 25 yards of my general area.

You see, as a highly trained school administrator, I know that the keys to enjoying an athletic event are: don’t stand or sit with the parents, don’t make eye-contact, and most definitely don’t engage anyone in small talk.

My wife thinks I am a loner. I have no idea where she comes up with these crazy ideas, but I wish she would get away from me (it’s a joke).

The thing that struck me about the parents was that you could break them into 3 distinct groups.

The first group would be parents like my wife and I. I am going to refer to them as the Observers.

They are at the game to support all the kids on the team.

They are thrilled that their child is participating and not growing even lazier by watching the Saturday SpongeBob SquarePants marathon.

They are not screamers. You won’t catch them threatening the referee or coach. In fact, they are probably ecstatic that another parent volunteered to coach so they can take a season off (that would be me).

These parents cheer for the kids and the good plays from both teams. In their eyes, athletics is a way to get exercise, learn discipline, and be part of a team.

Good hearted, hardworking, tax-paying people like myself (at least that is what I like to believe… they may be just stopping by the game before they go pick up water and beef jerky for their compound).

The second type of parent are the ones I like to call the Obnoxiously Loud Ones.

They are much more into the game than the Observers. They cheer/scream for the good plays and complain/scream to anyone within listening distance about the bad ones.

From time to time, they will yell directions to their kid (and by time to time, I mean every 3 seconds). They feel the need to share knowledge that they picked up from their time sitting on the bench when they played sports in junior high.

They don’t coach the team because that would cut into their time second guessing the person who is.

Usually, these are very nice people. They are very supportive of their children.

They want to win and if their team doesn’t, it is obviously the referees fault.

Nice people, but just like the animals at the zoo they are best observed from a distance.

The last group are the ones that worry me.

They are the Insane Ones Who Have No Concept of Reality.

If you make the mistake of striking up a conversation with them, you are in for 45 minutes of listening to “when they played” conversation.

They have very interesting stories about high school. Too bad, all of these things happened 29 years ago. Which isn’t bad, except nothing else exciting has happened to them since?


These are people who not only cheer for their kids and yell at the ref, but they live for the next game.

They have all of the qualities of the Obnoxiously Loud ones mixed in with a just a dash of Crazy (and by dash, I mean boatload).

They are excited. At the game. Before the game. Driving to the game (with painted windows on their vehicle). And at work 6 days in advance of the game.

They think about the game. A lot. In fact, all the time.

The love it. Sometimes a little too much.

They are positive their child will receive a full-ride athletic scholarship. Or win a gold medal in the Olympics. Or at the very least, start every game in high school, win numerous MVP awards, be
named Homecoming King or Queen, and get their picture in the newspaper at least 5 times a week.

They were legends (in their own minds) and the child will carry on this tradition. Just ask them (but, really don’t).

When you break it down, all parents fit into 1 of the 3 groups.

If you don’t believe me watch the parents at the next game you attend.

Just don’t make the mistake of engaging them in conversation. Unless, of course you want to hear about the game winning shot they made in the semi-finals of the JV basketball tournament in which they dominated in 1981.

I heard it was amazing.

Actually, I overheard it. Remember, I don’t get that close.

Especially after this blog.

LATE ADDITION: It has been pointed out to me that I have forgotten a 4th group of parents. The VideoTapers. They are the ones who miss out on watching every event that their child participates in because they are too busy trying to tape it for later viewing. Which brings up the question… who really wants to “rewatch” a 7 year old’s soccer or t-ball game?

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School Administrators Joke #1: How Coaches Become Principals.

This is a brand new feature on

Jokes about us.

We can’t take ourselves too seriously…You Make a Horse Laugh and You've Done Something.

because we have to realize, they (and by they, I mean everyone… remember a little paranoia keeps you sharp and on your toes) are not laughing with us, but at us.

I came up with this feature just moments ago as I sprinted (I mean ran… I mean jogged… actually, to be honest it is more of a walk/shuffle) through my daily (sometimes daily, often it is more of a few times a week) exercise program.

A few days ago, someone (a.k.a. @tjshay via twitter) sent my wife this joke about principals. I had heard it before, but had forgotten it (because I am so busy, I can’t remember everything… or possibly I am just old and forgetful).

The joke.

“Qualifications to be a Principal. A Master’s Degree and two consecutive losing seasons.”

Makes me smile every time I think about it.

Probably because in so many cases it is true. Let it be noted…my last season of coaching resulted in the kids having a winning season (I say kids because it was all them… very little of me).

I like to think I have a great sense of timing. Get out right before things go bad. Don’t overstay your coaching welcome. Leave on a winning note. Let the next coach deal with the rebuilding.

So that is what I did. I saw the writing on the wall. I got out. The very next season the kids had a record of 24 and 5.

I have said it before, but it deserves repeating. I am an idiot.

As usual, the joke was on me.

True story: I met a gentleman from Texas who got “promoted” to high school principal after having 2 losing seasons in a row as head football coach. The “promotion” came with a $7,000 pay cut.

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The Day I Almost Died in the School Parking Lot.

I Had No Chance.I live in a part of the country where the weather has been perfect for the last 2 days.

This has been wonderful considering it has been cold, windy, and rainy for the past 147 straight days. It may have been 148, but I have lost track.

For whatever reason, yesterday’s perfect San Diego type weather reminded me of a cold icy day 11 years ago (don’t ask me why the nicest day of 2008 causes me to remember a nasty day 11 years ago because I really don’t know, it just did).

On that particular day, I was running late for a 6:30 am junior high basketball practice.

I can assure you this wasn’t and isn’t like me.

People are either born with the running late gene, or the arriving early gene. Lucky for me, I have the arriving early one.

Except for that day.

This was a problem. Because you see (or read) as the coach , I was adamant about the players never being late to a practice. It seemed as if they were letting the whole team down by doing so.

And if one of them was even 2 seconds late, the entire team had to run. A lot. And by a lot, I mean until I got tired of watching them. And back then, my stamina level for watching people run was at a world class level.

Sadly, I had forgotten to put a rule in place on what would happen if I was late, or if I forgot to set my alarm, or on the worst of all days, both.

When I woke up, I realized that all of my preaching to the team about responsibility (and double-checking your alarm) was about to haunt me.

So I jumped in my clothes and raced out of our palatial 200 square foot apartment (newly married, poor, and yet we thought we had it made because for the first time in our lives we could afford to have a pizza delivered… once a week… if the finances were carefully monitored during the preceding 6 days).

I had about a 26 minute drive to get to school and I was on pace to make it in 9.

Until the flashing red lights came up from behind.

Just as I thought my situation had taken a turn for the worse, I caught a much needed break.

In my side mirror I noticed the policeman was my principal’s son (as my daughter would say… Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet).

He walked up to the car and I politely explained what had happened. I went through the whole story and at the end added that I really needed to get to school so the youngsters would not be unattended and locked out of the gym on this cold and miserable day.

I really poured it on, but yet I kept my ace in the hole for the very end of the story.

I had him eating out of the palm of my hand. The lad was no match for my superior intelligence and wit.

And then I laid it on him. “By the way, I work for your dad.” I could kiss that speeding ticket goodbye.

Or so I thought.

His response was, “That’s nice. I will be back with your ticket.”


I was late. The team was going to eat me alive. And I was a brand new owner of a speeding ticket for which I had no money to pay (see 200 square foot apartment… plus even worse I just knew there would be no pizza delivery that week).

The good news was I arrived at practice in one piece, barely.

You see, when I finally got there, I jumped out of the car so I could run into the gym.

Sadly, I didn’t notice the patch of ice until it was too late. And by too late, I mean I did 14 complete summersaults and then finished by sticking the landing (by sticking the landing I mean my behind, back, and head crashed into the pavement/ice).

I really had a dilemma now. I was late. I was a lot poorer. I was soon to be hungry. And now possibly hurt… badly.

This is the exact moment I knew that I was no longer a kid, but an adult.

I had fallen and it was 50/50 whether I could get up.

Unfortunately, no one saw me crash into the ground. I was on my own. Why is there never a cop around when you actually need one?

At that point (after I came to), I picked up my clipboard and whistle, what was left of my dignity, and made my way into the gym.

There l came face to face with 25 sets of little beady eyes staring right at me. I hadn’t felt this bad since… well, since I busted my behind 30 seconds earlier (or 12 minutes… who can keep track of time when you’ve blacked out).

What was I to do? I was late. And if you are late, you run.

So I ran. Actually limped would be a better description. I think the kids thought I was faking an injury. And I might have been. But it wasn’t a leg injury like they thought, it was a possible head injury.

If they had only been around to see me fall (and more importantly, help me up).

Moral of this story and possibly the keys to life: double-check your alarm, drive slowly, don’t try to outsmart the police, watch where you step, follow your own rules, and save your money for a rainy day (or pizza).

And most importantly (and I know I have said this before, but it bears repeating), you are officially old when you fall and you don’t care who sees you because having help to get up is the most important thing.

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Never Yell “COACH” in a Crowded Principal’s Meeting.

I was asked the other day why so many coaches become principals. This got me thinking. After much thought (actually none), I have come to an intelligent theory (actually more of a guess than an intelligent theory).

Over the course of the last few years, I have had an opportunity to meet a lot of principals and through a totally unscientific study I believe 35% are now ex-principals.

This is for a variety of reasons, but the #1 cause is that I don’t think people actually know what qualities are required to make a good administrator. So consequently schools are hiring the wrong types of people.

But you are in luck; I have a theory (I can almost hear people rolling their eyes as I write this).I Only Owned 2 Ladders.

In all of the good principals that I know, they all have one major thing in common. They don’t care.

Suddenly, I have your attention (I bet you’re sorry you rolled your eyes- apology accepted).

Let me clarify; they don’t care what people think of them. A lot of people say they don’t care, but it takes a certain type of character flaw to really not care.

And what makes this character flaw even more challenging is that it can’t be taught. You can’t pick up the “I don’t care” gene in a graduate class, a good mentor can’t teach you, and you certainly can’t fake it (always remember that kids are like dogs- they sense fear and weakness).

When school boards interview for a new principal they confuse themselves by looking for experience, organization, people skills, good leadership qualities, and high grades on a college transcript.

If you are ever looking for a principal, don’t fall into this trap. Keep your eye on the ball and look for someone who doesn’t care (ball, coaches in the title- I crack myself up).

A good principal can care about the kids, the school, the curriculum, the teachers, and the staff- but they can never ever care what people think of them.

I do have to admit that this can be somewhat challenging.

Everyone has a mortgage and car payment so it is important to stay employed. But when you begin to make decisions based on what others think of you, the end is near.

This brings me back to coaches. Why are so many administrators ex-coaches?

There are several plausible theories to consider.

One is that they have families to support and they can’t afford to coach the JV football team for $700 when their kids will be going to college in 8 years. In review, everyone has bills.

Another is that coaches have summers off and after a few years, they usually wander over to the local college and take administrative classes (you can only play so much golf and paint so many houses).

But I think the real reason coaches become administrators is slightly more complex (look at that, I just used the words coaches and complex in the same sentence).

Coaches are comfortable being in charge, giving directions, getting second-guessed/yelled at, and working long hours.

If they weren’t born with the “I don’t care” gene, after 10 years of coaching it is now ingrained into them.

If you have this character flaw, you have a chance. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, tall or short, mean or nice, but somewhere in the deep recesses of your personality, you must not care.

Technically, you don’t even have to have been a coach, but it helps. There are a few chosen ones who have been blessed with this “I don’t care” gift from a higher authority.

Now granted, this gene doesn’t make you the nicest person on staff, but if does give you the protective armor to allow yourself a chance at being successful once hired as a principal.

That is why you never yell “Coach” in a Principal’s meeting. 80% of the people will turn around and 65% of which won’t care.

The other 35%- we hardly knew you.

As a former coach, any disrespect to coaches in this article was purely for the sake of humor (or attempted humor). I still think it is an honor for someone to address me as “Coach”. I will take that over “Mr.” any day of the week. And I sure do miss painting houses.

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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.