The give and take of coaching

Cory Hurley - A Game of Inches
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There is a lot of give and take involved in coaching.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot taking these days.

That’s doesn’t mean adults are coming into an athletic program and taking, taking, taking for themselves. It means they are coming in and taking it — from parents, teachers and school administrators.

Over the past 10 years or so — at least — there has been a real problem attracting coaches into schools to run their athletic programs. It often falls upon parents who have a child on that team or teachers who want to give back to their students — unfortunately, and no disrespect, they are not the best suited for the role. That leads to poor quality coaching, and does not advance the sport or ability of a lot of the athletes. Thank God they try though. It is definitely better than nothing at all.

As I can see it, the gym teachers throughout the province do a wonderful job of committing to their students. Most of them go above and beyond their jobs, offering their time and effort to multiple teams and grades. George and Jennifer Dolomount are shining examples. Keep it up.

However, the old-school coaches — as I like to call them — are few and far between. The people who have been entrenched in their positions year-after-year, no matter who the players are or how good the team is. Where have the Charlie Barker’s, Tyrone Power’s, Bob Barker’s of the world gone. Great to see Jim Feltham back in Deer Lake, a man who cares nothing more than helping kids and growing the sport of basketball. Corner Brook has coaches like Frank Foo and Tom Stewart in basketball and Nathan Wareham and Finton Gaudette in volleyball, whose sole motivation appears to be for the sport and the kids.

The main reason for the disappearance of coaches is the hassle of the job. “It’s not worth what I have to put up with.” I have heard it many times.

The parents try to be way too involved, complaining about playing time and how hard the coaches make the kids work in practices. The first one, I’m sure has been around forever. Every parent wants the best for their child, and most would fight to get it. However, more and more often, I hear cases of school administrators backing up the parents. The second one, come on. I have heard parents filed complaints with school principals that their child was too tired to do their homework after practice, and the coach was actually told to cut back. Please.

I know school administrators have a job to do. Protect their students, and do what is best and fair for them all. Unless there is a genuine case of abuse or discrimination against players on a team, administration should stay arm’s length from their athletic program. Parents should talk to their coaches, find out what the child needs to improve on to earn more minutes, and the child must then put in the work. As for working hard, suck it up. I have never seen anything wrong with a young man or woman in good condition.

The role for a school administrator, whether it is through their gym teacher or not, is to make sure the right person is in place to run a team in the beginning. I can assure you that is not always the case. After the coach is selected, he or she must be able to do things their way. No matter whether everybody agrees or not.

Who knows, if there is a little less taking, they might keep on giving.

Geographic location: Deer Lake, Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • Sacul
    December 10, 2013 - 16:55

    Take minor hockey as an example. You have the house league volunteer who spends his time helping the kids, but doesn't know much and all too often has the attitude that hockey is all about fun, and it doesn't matter whether kids are challenged athletically or improve. Then there is the AAA coach or higher level rep coach, usually or almost always a parent, who is more knowledgeable about the game, might have played it at a higher level, and tries to advantage his own kid at the expense of others (who are often more talented), and tries to win at the expense of development. I don't know which of the two is worse. What we need are coaches who want to develop kids, who challenge them at their own level, who push them, but skip all the crap about winning at all costs. Work them hard, roll the lines, and have fun.

  • Casualty of War
    December 10, 2013 - 10:25

    After 29 years coaching in the sport I dedicated at least 10 hours every week, I had to step away from coaching in the schools. I do not blame anyone, but the system we have created at the school level. Participation at all levels is a wonderful experience. Elite sport is dying...The attitude in NL shows at the Canada Games Level. Athletes are not accountable for missing practices or for not giving their best effort. They are all "ENTITLED". It is not worth the trouble for a coach or for an administrator to deal with irate parents. In order to compete, we need competition. In order to compete, we need money. To access money, we need parents. We have just now invited every parent into the workings of the team and now they feel they have input. I had at least another 10 years to give...just had to step aside this year. It's a shame...more have followed. Can you imagine a Math teacher calling in sick and the principal walking out into the street and asking a passerby "Excuse me, did you do Math in School because I need a teacher today" That is what is happening with coaches. The certified coaches who spend hours in classrooms doing clinics are no longer needed in the schools. Too Bad, So Sad...Anyway the kids still get to play and that is what they want. BTW, another famous line from parents...This is not the Olympics b'y. My take on that, "No and they will never make the Olympics with that Attitude"