Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Open Door Policy
We received an e-mail the other day about a high school coach that has made it literally unbearable for the players on the team to want to practice, play and respect him. Now, we had a tough time believing it was all the coaches doing. This generation of youth has a tough time with the undying respect of all elders process…something our generation practiced...especially with our coaches.
However, in an exhaustive e-mail conversation back and forth with this parent, we all concluded here at RT, that such a coach does actually exist. Supposedly, the HS coach in question has that Marine boot camp philosophy that all ball players are maggots. And, no matter how successful a player is, he is not worth his salt until the day he graduates.
This coach hates it when travel coaches call him and offer scouting reports on future players. He hates it when College coaches call him and praise one of his players. He hates it when he gets letters from colleges inquiring about a player . He hates it because it seems he feels that all of this information from others is somehow interpreted by him as a loss of control. He wants to be the one that determines who is good and who is not. And, the more he hears from scouts and coaches about his players, the harder he makes it for everyone. He’ll never say anything constructive to any of these scouts anyway according to our e-mailer. And he feels that if a player doesn’t perform for him in the 25-30 high school games, then the player is never going to be a player. You see…this coach also hates summer ball and doesn’t care if one of his players has a break-out summer. When practice resumes the following spring, that same kid or group of kids that didn’t produce for him the previous year, don’t get a chance to prove themselves, even if they had markedly improved via hard summer and fall work. Some even get cut.
It really sounds like a rotten situation. The thing is…being a hard nosed, old school, prove it to me coach can be effective, but not the way this coach conducts himself. This coach is unapproachable. He never allows the players into his office. He never tells his kids that of they need any advice, to see him. He is a standoffish coach with an angry coaching style and players can’t wait for the season to be over.
Over the weekend, we happened to see an ESPN interview with Bobby Knight and Tony LaRussa…both very good friends and legendary coaches. When it comes to hard nosed, in your face style coaching, Bobby Knight has no peers. But, Coach Knight said something that differentiates him from our nightmare high school coach. He said the at the end of the day after he has screamed, yelled, berated and verbally abused his players, they always knew that at any time, they could walk into his office and chat about their basketball skills or lack thereof, a classroom issue, a girlfriend, family problems and just about anything. And, Coach Knight would listen. Many players that played for Coach Knight would back that up. Steve Alford has said many times that Coach Knight was the best coach he had ever played for, because he truly cared about his players.
The high school coach that is the subject of our post seems to only care about himself. He does win a lot of games and we guess that is a good thing…but never, ever at the expense of ruining a player’s passion for the game. Evidently, he has done that to a few fringe players...you know, the players that don't get a lot of playing time, but are there to support those that do...show up for practice everyday and help make everyone else better...they do it for fun...except in this case, they are miserable and that's just plain sad.
The exceptional players just ignore him, and play for their own pride, for their family and for the love of the game, but according to our e-mail buddy, they wish they could play for more than that. They wished that they had a coach that they could rally around and win for him as well. It’s a shame that there are coaches like this. This coach is missing out on so much by not being an integral part of his players lives…by not listening to their stories, their passion, concerns, their lives and sharing their enthusiasm for sports in general. He has created a place that doesn’t foster respect…and that is a truly lonely place to be as a coach.