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Old 04-01-2013, 07:40 AM   #1
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Need help with a coaching issue. (long story)

as many of you know, i'm a coach (actually co-head coach) on my son;s little league baseball team.

the league is broken up into 2 age groups: 9 - 10 year olds, and 11-12 year olds.

we had a tryout day a few weeks ago where all boys showed up and were evaluated on things like throwing. catching, fielding grounders, and hitting. actually, the 9-10 year olds didn;t get to hit due to time restraints.

because there were about 115 boys, each test was very brief. the coaches had only a few minutes to evaluate each boy on each task and mark our judgement based on an id number given each boy on a sticker on their chest.

a week after, we had our draft. since the 11-12 year olds are more "important" (they get to play for the official little league world series in williamsport, pa.) they had their draft first. a few 10 year olds were selected to play with the older boys due to their advanced ability.

but that's where the problem started.

we had our (the 9-10 year olds) draft next. there was a large chalkboard in the office where all of the boys' numbers were written. there were the noticeably few missing numbers from what should be a consecutive list (the boys taken "up" to the 11-12 year olds), and then there was a few boys listed as 11 year olds.

i thought it was strange that a few 11 year olds were available to be chosen to play with the younger boys, but the league president explained that some of them were placed there having to do with their ability (or lack thereof, apparently); some because they had too many boys to play on the older 11-12 year old teams.

that seemed weird to me since they took some younger, more talented boys up with the older ones, but i let it go.

after going over our ratings, my co-coach and i selected one of the 11 year old boys. granted, he wasn't our first pick, or even in our top 6 (out of 12 picks), but our ratings were decent on him, and i had noted that he was a big kid. almost as big as me! just somewhat ungainly. so we picked him over other boys hoping he was teachable.

after our team meeting and first team practice (where this kid towered over the rest of the team), his mom called me to tell me that he was quitting because it was embarrassing for him to play with the little kids since he was about to turn 12. i told his mom that i understood and would speak to the league about it.

when i called the president of the league to tell him, he said that they would review their evaluations and get back to me on it. at our last practice, the president told me that they weren't going to move him up, and asked me to call his mom to ask her to call him to discuss it. he also mentioned that his uniform (adult xl!) had been ordered, and his mom had yet to pay his registration fee.

when i questioned why such a big kid that wasn't necessarily terrible (but not great) wasn't being taken up, the president said that they felt he could get hurt if he played with more talented kids. he repeated that he wanted me to contact the mom to have her call him to discuss it.

the whole thing just isn't sitting right with me. i mean, my first thought is that this could permanently scar the kid and cause him to shy away from sports altogether. as i said he's really big for an 11 - about to be 12 year old, and he just needs to grow into his body. you never know; he could be a great athlete if he's that big so young.

but i'm not sure how far i should go with this. the people that run the league have been doing it for upwards of a decade or more, so maybe they have experience with this.

i think i'll bring this up monday at our coaches' meeting, but i know if i do that it might really piss off the president since all discussions get logged publicly in the meetings' minutes which are available online to the public the next day. he's already told me their decision, but i feel that it should be discussed further in the open. maybe a coach of the older boys would be willing to take a chance on him?

also, the fact that they are still interested in getting his $75 registration fee while this goes on kind of bothers me. if he pulls out because of their decision, they should eat the fee.

but still, the boy's family did sign a contract of sorts for the tryouts and to order the uniform by showing up at the first team meeting.

so, what should i do? should i make this a matter of public record and stick my neck out for a kid i don't really know?

i was thinking of asking some of the older boys' coaches on the side to see if any of them might be willing to take a chance on him.

but again, that might seem as trying to go around the powers that be. i'm only a probationary coach and no one really knows me there, but i've never been afraid to speak my mind, either. also, i can't do any good going forward if i can't coach, so there in lies my conundrum.

what does everyone think i should do?

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Old 04-01-2013, 08:08 AM   #2
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IMO as long as you have enough bodies in the correct age range you should field the team from that group. If you do not have a large enough turnout then I think it is fine to draw from the other group.

I think the only mistake that you made was to give the mom hope.

This is one of the problems that I have with youth sports. In the younger grades we have come to believe that every kid deserves a cookie and a trophy. Then we get to the real world and kids begin to see how the game is played.

At this point I would like to see them drop the fee, but that would set a precedent going forward. So I doubt that it will happen.

As far as what I think you should do, deliver the bad news and move on.

Working with kids is very important and very tough because for every kid you help you disadvantage another. This is why I really think it is a good idea to follow the rules and not your heart.
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Old 04-01-2013, 08:26 AM   #3
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I am not in much of a position to give advice on this. However, you seem like a person who cares about these kids. I recommend doing what you feel is the right thing to do. If the powers that be disagree, remember that it is sometimes easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission. Just my two cents, mind you. I wish you the best.
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Old 04-01-2013, 08:44 AM   #4
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Hi,
I can tell that you feel that this has put you in a very dificult situation. It almost seems that you are being expected to have to choose between your collegues or the kid, his family and your conscience. Does this seem that something here is not ringing true to you and even perhaps a little disrespectful to you the coaches, the kid and the family?
I would suggest to you that if you can identify what is actually 'bugging' you then your course of action may become clearer. See, there is a little something going on here that is suggesting to me that it is the ethics of your collegue(s) that has disappointed you and thrown into the spotlight how they can behave this way which is not sitting comfortably within you.
If any of this is ringing some bells with you and you would like to take this further then please let me know. We can do a private reply if it would help.
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:49 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aunt Bea View Post
This is one of the problems that I have with youth sports. In the younger grades we have come to believe that every kid deserves a cookie and a trophy. Then we get to the real world and kids begin to see how the game is played.
I agree. When my daughter was young, there was prevalent thinking at the time that in order to encourage kids you had to instill in them the philosophy that "everyone is a winner." I think that only leads kids to feel they are entitled to something without putting any work into it.

Sounds to me like this kid may not be cut out for baseball. But with his size and strength, he might just be the school's next star wrestler. If it were me, I would be positive and encourage him in a different direction. But you have to be positive, or he could end up simply giving up on sports altogether and shaking kids down for lunch money instead.
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Old 04-01-2013, 12:36 PM   #6
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BT, I have the highest regard for your personal ethics, and by just asking the question, you already know the answer.

I agree that not every kid is a good fit for a particular sport.

A side story you might enjoy about my younger son involves his memorable high school football coach. His older brother had been quite a football star, and he wanted to follow in his brother's footsteps, but it wasn't meant to be. His coach called me to tell me what a great kid I had and then he stammered a bit. He went on to say that Bradey just didn't have the right makeup to be a football player. I didn't know what to think as he was such a hard worker, so physically fit, and a really big boy. His coach explained that he couldn't have Bradey tackle a player, and then offer his hand to help him up. That's when I knew what he meant about me having such a good kid. Bradey went on to excel in swimming, and he turned into an outstanding man. I think of his football coach often.
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Old 04-01-2013, 03:08 PM   #7
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Following the rules of the league is an important part of the game. You've already spoken to someone and gave your thoughts. I think at this point it would be okay to tell the mom what you were told and also to give her the person's phone number so she can follow up. I think it is now the parents responsibility to fight for their son. You can always support them but let them lead the fight. One other thing for me though is that youth sports have become so focused on winning and all the accolades that brings (scholarships, professional positions, Olympics etc) that kids who want to play for the enjoyment of the game often get left out. Kids aren't allowed to play pick up ball in the neighborhood anymore so it's organized sports or nothing.
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Old 04-01-2013, 03:48 PM   #8
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It seems like a messed up league. There's a big difference between a nine year old and a twelve year old. I'm surprised that the 9-10 bracket parents would even want their kid jumping up an age bracket. You would think they would want their kids to play with other kids their own age. They can be a big fish in a little pond playing with kids their own age if they are that good, so it's not going to stunt their talent development.
But that said, 115 kids tried out? That means a lot went home, right? The big kid should feel lucky he was even picked, but I'd have to agree with him. I wouldn't want to go down an age bracket, size aside.
The whole thing just doesn't seem right to me. An age bracket is an age bracket. Obviously the powers that be are looking to field the best team, regardless.
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Old 04-01-2013, 03:53 PM   #9
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thanks, everyone. i feel a lot better after reading the responses.

i treat these boys like their my own son, so i guess i was getting my heart into it a little too much.

i think i've done my part and will just pass on the president's phone # to let his mom fight for him if she wants.

aunt bea, i misspoke a little when i said that i told her that i'd speak to the league about him. all i did was say to her that i understood her feelings, and i'd tell the league that he was quitting. she doesn't know any of the other conversations with the presdent/league and myself.

when i call the boy's mom to tell her to call the president for any future discussion, i'm going to also tell her that he's still welcome on my team, and that we will work with him, same as all of our boys, to become better ball players.

thanks again, everyone, for helping set my course straight. as always, i have a lot to learn in life. always will. i hope.
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