My mother could slay dragons. She was five feet, 105 pounds, yet she was fearless and her devout protection of her children would have sent her into burning buildings, jumping off cliffs and swimming an entire ocean if we needed her. It defined me and my siblings and it is the one trait that we reverently took with us into the next generation. Recently, I was reminded of my mom. My sister’s son was a member of the school basketball team, but because of politicking, aggressive pressure on the part of parents and a weakness by the coach, her son barely played in his final game this past Saturday. With a strong lead, the coach left many of the boys on the bench and later told them they just weren’t good enough. Today, she wrote Coach Walton a letter.
Now that the season is over I would like to offer my opinion on the ninth grade basketball season. Saturday would have been an opportunity to reward your team and show these young men that all of their efforts were not lost on you — but you failed. I believe sports has educational value. Several players left dejected because you would not allow them to contribute in the final game –one with a sizable lead. Then you proceeded to insult them in your closing remarks. Is it true that you said, for those of you boys who didn’t play, it is time for you to “get better?” How dejected these boys felt especially considering some of their teammates played after having In School Suspension that very day! I know in the NBA if they break conduct rules, they allow their multi-million dollar players to participate, but 14 years old, really a disappointing lesson.
In my 17 years as a parent of three kids, I have never seen a more aggressive group of parent-politicking for any sport, anytime. One dad was “out of line” screaming at you and other kids. He would holler for you to “sub” whenever his child was not playing? Conveniently by the end of the season, his son seemed to get most of the playing time. During the recent Whitewater game, his son got up from the bench and walked over to you and said…”I am ready coach” and you put him in. Really? How about the other well-behaved kids on the bench? This acquiescence was not lost on any of the young men who witnessed the bullying behavior by this dad.
The father even went on to tell other parents that their kids should not have made the team. His behavior was repulsive and he should have been talked to, but instead you allowed him to WIN the day with his son playing the whole game while other kids were left to sit and watch. He manipulated the starting line-up and used you as a pawn to get play time for his kid. He ruined the season for many of these good boys that he targeted and I am appalled. But in the end you made the final calls. I am astonished that you allowed an overbearing parent to coach a high school travel team.
Sunday we were at a neighborhood barbecue and ran into the YBOA group coordinator who coached my son’s rec basketball team. When he asked about the season, we told him that it ended rough with very little playing time and only 58 seconds yesterday, which greatly disappointed him. Todd went on to tell us that my son was ranked #1 in the eighth grade draft. He cannot believe that his skills were lost on you. My son started both 7th and 8th grade in middle school and was awarded the Bronco Award for the outstanding Student Athlete of the year at the end of the year by the coaches and the athletic director.
I have prayed a lot about this and can only move on and hope my son improves and continues to play basketball. I hope that when you coach in the future you do not allow obnoxious parents to influence playing time.
Michelle’s letter may not move Coach Walton, but I am certain it will impact my nephew well into adulthood when he is a father. A child learns by example. Dragon slaying moms make good boys into great men and young girls into women who can change the world.