Amy Donaldson: Resignation of a Texas volleyball coach after just one season highlights problematic high school sports issues

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  • teach2read Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 25, 2019 3:46 p.m.

    I am a high school teacher, but not a coach. I honestly believe that coaches should receive greater compensation. They put in a lot of hours to help kids develop their skills. Some coaches, like a volleyball coach that I know of, choose to be crooked and "steal" from fundraisers. Fortunately for this guy, there were no criminal charges brought against him, but he did lose his coaching and teaching job.

    You have to have a thick skin to be a coach, but you also need to have integrity.

  • golf tooele, UT
    Jan. 25, 2019 2:54 p.m.

    Everyone needs a good excuse these days. Uncle Rico would still be in the NFL if only. Our society has decided its easier to cry discrimination, racism, sexism whatever ism you can make fit. Its alot easier than taking responsible and working to better ones self.

  • KatieEI Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 25, 2019 2:51 p.m.

    Thank you, Amy, for a wonderful article! If we are really doing what’s best for kids we are showing them how to develop character!

  • water rocket , 00
    Jan. 25, 2019 2:01 p.m.

    Originally ALL athletic events in jr. and senior high school was physical education. Then they began playing on teams from the same school, and that evolved into competition between schools. The biggest problem I have with this entire sports program thing is how it ONLY favors the biggest, strongest, most athletic students. The vast majority of students have no real opportunity to participate, especially when parents get involved. Today the schools are holding news conferences, assemblies and travel time (with buses) for these entitled students. While I understand that there are "fees", those fees don't come close to covering the actual costs of these special programs. I say that if the Department of Education were really concerned about their budgets, they should return these programs to the original physical activity programs they were originally designed to be. We all like sports, but if they want this stuff, form after school clubs to compete with other schools.

    Jan. 25, 2019 12:26 p.m.

    As an ex-high school coach in Davis county UT, I can attest that half the parents are a joke and a share of the kids are entitled.
    I'm not saying all the players ate entitled but the ones who are are the worst. No regard for the team, only in it for themselves. But yet when you ask more for the entitled they go right to mom or dad and say that the coach isn't being fair.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Jan. 25, 2019 11:18 a.m.

    With educational funding tight, with club sports so readily available, and with the problems in inter-scholastic sports Amy highlights, it is past time to eliminate inter-scholastic sports.

    All the real benefits of sports can be had at lower cost and offered to far more students through an intra-mural program with several different leagues based on ability. Just as schools have beginning, intermediate, advanced, and performing bands and choirs, they ought to offer several different teams for the various sports. Games should be played within in a school and with teams from other schools, but without playoffs or championships. Every team plays a set number of games with the emphasis on improving individual and team abilities, rather than winning trophies or bragging rights. Playing multiple sports or having non sport activities in the off season should be encouraged.

    Parents and kids who want a highly competitive experience, should join and fund club teams.

    Taxpayers should fund education for all, not recreation for a privileged few.

  • 3DimesDown Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 25, 2019 11:10 a.m.

    I think club sports are what is killing the high school sports model. Parents think their child deserves the playing time because of the extra work they do in club sports, not realizing that every kid on the team has put in the same amount of time in the same club atmosphere.

    As far as coaches putting in off season programs, not only do the coaches want to win and need those programs to develop kids, they make money off of those camps & clinics, they don't put them on just for fun, they do it to supplement the measly pay they get for coaching.

  • Rikitikitavi Cardston, Alberta
    Jan. 23, 2019 11:56 a.m.

    H.S. sports too often is a microcosm of the real world: laziness, entitlement, zero self-discipline, disappearing work ethic, disrespectfulness, selfishness....and the list is endless. I could turn this into a political diatribe, but not going there.
    It REALLY is about the young athletes. But there is lots of good stuff out there.
    Fortunately our area has fabulous live theater where youth who are not athletic can get involved and develop talents in other ways.
    It is so refreshing to see the positive side of athletes, coaches, students, parents, volunteers, singers, dancers, set designers... And all of this in a world where corruption, greed, immorality, and pride run rampant.

  • Husker2 , 00
    Jan. 22, 2019 3:32 p.m.

    I've been a big fan of high school sports and have done some coaching. It's time for sports to be removed from the schools.

  • IJ Hyrum, Ut
    Jan. 22, 2019 8:09 a.m.

    "Overall a little over 7% of high school athletes (about 1 in 14) went on to play a varsity sport in college and less than 2% of high school athletes (1 in 54) went on to play at NCAA Division I schools." Figure the odds of Billy or Sally doing anything significant in athletics. It is not worth dragging your children, coaches, and administrators into the gutter with you as you try to verbally make your kid into a star.

  • UtahLonghorn Midvale, UT
    Jan. 22, 2019 8:02 a.m.

    The problem is that parents get too involved and short-sighted on what is most important. Allow the kids the opportunity to play and have the high school experience, not every kid will see the next level. Teams need players to do their part and fulfill their roles on the team. I've seen parents get so involved with their kids that they start to sabotage other players, which in turn hurts the team. Coaches have allowed this type of interference and then when things go bad it really goes bad.
    I've also seen coaches that have a system in place that almost eliminates the parent factor within their teams. Those seem to be the teams that see the most success. If a team has a high presence of parent interference and have some success it doesn't last long term.
    As a parent all I've ever wanted is to know that my kids are getting the best coaching and mentoring that they could receive. After that the success, winning, and accolades are a great by-product.
    Coaches deserve our respect and support! If we can show that to them, we have done our job.

  • 1Reader Alpine, UT
    Jan. 21, 2019 9:46 p.m.

    Maybe we need more recreational, participatory sports--and less absolute, intense competition, where 99%+ watch and never play.

  • intrinsicrewards Salem, VA
    Jan. 21, 2019 7:57 p.m.

    I was a head coach for four years. with a lot of blood sweat and tears the program went from pretty much nothing to a top ten program in VA wrestling. We had two full teams and 35 wrestlers. The first 3 years were problems from parents and I almost walked on water in their eyes. Enter the new 9th graders and their parents with super high expectations about being part of a great program. These 9th grade kids were entitled, lazy, disrespectful and their parents weren't any better. Parents started complaining I wasn't teaching them enough and wanted to "meet". I told them I only met with parents when I was getting the bus ready at 5am Saturday mornings. None showed but they even asked the AD if he would get a better coach. We won our district for the first time in 20 years and after the season I walked away. It's just not worth putting up with the parent nonsense with everything else you have to do all year. The team was good for 3 more years with some of the wrestlers we had developed and then back into the gutter they went and have been there since. Parents be careful what you wish for.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Jan. 21, 2019 6:54 p.m.

    That the paid position of volleyball coach exists at the high school level is, in itself, indicative of the problem.

    We need to step the whole sports thing back a bunch in high school, and make it about academics again.

  • sam1 Washington, UT
    Jan. 21, 2019 3:34 p.m.

    You are spot on Amy. You can win a state championship and someone will complain about how you did it. Usually the complaint is,"my child was not involved enough in that championship." There are very few "lifers" left among the high school coaching ranks because of the reasons you outlined. There are a lot of great, supportive parents but there are way too many who need to grow up. They are not helping their children learn to deal with life's disappointments in appropriate ways.

  • Steve Cottrell Centerville, UT
    Jan. 21, 2019 2:56 p.m.

    Perhaps we don't need such competitive sports as part of the high school and junior high programs?

  • water rocket , 00
    Jan. 21, 2019 1:45 p.m.

    Perhaps every school should have a signed "contract" with each student athlete and their parents before they can participate wherein they agree that they will accept all coaching decisions or go through arbitration by a panel of other parents and school administrators, with the proviso that they pay a fine and withdraw their student from the program if they lose. My dentist does this every time I visit him. If the dentist can do it, why not the schools? If parents understood that there could be a negative outcome for themselves, maybe they wouldn't be so willing to "go after" the coaches.

  • "Hakuna Matata" Vernal, UT
    Jan. 21, 2019 1:40 p.m.

    The "Battle of the Rock" on Mount Olympus was one region that I noticed when I was living there a couple of years ago, where the parents have a lot of power to over rule the Coach's decision.

  • plyxply SLC, UT
    Jan. 21, 2019 11:59 a.m.

    It's a shame that parents act the way they do and then blame the coaches for everything their child isn't successful at. I've seen too many parents force their way into their kids athletics, trying to live through their kid, and then crash and burn and have a meltdown when things don't go perfectly. High school sports is so much more than just getting on the field/court, it should be about learning how to deal with adversity, learning your role on your team, working as hard as you can for the success of your team. It's a shame parents ruin athletics for their kids. I was watching a high school game on Friday and was ashamed of the parents in the stands yelling at their kids coaches when someone missed a shot. Then they try and coach from the stands, which just makes them look even worse, especially because 99% don't have a clue what they're talking about. Parents need to back off and get a grip. Administrators who give these parents a platform to voice their displeasure are just making the problems worse.

  • Oh Really? Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 21, 2019 11:37 a.m.

    Ban transfers.

    Ban kids playing out-or-boundary.

    Every year do an anonymous survey at every school: “Donyou know anyone from your boundaries that is playing at another school?” Locate those kids and remove their eligibility.

    Start this in Little League.

  • Coach11 Ogden, UT
    Jan. 21, 2019 11:13 a.m.

    My philosophy used to be don't punish the kid for the what the parent does. I have totally changed to if the kid has problem parents, they are getting cut. Also, Admin should have clear cut standards for coaches, if there is no evidence of violation of standards, no worries. Admin need to have backbones and support the coaches

  • Nate7 Eagle, ID
    Jan. 21, 2019 10:53 a.m.

    Great article Amy. Thank you!

  • Strider303 American Fork, UT
    Jan. 21, 2019 9:53 a.m.

    "Go to any high school game and sit in the stands. You’ll hear perfectly good people in any other setting screaming insults and obscenities at just about everyone participating – officials, coaches and even other children."

    I take issue with the opinion that people who act as described above are "...perfectly good people...". They are not, and what we see here is what is behind the mask. Cheering for some one or a team is not the same as degrading a person or team.

    We are mirrors of our culture which is at present rather crude and narcissistic.

  • red.diehard Central, UT
    Jan. 21, 2019 8:52 a.m.

    The solution is easy. We need more classifications.
    More classes makes for more championship games which, in turn leads to more trophies and bragging rights. Everybody is happy.

    While we are at it, maybe we should limit playing time for each player to say 1/2 a game. Further, a player can only play enough minutes for 1 game for every 3 games on the schedule. Everybody plays (even the most unathletic high schooler of the most generous parents...wink wink) the same minutes. Equality for all!

    Yep, that is a great plan.

  • BF South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 21, 2019 8:45 a.m.

    I have a daughter playing in high school and last year I saw exactly this. A well known accomplished and highly respected coach was gone after for holding kids accountable and not playing kids that complained and disrespected one another. Parents went in the stands to garner support, held secret meetings, went to administration to get this coach fired. For those of us that feel our kids should work hard to earn their spots we’re glad that the coach is still there. Parents tried to integrate in the program as they had done for years through money etc. and expected something in return other than a coach that would work hard for little pay. They attacked his character and him personally along with his family. Tried to threaten lawsuits and get him fired on baseless accusations. How and why would coaches want to put up with this? Administration beware, cut this out. Parents if you feel your kids are that good bc all the expensive camp coaches tell you so please remember that those coaches get paid by you coming back. Please realize that just because you may coach and think you are great or can pay a coach to tell you your kid is great doesn’t make it so... respect our coaches...

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    Jan. 21, 2019 8:19 a.m.

    I have only one small exception to the article. It seemed Amy that you inferred that coaches are having to run off season programs reluctantly but that is not the way I see it.

    To the contrary we have all of these offseason programs because coaches instituted them, they are the reason they exist. Looking for that edge by trying to make kids on their particular sport all year.

    A kid has to be such an outstanding athlete that a coach can’t not play him for a kid to be able to play a second sport or not participate in a bunch of offseason stuff.

    That part is on coaches, not parents. There was a time not that long ago where we all just played what was in season. Coaches changed that.

  • Gretschman Draper, UT
    Jan. 21, 2019 6:20 a.m.

    If the coach acts in a more juvenile way than the students they are coaching, they should be fired or move along. Coaching isn’t for everyone.

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    Jan. 21, 2019 2:44 a.m.

    Any parent who is rude enough to go on social media and attack a coach should automatically be forced to spend a week or two with that coach, and experience first hand all the ups and downs that coaches go through. Practices, working on strategies, dealing with their player's personal issues like struggling grades, or an injury. Oh yeah, and also understanding that these coaches actually have a home life just like the parents do and may not even earn as much income as the parents.

    (Sorry, but high school and jr. high coaches aren't raking in the big bucks like college and pro coaches. It's not even close)

    Perhaps by doing this, these parent's who are trying to live vicariously through their children might have a change of heart about how they treat their kid's coaches.

  • xert Santa Monica, CA
    Jan. 20, 2019 10:22 p.m.

    Thank you Amy. It’s horrifying but then, what isn’t these days?