Friday, April 29, 2016
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Baseball ended for the season a little early this year. Due to some poor coaching, the boys have decided to call It quits for this team and take a look at joining another team in the Fall or next Spring. It all happened pretty quickly but started two Sunday's ago with some negative comments towards Dylan and escalated to the coach punishing both boys by sitting them because Nicole and I hurt his feeling with some questions about his coaching techniques. The boys are sad to be away from their friends on the team but it was clear the coaches hostility towards us and them was going to make it tough to have any fun the rest of the season. The boys made the call, showing great character.
This team was struggling in the first 6 games of the season. Good players, mediocre team. Two Sundays ago we were playing a much better team and lost the first game of the double header 30-0, we were down 22-2 in the second game when Dylan made an error fielding a pop fly in left field. This was easily the 30th error of the two games by the Eagles and while Dylan and Sam both had a few errors, every kid had a few as well, do the math. The missed pop fly was a ball hit high and into the sun and while it isn't clear that the sun was the issue, his glasses were fogged up or he wasn't paying complete attention, it garnered audible disgust by the coaching staff. I gathered the coached together and nicely let them know that it wasn't acceptable to treat Dylan that way and left it at that.
Brien "the manager" responded the next day with a passive aggressive note and article about youth sports and setting the bar too low. Completely missing the point that the request was to send positive messages to players, not berate and belittle them for making a mistake. That prompted Nicole to write a very well written and respectful email to "the manager" explaining that we simply wanted him to adjust his coaching to help our kids learn the game, improve their skills and be good teammates in a more positive fashion. Well, that generated a 7 paragraph email defending his 9 years of youth baseball volunteering with a number of examples of how Dylan and Sam had let him down during the last 6 weeks. Basically, he was saying that Nicole's email broke is little heart and the boys need to shape up.
Ok, so we left that alone, attended practice the next two days and got ready for Sunday's game. On Saturday night he emailed us that while Dylan can stay on the roster Sunday, we was going to limit his time on the field because he doesn't think he can see. His promise pre-season, was that all kids would play equally and not sit out more than 2 innings a game. This is not a league where standing are kept, it's most kids first introduction to the full size 90 foot baseball diamond and intended to get them ready for high school. Oh yeah, and he's not a trained eye specialist in any way. I let him know that I expected Dylan to treated like the other players and thanked him for his concern.
Sunday game day was tense with "the manager" barely acknowledging Me, Nicole, Sam or Dylan. "the manager" was clearly hostile towards the boys and played Dylan in right field for two innings and Sam in left for three. Now, keep in mind that in no way did he say that Sam would be limited and in past games, Sam pitched, played catcher, first and a little left field. After game one, the the four of us huddled and let the boys decide if they wanted to stay for the second game. They weren't having any fun and didn't see great hope for that changing. We packed up and left. I did have a few words with "the manager" and let him know that retaliating against children who just wanted to play baseball because their parents hurt is feeling was pretty childish. He let me know later that day in an email, that as "the manager" he couldn't' allow that kind of stuff to happen and I wasn't allowed back at practices or games. I gave him a little more pointed feedback on his coaching skills and let him know that the boys had decided to end their relationship with the team move on to teams where they had good coaches.
That's a lot of words but in the end, we have joined one of their favorites coaches of all time on a flag football team and have made their Basketball spring practices and tournaments a priority that would have been secondary to baseball until July. They love their basketball team and commented last week, while we were still on the baseball team that the practices were fun and the the coaches and players made them feel like family. Coach Cory of the flag team is right up there in that category as well.
This all reminded me of a baseball coach I had at about 10 or 11 years old. Horrible man that stood on top of the dugout yelling at me. I made the choice to change little league programs and flourished under new management. I still have good memories of baseball up until I kinda lost interest and focused on track and I hope the boys find another chance to play the game with a good coach and build on the great memories they have of the game in the 7 previous seasons to this nightmare.