Lightning Baseball

Why do we Coach?
Posted Apr 29, 2017

For most young kids that love the game of baseball, the dream is to play in the major leagues! Granted, that dream is ultimately quashed simply by the pure difficulty of being one of the greatest in the world at anything. Be it playing the piano, playing baseball, astro-physics, neurology, gymnastics, - whatever!

But that doesn’t stop those kids from dreaming! And we, as adults (parents, coaches, teachers, tutors, mentors, etc.) should do everything we can to foster that dream! 

So why is it that virtually every day, I hear from a different family, that their son was intimidated, berated, threatened, yelled at, sworn at, and more – because this young man has decided to not play baseball for his HS summer team (per CHSAA he has every right to do so) and play in a more competitive environment with other kids all committed to that same dream?

What would you do if this happened to your son?

A local high school coach…

  • Pulls a player aside and yells at him about how “selfish” the player is because he has the desire (and ability) to play at a much more competitive level than for his local HS team during the summer.  This is an outstanding young man, of high character, that does great work on and off the field and in the classroom.  Anyone that’s ever played with him would tell you he is a tremendous teammate.  How can a HS coach bully him and literally tell the boy he is a “me” player?
  • Promises a young man an “opportunity” to play some infield for the varsity this spring, if the young man commits to playing summer baseball for the HS team instead of playing at a much more competitive club level.  The young man is a JR that was already going to be on the varsity as a pitcher. Shouldn’t the young man have simply been able to compete for the spot without the implication regarding summer?
  • Screams at a 15-year-old boy because the boy wanted to play for a very competitive club team for the summer, rather than for his local HS team - where there have often been 20 kids and a schedule of 36 games…and the players split those games.  But this coach, rather than try to simply find out why this boy thinks there are benefits to playing for the club team, he simply yells at the young man and intimidates him.
  • Asks me which players from his HS were going to be playing summer baseball for me and that he needed to know before the HS tryouts occurred in 2 days.  Not that he was trying to find out from a summer scheduling perspective - he wanted to know before the tryouts.
  • Told his kids recently that if they were not going to play for his HS program during the summer, then they would not get any “recruiting help” from him or his staff.  I understand that it would be difficult to do much on those players behalf for those 8 weeks, but to simply state he would not help them any longer with recruiting at all?
  • Cuts players from his HS program that get NCAA D1 offers that immediate summer following the spring season he was cut!
  • Pulls a boy into a room at school and told the boy that if he didn’t play summer baseball for their HS he would most likely get cut the following spring.
  • Once informed that a student/athlete was going to play club ball and that his parents made that decision, told the young man that it was bad parenting by his parents to make a decision like that.
  • Walks out of the dugout and screams awful things at their players without crossing the white line out on to the field.  I’m not talking about where to go on a play or how many outs there are.  But to literally tell a player he is awful!

The common thread here is that these are all local HS coaches and they all seem to be missing the point.  All of these situations appear to be about the coach, rather than about the young man.  In my opinion, every single coach should be doing everything in his/her power to enhance the lives of their student/athletes.  They should be encouraging the kids to strive for greatness - not tear them down for attempting it.  They should support the tough decisions these kids make, rather than intimidate them into different decisions.  Be it a 14 year old, or an 18 year old, it’s hard enough as it is to make difficult decisions.  All of us coaches should be helping them learn how to make those decisions and how to consider many variables and weigh them.  Encouraging them to develop character and use good judgment. We should not be using passive/aggressive tactics, or bullying, or intimidating to get our way.  

I would be shocked if the Athletic Directors were to attend a local HS baseball game and sit in the stands and yell at the coaches for the poor coaching decisions they make.  I wonder if those AD’s pull the coaches aside, completely surprising them, and then intimidate them and threaten them with the safety of their jobs if they don’t do what the AD wants?  I doubt that.  Yet, we have all of these coaches doing those exact things to kids!

It is time for those coaches to move on.  Get out of the game.  If they aren’t willing to do the work to learn all they can about every single player in their program and how they can HELP that young man develop into the men they all can be, then they should not be coaching.  It is, and always will be, all about the kids and their dreams, their passions and their goals.  And all of us should do everything we can to help them! At some point there needs to be some accountability for this behavior.