Sports is something that is, and always will be close to my heart. I love sports and I truly believe that kids that play competitive sports learn responsibilities and life lessons that can help them become better adults. There are sports for all kids. As a parent you should encourage and even borderline force them to join a sport. This will teach them a ton of lessons that they will need in life, the biggest being teamwork. I tell me kids to try a sport for one season and if they hate it they never have to do it again. Usually they realize how much fun it is and that it opens up a whole new world of friends that they may never have met otherwise.
I know that my life would have been completely different had I not started competing in various sports. When I joined football my sophomore year it made me completely different kid. My confidence doubled and I went from being a shadow lurking, insecure and awkward boy, to a young man. Also being on the track team was a great way for me to feel better about myself.
In my adult years I have coached many youth sport teams or assisted in teaching kids. I’ve coached youth soccer, volleyball, basketball, and helped in baseball. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my work in action when something you have taught over and over and over again happens in a magical moment on the court.
Sadly, I have also been a part of some terrible teams with some terrible adult coaches. As a freshman, I didn’t make the cut from my basketball team. I know I did not deserve to be cut. I was scrawny and undeveloped, my skills were rough, but I played my heart out. I never gave up and was willing to learn. I was cut, with a big group of boys. The boys that did make the team were overweight and had shitty attitudes. I would find out that these kids who made the team had dad’s who were friends with the coach. This corruption hurt me bad. I never went out for the Rancho Cotate High School basketball team again even though I love the sport more than any other sport. I spent the years playing blacktop basketball and perfecting my game on my own, sure enough I could beat any of those kids who made the team over me without any problem. But no, I’m not bitter.
So, we had softball signups at my fire department for the girls. Yasmine was 9 and Bailey was 6 years old. My wife took them down to get them signed up. Sadly, the lack of girls who signed up was too small to form a league and the girls were asked if they wanted to play in the little league instead. Yasmine was scared, it was her first year. She didn’t want to but I encouraged her to try. Bailey got on a co-ed coach pitch league. The coaches were good for Bailey and she had a great time and learned a lot.
Yasmine got on Coach Craig Best’s team, the Braves. There was 2 girls on the team including Yasmine. Right when I went to the first practice I realized what a tool Coach Best was. This guy had no clue what he was doing, practice was a free for all. At the end I went up to him and offered my assistance if he needed it ever, I told him I had years of experience and would do whatever he needed. I said I couldn’t commit to being an assistant coach because my schedule didn’t allow me to make it to most Saturday games. He said that would be great! The next practice the mayhem went on again and he never asked for any help, he was content with the way it was going. Yasmine was discouraged quickly because there was no order and she had no idea how to play the game.
Coach Best’s son played on the team and believe me, he got all the attention he needed. He never sat on the bench, his attitude sucked, and to top it off he was horrible. Most of the new kids were better than the coach’s son but he got to play the entire game. As the season progressed things only got worst. We lost multiple players because the parent’s could not tolerate his coaching style. One day I went to Wayne Wood, the man who oversaw the league and spoke to him about my concerns. He seemed to not give a shit and kind of brushed off my comments. The conversation ended with me telling him that I doubted he would get any more of our money until he got his shit together. Not surprising but that following off-season, when the fields were in danger of being torn down, not much support came his way.
So….. to end the year I wrote the coach the following letter to air my feelings. Now when I see him or his wife around our small town he won’t even look in my direction. He never responded to my letter which is fortunate for him.
In case you can’t tell from the last name I will identify myself so I am very clear who I am from the get-go. I am the father of Yasmine Grant from your little league team that you coach. In case you’re unsure…. She’s the one you throw out in a random outfield spot and ignore most of the game. She’s the one that you have repeatedly put on the bench in the past few games. She’s one of the kids who have really been taught nada for the entire baseball season. Maybe this rings a bell, two games ago you benched her in favor of other players that were substitute players and she never even got to bat. Finally when she got her chance, and the excitement mounted, the umpires called her out after two pitches because you failed to report the substitution. So while all the other kids got to bat 2 or 3 times, my kid got ZERO at bats.
OK now that we are clear on who she is. I am her father, remember me? Yeah, I walked up to you during the 2nd practice and offered my assistance. I told you that whenever you needed help and I was available, I would gladly do what I could. It might be hard to remember me because you never took me up on the offer (other then the two games I stood on 3rd as a base coach during the game). Instead the few practices you held were really run by Dominick and his older brother. You took time to work with a pitcher or two but really didn’t teach the kids anything at all. Outfielders really didn’t learn to field a pop up and throw to the cut off man. No mechanics were really covered from what I saw. Anyway that is not the point of this email.
Truth is, I approached Wayne Wood about the situation a couple of games ago. At the game in Watertown you benched Yasmine and let a substitute player play in her spot. She really didn’t play the whole game. When I heard about this it pissed me off and I was ready to confront you then. Recently it happened again, and then again, and then…. you get the point. A replacement player is meant to fill our missing spots. You seem to have missed the memo on this. You do not bench our kids for these other kids. PERIOD! If we have only 7 kids and you have 3 replacements, one of them sits. I understand you want to win but this is the shittiest way to go about it. You have taken our players from their positions and put them elsewhere. In the process you have completely eliminated my kid from the game. Well, here’s the thing, I paid for my kid to play on that team. This coaching practice is completely unethical. As a coach you should be ashamed of treating kids this way.
You win or lose with your team. Now lets talk about our replacement players… I know your doing this to win. Look at last night’s game. We already beat that team, with our team! We almost lost last night, it took a last inning melt down from them to allow us to win. Think about it, this was your team of all stars, or so you thought. And they should have lost the game to a team we had already beaten. Back to these kids. What a bunch of winners! They argue with the umpire, they glare at the other kids on the opposing team, they have temper tantrum when they don’t get their way. I was so happy that when they came with their bad attitudes, they brought their family members with the same mentality, to our stands to represent my kids. What a damn embarrassment! I don’t like having any affiliation with this group of people. Its ridiculous that you allow that behavior on your field and in your dugout. Get some control. I don’t want my kid thinking its OK to act like Helen Keller after you strike out. At first I thought these kids were getting all the key positions because they were phenomenal players, but I have seen that they are just like our kids. They have made many errors. And they have gotten out a whole lot while batting.
I also notice that Nick was also getting benched. He seems to be at most of the games and practices. Ever since day one you have had him at short stop. Suddenly, you bring in this new kid and Nick has been pushed to the bench and tossed in the outfield. How do you think that makes these kids feel? How would you like it? It teaches the kids exactly what they shouldn’t learn. That there is no loyalty, or team, and that they aren’t good enough.
I hate when people say this. Why should you have to validate your credentials with anyone? But I have coached youth sports for years. Baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and the list goes on. The parents have always given me great feedback and have requested my leadership again and again. Because I care about their kids, I make their kids better athletes and people, and I do things with a sense of integrity. I really wonder if anyone will try and get back on your team again next season. I know I won’t. Today I told the story of my baby girl’s baseball season to numerous people and they all agree that what you have done is completely out of line and you should be told.
At this point the damage is done. I wanted Yasmine to play the game, and love it like I do. She is very athletic and comes from a long line of great athletes. No doubt she will succeed big time in a sport and look back on this season and hold you in complete contempt. She has gotten to the point where she doesn’t want to play. You hardly acknowledge her, put her on the bench. Only put her in the outfield. And make her bat last in the lineup. Despite the fact she makes it to the practices, shows up to the games, and always has a good attitude and tries her best. Now your dugout assistant, Ross’ mother, ignores Yasmine when she asks if she is batting. She goes out there to play, not to sit and watch some other imposters play in her position.
Now please don’t take this email as a sign of weakness. I would have loved nothing more than to snatch you up from the dugout and tell you exactly what is on my mind. But it wouldn’t have been pretty and I would not do that in front of my kid. I really don’t want her to know just how fucked up you are treating her. Besides, it would embarrass her and completely humiliate Conner. With that said, this will not happen again at tomorrow’s game. I will not bite my tongue much longer and watch my daughter get her feelings hurt. You have a daughter, perhaps you understand?
If you want to discuss this further please feel free to call me 615-796-XXXX
Here is Yazzie during a game, spirits high though other random kids got to play in her position as she sat on the bench. I kept her up by joking with her while she waited in the dugout for her turn to go in that sometimes never happened.