Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bend Over, Here It Comes Again.................

This should be the mantra of all coaches such as myself, the ones that coach the "lower" teams or levels.  I coach the B Team at our school.  We call it the Gold team because they want the kids to think that we divided the teams equally, and this is a chance to give them more playing time.  Unfortunately, you don't have to be a genius to look at our Green or A team in order to realize that there is a difference.  If your kid is playing with me, chances are, they wear their helmet sideways, their pants backwards, and have to be told repeatedly which way the ball is supposed to go.

Now not all kids that play on the Gold team are untalented.  I have had several during my short stint at this school that are playing if not starting on varsity.  I have even had a couple that are playing at smaller colleges.  Unfortunately, they are the exception and not the rule.

This year we had a good crop of players, and I was cautiously optimistic that a few of those players would find a way to the Gold team, and we might enjoy a successful season.  After talking with the Blue team coaches and the other Gold coaches, we had reached an equitable split of the players.  Enter Coach Nutcutter.

An aside as I tell you about Coach Nutcutter.  He is a bitter and joyless soul that lives to expand his ego.  He spoils his star players, and is crueler to the scrubs than the kids themselves.  He lives at the school.  He tortures the students in his classes and looks down at the rest of the coaching staff because we don't want to sit in a dark room and jack off to game tapes with him.  He has a family, but no pictures of them adorn his desk.  Thinking about his wife and kids might get in the way of the enemies list he is creating,  the asses he has to kiss, and the necks he must step on to get ahead in the profession.  He is a control freak that is so anal, that I believe he was potty trained at gun point.  His goal in life is either to be a head coach, or drive as many struggling students and athletes to suicide as he can.

Now getting back to the story at hand.  Coach Nutcutter entered the office and saw what we had done, and I thought for a second, his head was going to spin around and he would vomit pea soup.  To say he was dissatisfied would be an understatement.  He immediately took over the process we had spent more than an hour on, and in ten minutes, he had created a Super Blue team, while the Gold team will be lucky to get eleven kids who actually know what a football looks like on the field.  Kids that could have started and received valuable playing time and experience on the Gold team are relegated to mop up duty with the Super Blue.  Coach Nutcutter's reasoning:  He wants the Blue to be able to dominate their opponents and crush them.  Nothing less than that will do.  The Super Blue must annihilate all that stand in its way to lead to the title.  The last time I heard some one talk like this, eastern Europe was over run within a matter of months.  I guess that makes me Poland.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

So you like weed........

So you like weed, or drinking, or sleeping in class, or cussing out your teachers,or bullying smallet students, or fighting, or stealing, or sexually harrassing the ladies?  Life can be difficult in most public school for students that have these issues.  In fact, many of these offenses can get you put in detention, suspended, sent to an alternative school, or even expelled.  That is, unless you possess the ability to play football.  Notice I didn't say if you are just "on the team".  Those that are merely "on the team" that commit these infractions are subject to the same rules as the rest of the student body.  They are the sacrificial lambs.  They are the examples that can stand up to the administration, the student body and the community at large. Some might even be kicked off the team. 

However, should you be a key member of the team, you are not subject to the same rules as others.  Even if you are caught and punished, you are welcome back to the team with open arms and open hearts.  I know you are busy picking your jaws up off the floor, but trust me, this is the sad truth.  I have seen "players" guilty of each of the above infractions either get off scott free or slapped on the wrist.  I have witnessed "players" in knock down, drag out fights, cheating on tests, cussing out teachers (and even coaches), getting caught stealing from team mates, coming in stoned, and even two running out in front of my car at one in the morning while holding beers.  The one thing they had in common was some coach covering their ass.  While some might be saying it is just boys being boys, it is not.  It is grown men giving tacit approval for behavior that would cost normal students, and even citizens, their freedom. 

I have been told to my face that I was not to fail a "player" that made a daily habit out of not coming to my class, and on the days he did, he would put his head down and sleep.  I caught  a "player"cheating on their semester exam, but was told he couldn't fail because summer school would interfere with summer workouts.   I had a "player" steal an iPhone from a girl's in my classroom, and been told not to report it to the administration.  I am tired of looking the other way, even if it means biting the hand that feeds me. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

What a week

Just in case you didn't know, it is hot out there.  Texas is in the middle of a heat wave and drought, and this week was a scorcher.  We were lucky to have a breeze, but when the breze went away, it was like standing in front of an open oven.  It was not what one would hope for during two a days, but fortunately none of out players that "matter" got ill.  While it is true that the heat over took a few, they were expendable. 

Aside from a few minor UIL violations, things went well.  Even though the UIL states that athletes are to have an hour break between practices, we chose to ignore that.  That way, we could get some more practice in, so it was all good.  It is nice having that sense of entitlement and arrogance, but so it goes.  After all, it is football, and we have to win, so let's do what we have to.

As always, there are some issues that we have to deal with during the week.  One of our recruits, er, I mean "transfer students".  Has yet to show up.  I guess it has something to do with his mother having moved out of our attendance zone.  Of course, we are concerned that if he goes to the school he is zoned to, he could be a formidble opponent, er, I mean have trouble academically and behaviorally.  Even though he had those same issues at our school, we are worried he might have those same issues some where else.  The fact that he has the ability to change the outcome of a game has nothing to do with our concern. 

We also stressed the importance of not using tobacco.  Well, all of us except one.  He had a lip of Copenhagen, and we felt it might be hypocritical, espcially in light of the fact that STATE laws prohibits the posession and use of tobacco on a school campus. 

Finally, we worked on building the self confidence of players that are still intimidated, and unsure of their tacking abilty.  I know that when one of our coaches called them all "pussies" and "chicken shits", that bolstered their confidence. 

Well, I am off to bed.  All those hours in the sun have left me just a wee bit worn.  I am sure after a short night's sleep, I will be fine.

Worfry not parents, your kids are in good hands. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rules? We don't need no stinkin" rules!!!!!!!!

All my apologies to John Huston and to all those tired of this well worn and much abused cliche, but I was at a loss and felt it fit.

In the state of Texas we have the University Interscholastic League (UIL), which was established in order to establish rules and guidelines for interscholastic sports and competitions.  Not only do they establish these guidelines and rules, they have the misfortune of enforcing them.  Being a representative of the UIL is akin to being a DEA agent in a trailer park full of meth labs or a conservative walking the streets of Pelosi's district.

Because there are rules, many coaches adhere to and follow them like the gospel, other coaches figure out how to skirt the rules without going too far, and the arrogant or desperate just choose to violate them.  Arrogant coaches rely on their reputation or the reputation of the school or district to get by.  Desperate coaches violate the rules in order to gain the upper hand they feel they need to compete and hold onto their jobs.  The violations may range from exceeding the allowed practice hours, recruiting student athletes (some in the 6th and 7th grades), pressuring teachers to give passing grades to needed players (never to unneeded), to illegal practices and ignoring the use of banned substances.

As I said, most schools adhere to these rules.  The majority of coaches in the state and honest, upstanding men and women who want to serve as role models for the student athletes they coach.  They see athletics as a metaphor for life and try to prepare students for existence beyond the walls of the school.  They want students to learn from their mistakes, to take responsibility for their actions and become productive members of society.  Should a mistake happen, these are the coaches that will report themselves to the UIL, take responsibility for what happened and willingly accept consequences.  These are the coaches you want your child to have.

Other coaches will use various excuses to justify the bending, if not the outright breaking, of the rules.  Many times they will cite pressure from the community.  Yes, we all want to be winners, and sadly, there are far too many communities in the state that demand it at all costs.  With the "support" of the community, coaches will take chances to see what they can get away with.  The more they can get away with, the more they will do.  Once they have the tacit approval of the community at large, it will snowball.  Ironically, this situation is similar to what you might find in major NCAA programs.  the head coach will be the one skating away to another program while the school, assistant coaches and students are the ones that suffer.

Some coaches will skirt the rules to try to gain a competitive advantage.  Unfortunately, a community will look at the numbers of wins, championships and D1 players a coach produces compared to the number of honor graduates, college bound students, and future doctors, lawyers and teachers that a coach will produce.  When a person is desperate to hold onto their job, they will do what is necessary.  If this means breaking a few rules, then so be it.  Once agin, what are we teaching the kids?

As I said earlier, the large majority of coaches in Texas are doing a great job of dveloping not only good athletes, but good citizens.  They instill positive values and become outstanding role models for the students they coach.  They emphasize the importance of education, self reliance, personal responsibility and hard work.  It may not always result in victories on the court or field, but I would rather have a student succeed in life because of something I taught them than have that student end up lost because they never learned what is truly important.

To the coaches that do choose to break the rules, I have to question why you stay in the business.  You can justify it any way you want, but that doesn't make it right.  "Every one else does" went out in the 3rd grade, and no every one else does not.  "I need to do it to stay competitive, or keep my job" is not going to fly either.  If you have to sell your soul in order to keep a job, is it worth it?  If you can justify it in your mind and sleep at night, then perhaps you need to reconsider your career path.  Perhaps a career in politics or arms trade or telemarketing is more your style.

Friday, August 5, 2011

"Don't waste your time with that one"

As I stated earlier, this week marked the beginning of football practice all across the great state of Texas.  At high schools big and small, thousands of young men entered locker rooms in order to strap on their pads, hit the field and try to win a coveted spot on the varsity roster.  Unknown to most of these young men, most of their dreams were secretly crushed within the first practice or two.  You see, coaches and coordinators have already made decisions about these young men.  I was actually told not to "waste time trying to coach (that kid)," in reference to one young man that was having trouble picking up a concept.  I was told that if I really wanted to work with him, then do it when we were on a water break so that I don't take time from the kids that "matter."  I know I may not be perfect, but I do try and make sure every kid knows that they "matter" some how to the program, but to many of my colleagues, kids like this are good for holding tackling dummies and selling raffle tickets for the booster club.  They have little use for kids that will not make them look good or contribute on Friday nights.

While it is true that many kids will spend more time on the sidelines than between the lines, these are the kids that need to know they "matter".  They want to be a part of something, perhaps for the first time in their life, and know that some one out there is willing to take the time to care about them, no matter how briefly.  Of course that is just the opinion of an Exister.

High School Coaches: The Exister

The Exister is just that, he exists.  Maybe he got into coaching at some point with a sense of higher purpose, but his ideals have been stripped away.  Maybe he has to coach football in order to coach another sport that he truly loves.  Perhaps he was hired under the condition that he has to coach, and his contract stipulates that if he stops coaching, he loses his job, or he needs the money he gets as a stipend for coaching more than he wants to admit.  This is the life of the Exister.

You can always identify the Exister.  He may be the one wearing a hat or shirt from the sport he truly loves.  He is the one that leaves skid marks getting out of the school at night after practice rather than sit around and relive yet another anecdote from one of the Lifers.  He may have a calendar some where that counts down the days until the end of the season.

Such is the life of the Exister.  He is not a bad guy, and he does love the kids, but the sport has worn him out.  He understands that there are guys that live and breathe coaching football, and he either has empathy for them, pity for their families that never get to see them, or a desire to drag the person to the door to show them what the world outside of football looks like.

An Exister generally prefers to work with the less talented athletes, as the talented ones already have enough people blowing smoke up their collective asses.  He tries to make sure that the hours the kids spend on the field leave good memories, but by no means should they end up pumping gas talking about how the time they spent on the field was the best of their life.

An Exister will actually understand if a kid decides to quit, or play another sport, or even put academics ahead of football.  He will look across the room at another Exister and draw an sympathetic look from that coach as they watch the same play for the 32nd time.

Such is the life of the Exister.

Bye-Bye Nutcutter

In case you haven't heard, all around the great state of Texas, football is gearing up.  This is news in itself for those that live and breathe the sport, but add to it the crushing heat, and you have big news.  As teams begin with their infamous two a day practices, we received some news at out school.  One of our nut cutters actually ran off on us.  He had a chance to become a coordinator at another school.  That is good for him.  He wants to become a head coach, and this is a good opportunity for him.  However, he left the staff one coach short, and more importantly, it left the school one teacher short.  Now imagine if you were one of the teachers that had been let go or transferred.  Now you are some where you don't want to be, and this guy gets to just waltz off.  What if you were one of the players that was counting on his being here, now you are handed a big bag of disappointment.

Of course none of this matters to the Nutcutter.  He got what he wanted, consequences be damned.  Of course the staff is now one coach short, but we are actually better off.  Now we don't have to worry about him eviscerating one of us in front of the head coach to make himself look good.  Bye-Bye.