Bad News Bears

My middle daughter is relatively athletic.  She loves basketball, which she crushes at, but in the summer she’s a softball kind of girl.

This year is her first year of girls’ fastpitch softball.  She’s in a travel league through our city’s recreation center.  Her team plays against other local recreation center teams.  Some of those teams have been playing fastpitch for a few years already so they have a little advantage.

Because most kids going through rec center leagues only have limited experience, whatever they learned from their parents/siblings and previous volunteer coaches, the skill levels of the players vary widely.  Rec center leagues usually start around ages 5 or 6.  When I was assistant coach for 13-15 year olds, many still couldn’t even catch a ball.  So, it’s not surprising that on a team of 10 – 12 year olds, many still don’t know the fundamentals of softball.

It is difficult.  Coaches are volunteers.  In our city, coaches have to submit to a background check and a drug test for every sport every year.  A friend of the family coaches basketball, baseball, and football.  Every sport season, he has to take the time to sign off for a new background check and go to take a drug test.  There is never more than 3 months between seasons, and he still has to repeat this process every time.   And that is just so he can volunteer more of his time to coach!

Then you have to put up with mouthy kids and mouthy parents.  The mouthiest parents are those that didn’t attend any practices, but show up the first game to tell the coach exactly how he or she should be instructing the kids.  It is a completely thankless job.

So what do I do when my daughter’s coach is a douche? During practice, he provided no constructive criticism to the girls.  No matter what flounder-like mistakes they made, he sat there quiet.  During games, he stood as base coach and didn’t instruct the girls at all.  No telling them to stop at first, never told them to take another base.

Girls would overrun second and third, the team on defense would drop the ball, and the parents would be screaming in the stands to let the girl know she needed to get back on the bag.  Our girls on defense would watch a ball drop in front of them and freeze.  The coach was mute. So, the parents would yell to the girl to pick it up.

So, with a 0 and 7 record, the coach has started talking crap to the kids.   He told one girl who played pitcher that she lost the game for the team.  This is an 11 year old girl, her first time playing fastpitch, her season of pitching.  She knows she made mistakes.  It’s going to take a few years, and loads of practice, to get some good pitchers.  But this guy told her she lost the game.  She did.  There is no doubt about it.  Defense didn’t help either as they made several errors.

But this guy told her she lost the game.  He didn’t provide any constructive criticism.  He didn’t recommend that she work with a pitching coach.  And most importantly, he didn’t pull her from the game.  He left her in there, struggling, then cut her down afterward.

There is a college pitcher who has been offering pitching lessons for the girls. $5/half hour.  The coach should have recommended that the young pitcher work with the pitching coach.  He should have given her the pitching coach’s phone number. He could have just not put her in as pitcher again.  But instead he chose this moment to finally say something to one of these girls and this is what he said!?!?!

After the last game, he made some snide remark as he glared at my daughter.  I wasn’t there.  I was at my son’s baseball game.  A friend of mine was there.  She was really angry.  I have no problem at all if the coach calls out my daughter when she’s made an error.  But tell her what she did wrong and what she should have done instead.  This passive aggressive crap is unacceptable.

My oldest played softball through the rec center league and played on the high school fastpitch team her sophomore year.  She would have played this season also if she hadn’t broken her leg right before the season started.   She wants to coach Thing 2’s team next year.  She tries to work with them when she’s at practices now.  And she gives the girls advice when she’s at games.  Even if Thing 1 isn’t the greatest coach, she will be better than this.

I don’t care if the kids lose every game.  Well, no parent wants to see their kid’s team lose every game.  But the coach shouldn’t make them feel bad about it on top of it.  Certainly, the girls shouldn’t feel good about losing.  A good coach would talk to the girls, point out their mistakes in an instructive manner and tell them what they should have done instead.  This way, instead of just feeling bad and hopeless about repeated team losses, the kids have a course of action.  There is a goal other than just making it through another game.

It’s too bad that background screen didn’t screen for douchebags.

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