Coaches are forced with many tough decisions on a daily basis. Whether it is an on or off the field issue coaches have to make some difficult disciplinary decisions. The baseball coaches and the administration at Walker Valley High School in Cleveland, TN were faced with an incident involving underage drinking on a spring break trip to South Carolina. The coaches immediately called parents. Packed up the team, forfeited their remaining games, and headed home. The eight players and student manager involved were suspended for two weeks from school. They were also told they were no longer members of the team for the remainder of the year.
I wanted to commend the entire baseball coaching staff and the administration for the decisions they made with the situation at hand. Many coaches across the country don’t have the support that they received from the Superintendent of their school district. It’s refreshing to read about the stance they took against underage drinking by their athletes. So many times these types of situations are pushed under the rug and never heard about and players learn absolutely nothing from their mistakes.
These educators and coaches are teaching life lessons that will have a tremendous impact on the individuals involved. We all have made poor decisions in our lifetime. I have made my share of poor decisions while playing sports and I was fortunate enough to have coaches that took the necessary disciplinary actions to teach me life lessons. It seems today’s society wants coaches educators, and administrations to overlook discipline issues in athletics to allow players to play a game.
As a golf coach in Ohio back in 2004 I was forced with a similar type of decision. Our team was participating in the state district tournament at Bowling Green State University. We went up the day before the tournament for our practice round. After the practice round we checked into the hotel and went swimming in the indoor pool before dinner. After swimming and before dinner two the players (There were only five total) decided they were going to buy cigarettes from the gas station in front of the hotel. They had to talk an adult into buying them for them because they were underage. I happened to walk up when the transaction was taking place. I immediately called the parents and had them come to Bowling Green and pick them up. I then called two of my junior varsity players and asked their parents to bring them up to participate the following day. These two young men learned from their mistake and lead us back to the same tournament the next year and one qualified as an individual for the state tournament that year. Hopefully these young men from Walker Valley High School will learn from their decision and come back next season. This is what playing and coaching sports is all about.
Dr. Bret Simmermacher is the Chair of Sports Coaching at the USSA.
07 APRIL 2016
Bret Simmermacher, DSM