I get to coach high school basketball. It's the most fun I have in a day. Those are also the two or more hours that I spend working with your son or daughter. There are times when it is still the most fun I have in a day, but not as fun as I know it should be.
One thing that makes coaching less enjoyable is the entitlement that I see more players show. They are entitled to playing time or a certain role on the team because it is their turn as a returning player or upperclassman.
Coaches want and need players who can earn playing time. Sure, there are some players that have an advantage in basketball: the tall, the strong and the highly skilled, but when things are about equal, the attitude and effort player will get the nod. Almost always.
I have played hard-workers over the more talented. I have played kids that are hard to get to know over kids that I really liked. I have played healthy players over sick players. I have played performance over potential, and I have played a great team player over a selfish player. I have played a raw athlete over a more basketball-savvy player.
I cannot, however, think of a time that I played kids at the varsity level that I didn't think were the best in that moment to allow us to compete. Another issue is parent overreach. Parents know that it's not acceptable to complain about playing time. So the "ice-breaker" has to be something else.
Communication: the argument is the coach is a poor communicator and my athlete is confused about why he/she: gets subbed out, starts some games and not others, only plays "in the paint," doesn't have the "green light" on shooting 3s. Team chemistry: this can mean coming in to provide information (for the benefit of team, of course) about something negative that they have heard about another player. It may be pointing out how your athlete really plays better when surrounded by better players. Both conversations come back to playing time. There is rarely a satisfactory resolution, because the problem was not communication or team chemistry. So the frustration continues. As a coach, we celebrate when your kid gets an "A," a driver's license or accepted to college. We attend funerals when a grandparent or parent dies. We call home to check on players after an injury. We ask about homework. We discipline. We remind players to drive safely, get plenty of rest and to eat healthy. e slip meal money to players who don't have any. We correct and instruct after a mistake, and encourage when players struggle in the gym, at home or at school.
We don't do it because we have to; we do it because it is part of who we are, and because we really care about your kid.
Hard job. No complaints. Remember, it is still the most fun I have in a day.
Alderman is the assistant girls basketball coach at Fargo South High School.