Archive for the ‘coaching’ Category

A Lesson to Be Learned

March 14, 2016

A while back we told you about the fight at a girls’ high school basketball game in Indiana that resulted in the suspension of both teams from the rest of this season.

Pike High meeting

Photo Courtesy: Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star.

Now, as Paul Harvey might say, here is the rest of the story.

After both the Pike and Ben Davis girls’ basketball teams were suspended after the on-court brawl, most everyone thought that would be the end of the issue. But Anucha Browne saw it as an opportunity for a life lesson for everyone involved.

Browne is NCAA vice president for women’s basketball championships. And she comes in with a hoops pedigree: She starred at Northwestern and led the country in scoring in 1985 with a 30.5 points per game average. And she decided she needed to talk with these players.

“I thought it was important to be in their space and help them understand that those split-second decisions can change the rest of their lives,” she told the Indianapolis Star. “I took pride in owning the fact that those young people deserve another chance and to have a dialogue with somebody who has been where they are. I want to be impactful in their lives.”

Browne met with the Pike team last week—she’s scheduled to meet with Ben Davis next week. Neither high school appealed the suspensions, although Pike did ask the Indiana High School Athletic Association to reevaluate its process in ruling on fighting at games.

“These are just young people, and you have to invest in young people,” Browne continued. “We tell our kids to be sportsmen, but what does that mean? I think to have that dialogue and talk to them about the impact of their behavior and what they do is important. It says everything about them.”

As for the school, Pike Athletic Director Doug Schornick said the meeting with Browne was another step in the healing process. “I think the message coming from somebody of her background was perfect,” he said. “We’re going to get stronger. All our programs are going to get stronger.”

Kudos to Browne for reaching out to both teams after a devastating end to their seasons. Let’s hope the schools, and especially the players, learn and grow from it.

A Win Comes with a Price

February 29, 2016

 

Score

Photo courtesy of Troy Machir, Sporting News.

 

The coach of a California high school girls’ basketball team was suspended two games for a big win.

And we mean, big.

Arroyo Valley High School defeated Bloomington High School, 161-2 last month. And it’s not first time Arroyo Valley had won by large margins. The Hawks had scored more than 100 points twice before, but this 159-point win created enough backlash that the school felt it needed to act and suspended Coach Michael Anderson for the two games.

Not that benching the coach made much of a difference. In the first game without Coach Anderson, Arroyo Valley won, 80-19. The Hawks were coached by Anderson’s 19-year-old son.

For his part, Anderson said he talked with the Bloomington head coach before the game, explaining that this was the Hawks’ last game before league play and that his team was going to play hard. “I wanted to let him know there was no harm intended,” Anderson told the Orange County Register, “and that if he had any ideas or concerns just to let me know.”

Anderson benched his starters at halftime and told his players in the second half to run the shot clock down before trying to score, but it still ended up as a beyond-lopsided final score. And Bloomington’s head coach, Dale Chung, told the San Bernardino County Sun he wasn’t happy with the outcome. “People shouldn’t feel sorry for my team,” he said. “They should feel sorry for his team, which isn’t learning the game the right way.”

A few times a year, we read about this kind of a game—is it the coach’s fault for running up the score or is it the opposing team’s fault for not putting up more of a fight? In several high school sports, football and basketball included, many state associations allow a running clock if the score is lopsided—in California, a running clock isn’t allowed until the fourth quarter.

There’s a fine line between sportsmanship and letting players play. The reserves want to show their skills and often take the opportunity in ‘garbage time’ to do just that, at the expense of an undermanned opponent. The talent level is so inconsistent in youth sports, including high school girls’ basketball, that blowouts do happen. A two-game suspension probably won’t stop Arroyo Valley from winning by 100+ points again this season. The lesson for the players may be, how those games are won.

Changes ahead for youth football?

January 11, 2016

The new year could be bringing a new look to youth football around the country. Case in point: Somerville, Massachusetts, has announced its recreation department is changing the city’s youth football program from tackle to “non-contact” flag football for kids in first through eighth grade.

youth-football.jpg

Photo courtesy Grand Forks Park District

In an article published by boston.com, city officials cited concerns nationwide over increases in injuries for young players in contact football, as well as declining enrollment in the city’s contact program. The changes were announced this past week, to go into effect this summer.

“Particularly over the past few years, the rise in injuries among young people playing contact football, both in game situations and during regular practices, demonstrates a need for us to reevaluate the programs we offer to our youngest residents,” Jill Lathan, the city’s director of Recreation and Youth, said. “Somerville Recreation has a history of providing programs and opportunities for youth of all ages and interest levels, but we also have a commitment to keep our children safe while they have fun.”

Lathan also said the recreation department will continue to support those who want to continue to play in a contact football program, like Pop Warner, through its equipment rental program, but the city will not sponsor a tackle football program for young players.

“Interest and participation in flag football is increasing both in Somerville and nationwide, and we are excited to be able to offer the program here in Somerville that will teach youth the necessary skills if they do choose to participate in contact football at an older age,” Lathan said.

The city seems to be following recommendations made by Dr. Bennet Omalu, famously portrayed by Will Smith in the new movie, “Concussion,” who said in an op-ed piece in the New York Times last month that there should be a minimum age to play tackle football because children’s developing brains should be protected from concussions. While few believe that the minimum age will be set at 18, as Dr. Omalu suggests, this move by Somerville shows that municipalities are taking the threat of brain injuries seriously and are taking steps to try to keep players safer.

Attitudes sometimes need adjusting

June 22, 2015

As much as we focus on youth sports events and facilities, it’s good to, every once in a while, talk about the players themselves who participate in athletics, sometimes year-round.

Youth basketball

Photo Credit: Greater Cincinnati Sports Corporation

A recent article on theseason.gc.com by Tori Benavidez, a former softball player at Sam Houston State, now an associate softball coach there, brings that focus back to the players. The article puts a lot of the responsibility of developing and keeping players in the game at the feet of the coaches in her article, “Five Components of a Positive Culture.” Those include:

Attitude: A positive attitude, she says, helps the entire team grow. “Eventually those with a negative attitude will start standing out, and it will be your responsibility to correct this issue,” she says.

Mindset: “Athletes constantly go through ups and downs,” says Tori, “but those who are successful are the ones whose failures do not faze them.”

Reinforcement: Positive reinforcement, Tori says, should follow positive effort, while on the other hand, “negative reinforcement should always follow extreme habits that you want to eliminate from your team’s culture.”

Perseverance: Because in sports, most of the time you fail more than you succeed, Tori says it’s important to instill perseverance. “Perseverance makes a player a go-getter rather than someone who sits back and watches everything unfold,” she says. “Your culture should always consist of fighting, battling and giving it your all to achieve your stated goals.”

Passion: Finally, Tori says, if you have the luxury, choose players with passion. “Those passionate players will constantly give it their all, and you want that imitated in your culture.”

Those are attributes to follow not only in sports, but also in life. Great coaches instill those lessons that last a lifetime, both on and off the field and the courts.