Parents need right perspective on kids’ sports

Being a coach of sports teams at any level is hard. You have to motivate players, learn rules, handle administrative duties and be concerned about the welfare and health of the players.
And you have to make decisions on the starting lineup and who gets cut from the squad.
That all leads to dealing with heavily invested parents, some of whom are paying dearly for equipment. Many attend all the games; some even drive hundreds of miles for out-of-state games if the kids are on a traveling team. They hope their athletic sons and daughters can make the varsity so they can go on to earn a full scholarship at a big-name college.
Circumstances surrounding the surprise resignation of Stillwater Area High School girls hockey coach Tony Scheid has caused quite a stir after a successful 14-year coaching career. In his resignation statement, he cited pressure from parents he and his family could not cope with. Scheid said he realized that school administration no longer was backing him, in part because of parents’ complaints on how he coached the team this past season to a 9-16-2 record. Those close to the situation say the battle with some parents has been brewing for two to three years.
Scheid was successful by all measures.
He had an overall record of 260 wins, 112 losses and 21 ties, including three conference championships, three section titles and two state championships.
In his resignation letter, Scheid said: “Recently I have seen my family being subjected to an unrelenting and vicious personal series of verbal attacks from a group of parents of intensity unlike I could have imagined. Much of the joy of coaching in this program has been taken away by the need to defend my own family from these vicious attacks.”
The school district did not respond to my request for a comment.
Stillwater Gazette Sports Editor Stuart Groskreutz reported that Stillwater Activities Director Ricky Michel was not surprised by the resignation. He said: “I’m disappointed and sad on a personal level. I’m disappointed that it came to a resignation and I’m sad that we’ve lost somebody who has been very dedicated to the program.”
My attempt to reach Scheid was not successful.
We all have heard of problems coaches encounter with certain parents. Recently, the Rosemount Area Athletic Association sponsored a Positive Sports Parenting session to arm adults with the tools to help youth benefit from all sports participation has to offer.
Tad Johnson, writing in the Dakota County Tribune, said the workshop emphasized creating “second goal” parents and coaches who focus on the life lessons of sports and not the outcome of the games.
The Positive Coach Alliance sponsored the workshop.
Ann Mauch, a Positive Coach Alliance-Twin Cities member, told parents: “We are all here for the right reasons – to help our children become better athletes and better people. That’s a win-win for everyone.”
According to the Positive Coach Alliance, said 70 percent of youth stop playing by age 13. They say playing sports isn’t fun anymore. As they age, there’s more focus on wins, losses and success in tournaments than on developing children who are physically and emotionally strong.
The workshop stresses setting positive goals that help kids have a better time, which, Mauch says, means young people will play their sports for more years and win more.
Maybe some parents in Stillwater and all parents of sports participants could benefit from this kind of workshop.
Don Heinzman is a columnist for ECM Publishers.

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