Monday, March 30, 2009

I'd like to coach the coach on how to coach

The days of Jennifer playing softball are behind us now. What you say? already? yes, already. We had such an issue with her coach, and after 4 weeks i just left it up to Jennifer, as to whether she wanted to play or not. she chose not. And i must say 'Good for her'. Here's the story.

When we moved up to Waltons Mountain, i felt it was the answer to my prayers. i was no longer being beaten or stalked by my fat sister in law. But, what i failed to realize, that when the big fat Saquatch looking sister in law beat the daylights out of me (Lisa Tice the textbook 345 pounds of Sasquatch love) she not only hurt me, but hurt Jennifer as well. She reacted by slipping in school, hanging out with the wrong kids, backtalking, all things that Jennifer had NEVER done before. So, the week before Christmas, Jennifer threatened to move next door to live with her friend (okay, that is a bit funny) i figured enough is enough.

i set up a meeting with her counselor at school. This man is a godsend. He immediately helped me get Jennifer on a work study program because i wanted to pull her out of school the last week before Christmas. She also sees a psychologist once a week on Tuesdays. He also suggested that she get involved in school projects. One suggestion was Softball. Jennifer seemed to really want to do this, so she signed up for the tryouts. I informed the coach, whose name i'll change to Harlene Haniels, that Jennifer was brand new to any sports. The coach said ' no problem'.

Jennifer was at practice every day, working very hard. One day, she texted me from school, and said 'I made Varsity'. i still have this text in my phone. She was so proud of herself, as were her dad and i. Jennifer was up every day at 6 for school, and would be home at 6pm after school AND practice. She was exhausted, but loved it. Her grades were still down in the dumps, but she was trying again, and thats what i liked!

Because her grades were low, the coach asked her to bring the weekly 'monitor' or 'progress report' to practice, which Jennifer did. Then it began to happen. The first practice game against another school, i was sitting in the car, watching the game, and noticed that Jennifer hadnt played yet. I just figured because she was new, she'd just watch and learn. Then when the game was almost over, the coach said to Jennifer 'you DO know why you arent playing don't you?'. Jennifer said 'No'. the coach said 'your grades'. WHAT? i immediately got out of the car, went to the coach, who was gossiping with some parents, and pretty much ignored me. So i told Jennifer 'pack your stuff up, lets go'. The athletic director came up to me, asked me what the problem was, and by this point i was gone, and gave him a few choice words and Jennifer and I left. i was very angry at the manner which the Coach handled this.

i did email him on Monday, and apologized for my outburst. he said it was in the rulebook that if the grades were below a 2.0 the student could not play. While i understand this, we never got the rules. And my question to him, was why was the coach asking for a monitor every week, if she wasnt allowed to play? When i finally got a rulebook from the Athletic Director, NOT THE COACH, the rules were written by a 3rd grader, and were not clear about the scholastic eligibility rules. He agreed with me on this, and we did a new check on her grades, which by this time were back up above 2.0, and she was allowed to play.

The coach apparently wasnt on the same page as the Athletic director because the next day she told me that Jennifer wasnt eligible to play and that she could not ride the bus to the away game. When i asked the Athletic Director about this, he said that the information she had was incorrect and he would talk to the Coach. What is that saying 'One hand doesnt know what the other one is doing'?

Then came the first away game, the 2nd game of the year. they took the bus to Borrego Springs, and Jennifer got to play. She got a hit, and got to base THREE times in the teams victory. She was awarded the game ball, and she was so proud of herself. We put the ball in a special place on my desk. The next morning the Coach left a voice mail on my phone, asking me to call her. i figured it was a congratulatory phone call for Jennifer doing so well. Wrong! The coach said that she was worried that Jennifer wasnt as good as the other girls, that she kept getting hurt, and it was becoming a concern. She said that in the game a ball got away from Jennifer, and she didnt do anything about it. i asked the coach if she talked to Jennifer about it, and she said no'.

While i can understand if a child is not making an effort, the coach should be doing her job and COACHING the child. she knew going in that Jennifer didnt know squat about playing, and that was going to be her job to help her learn. and, if my child was getting hurt, WHY WAS I NEVER NOTIFIED? The coach constantly discussed Jennifers skills in front of the other girls, something that should have been done in private. The coach also told me that the girls were constantly complaining about Jennifers lack of skill. Another thing i wasnt told about until 4 weeks in! This coach had my email, phone number, knew my car, and saw me show up at practice every day almost an hour before practice was over, yet never talked to me about this?

if it would have been handled better, i would not have had a problem with Jennifer being 'demoted' to JV. after all it is about her safety. But, when Jennifer failed to live up to their expectations, why didn't someone work with her at practice? why was i never notified? Especially if she was getting hurt, why didn't someone call me? If you wanted her to demote, why ask her to play in a game?

i dont make excuses for Jennifer, she's got to learn. I knew that Jennifer was sports impaired (so to speak) but i thought, maybe i'm too close to the subject. So when they chose her for Varsity, I thought, maybe i'm just being too critical. I was hoping maybe they saw something in Jennifer that i didn't know about. So Jennifer has learned a lesson here. In her mind, she's learned that she shouldn't try out for something that she has never done before. While i know thats not right, but to her, that is the message that was sent. i'm trying to tell her that she should not give up, but she's pretty dejected. Thats why i'm meeting with the principal today, to file a complaint about the coaches questionable skills. I mean, what if Jennifer had been seriously hurt? If this coach would have done her job WEEKS AGO, both the coach AND i could have talked to Jennifer. We could have put in extra practice time, taken her to batting cages, SOMETHING. But as it is, we're just damned lucky nothing serious happened.

There are a couple of good things that have come out of all of this. Jennifers grades are back up to just under a B. This from a D-. we're really proud of this. Mountain Empire has a great after school program, and they offer guitar lessons. Jennifer has asked about this for a while, and when this opportunity presented itself, she jumped on it. This after school program is free, and offers homework help, field trips, etc. Also, the child that i raised and brought up with me to Pine Valley (aka Waltons Mountain) is back. She's back to spending time with her family. She's polite, works hard, and seems happy. i know she's a teenager, and along with that comes teenage angst. But, i am welcoming the child that i know back!.

here's Jennifer in her baseball uni.

Sorry so long, but i just had to scribble. Maybe i'll just print this blog out and bring it to the principal.

UPDATE: i spoke with the principal, who was extremely nice. In all my years of parenting, i've never had one that i could bond with. i showed her ALL of the emails between the Athletic Director, the coach, and myself. She was impressed with my analness. She said she was disappointed in the coach and would be handling it immediately. Then she talked to Jennifer, and told her not to give up just because Adults let her down. After school, Jennifer had her first lesson on the guitar today, and learned Smoke On The Water. Tomorrow they are starting Drivers Ed classroom training.