Parents Should Walk A Mile In Coach's Moccasins


by Ira Gibel

Pine, Retired teacher and coach

It was great to read the article in Max Foster's column quoting former Duke University's All-American basketball player, Dick Devenzio.

I agreed 100 percent with his comments about relations with coaches.

I am recently retired in Pine after teaching in high school in New York for 32 years and coaching for 36 years. I am currently helping to coach the Pine/Strawberry Middle School wrestling team.

I have coached wrestling the longest time, but I also have experience in coaching football, tennis, soccer, lacrosse, and volleyball. I have coached both boys and girls teams.

Whenever an athlete from another team had approached me and said, "I just can't play for that coach, we don't get along." I have always translated that into: "I just don't want to participate anymore in that sport."

Why? Because it usually means the athlete doesn't want to make the commitment or put in the time, or follow the training, rules, etc.

I realize there may be some exceptions to this. Not every coach is perfect and there are ineffectual and overzealous coaches. But that matter should come to the administrators and they should be making the calls.

I wanted to add to my comments about basketball coach (Randy Wilcox) who just resigned.

There was a particular nasty occurrence at my high school in New York when a football coach was forced out because of the lack of success of his teams. He was an excellent coach and motivator, but there happened to be a lack of talent, we played in a tough league and, unfortunately, there was a lot of public and parental pressure. The district gave in and he was removed.

I was the varsity wrestling coach and when our season began on the first day of practice, I played a scene from the film "Hoosiers." It is about a coach who is given a chance to coach basketball at a small Indiana school. The parents were at the practices and the first thing he did was to close the gym to outsiders and coach his way without interference. The coach was ultimately successful, if you rate coaches on wins and losses, but that was not the point. His success was based on the discipline that he coached his players and all the other values a coach tries to impart to his players.

It is unfortunate that so many high school coaches have to deal with that additional pressure besides the tremendous time and effort that coaching requires. I understand that losing on the college and professional levels will cost you your positions, but high school coaches are on another level.

The pay for most high school coaches is pathetic. Most are coaching because they love the sport and they love to coach.

They are trying to teach positive values and the importance of discipline, keeping up your grades, respecting your parents and peers and learning how to get along and becoming a better person.

There's an old Indian saying, "If you want to understand a person, you should walk a mile in his moccasins."

I wish that all the people who criticize coaches could coach for one month. I seriously doubt if they could last a week.

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