Roster cuts is the most gut-wrenching decision youth coaches must make. Even after conducting fair, equitable try-out sessions, it's extremely difficult to tell a youngster he cannot participate. While cuts have long been a fact of life in sports society, they go against the grain for all good coaches.
For young athletes, being excluded from the final team selection can be a heartbreaking experience.
Such was the case early this week at Rim Country Middle School when the Maverick basketball team rosters were trimmed.
On the 7th- and 8th-grade boys and girls teams, coaches were forced to reduce their numbers of almost 25 athletes to a more manageable roster of 14. Those who didn't make the squads were understandably upset. But, they should take heart in the fact that there is another basketball program to turn to. The Town of Payson Parks and Recreation Department is sponsoring 7th- and 8th-grade boys and girls basketball leagues that will begin play Feb. 17. Contests will be played Saturdays and some weekday evenings until March 31.
Registration began Jan. 8 and will continue until Jan. 19 at the Parks and Rec offices located at Green Valley Park. The fee is $20, which includes T-shirt and team pizza party. If team vacancies exist after Jan. 19, a late registration will be held at a fee of $25.
The program offers young players the opportunity to work on their skills and continue to develop their love of the sport. Parents who have children who didn't make the school teams should strongly encourage them to wipe away the disappointment and focus their energies on the Parks and Rec program.
In our society, there are thousands of examples of exceptional athletes who when they were younger were cut or excluded from their teams. The gawking, stumbling youngster of today can easily blossom into tomorrow's graceful, talented and well-conditioned athlete.
In fairy tales, the phenomena is astutely told in "The Ugly Duckling," when a seemingly unattractive and inept young duck turns into a beautiful white swan.
In athletics, of course, work ethic plays a huge role in a young player's development and his/her chances of being named to the school team. It's not enough these days to show up for the first day of practice and expect to excel.
Last summer, Payson hosted several youth sports camps that were designed to build skills in the youngsters who enrolled. And when not participating in camps, maybe son or daughter should be out in the driveway shooting hoops or developing coordination and determination in one-on-one games.
When try-outs approach, parents have a responsibility to encourage their children to prepare for the big event by engaging in running, stretching and strength enhancement programs. Such a regimen ensures children will have the distinct advantage of being in top physical condition for the tryouts.
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi said it best: "Fatigue makes cowards of us all."
Lying on the couch playing video games doesn't do much to enhance the skill, mental toughness or condition of any young athlete.