February 15, 2023

coaching, part III: vote on an option & give me a voice, please

*If this Wednesday post confused you, well - it confused me too. I was surprised to see that I'd scheduled this to post today instead of my usual Thursday. Must've been on autopilot.  Glad you're here - you're not late. I was early. 

What to do, if anything? (part 1 & part 2)

1.  Transfer. I told Coach that if Reg wants to transfer to the local Catholic high school where his cousins go for his senior year, I'm not gonna stop him. Not the far-away all boys' school that we prefer, so I don't think he'd need a waiver to play there. 

The coach at that school has a son on Reg's AU team and I'm not really impressed with this guy. My nephew, Alan, Reg's best bud -made the basketball team there, but that coach was horrible to him. Alan has asthma. Essentially the guy told him that kids with asthma can't play basketball. Um, come again? Both of my brothers played basketball at ND and Pat is a severe asthmatic. My brother, Mike (Alan's dad), sat behind the bench to get a feel for how this guy coaches and he was disturbed. The coach was not encouraging. A screamer. Mike has coached travel ball. He coached Reg one year. He's a level-headed, guy. I don't think Reg will go this route. 

thanks GIFHY.COM

2.  Sit down with the athletic director and explain what has gone on. This is the most logical, direct route, but also the most risky. It doesn't feel like an option. The athletic director is buddies with Ego. Note that there was no interview process when he hired Ego. I don't trust that he can handle our concerns in a professional fashion. 

3.  Safety in numbers. Gather up other upset parents and make a case. (Parents of a  sophomore named 'Anthony', a starter, want Ego gone. Their son pukes before all of the games now. A new development). This is a challenge because no one wants their kid to deal with Ego's repercussions in the classroom. Plus, if the ousting doesn't happen and he still gets to coach - it could be ugly. 

A kid named Jay is a sophomore. He starts. He's very good, but not as big as Reg. He is a great 3-point shooter, but he's had games when he misses 8 threes, or 3 or 4. It happens. Does Ego tell Jay to stop shooting? No, he does not. He's also not as effective under the basket, because he doesn't have a lot of bulk to him. Ego made Jay a team captain along with a senior - sort of a slap in the face to Reg, who started every game last year and is the only returning all-conference player. The other one graduated. I don't think it had much to do with leadership, since this quiet sophomore is not exactly a team leader. 

At any rate, Jay's parents don't see Ego's issues. Ego doesn't mistreat Jay, he designs plays so that Jay can shoot and then tells Reg:  WE'VE GOT TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET YOU TO SCORE MORE. Finally, there are a number of kids on the team whose parents aren't involved/don't attend games, etc. 

*editing to add:  Ego did tell Jay in Sat. night's game to stop shooting. Hmm. The plot thickens. 

4.  Ask the AD to get feedback from the kids on the team, since I now realize that many of them recognize the nonsense. The seniors might not care. Ego is pretty popular with the student body. He's off-color in the classroom, inappropriate even - so high school boys often think he's funny. 

5. Ask the principal to replace the coach, or to step in. We got a new principal this year. He's not receptive. Unapproachable and has a weird agenda. He opened the school year with an assembly and launched into a description of how he woke up as a kid to his dad beating his mom. Totally irrelevant in a 'let's have a great school year' address, right? He then talked about how he'd seen some kids not adhering to the dress code. (necklines that were too revealing, etc.). He actually said (and this was quoted in a local online newspaper):  I'M NOT A PEDIFILE. DON'T MAKE ME ONE. 

thanks GIFHY.COM

What.On.Earth? My sweet, little freshman daughter told me she was shocked, appalled, and disturbed. 

6. Reach out to our former principal. The principal, who left our school to go to our cross-town rival district, was nothing short of amazing. It's a stretch, but I've seriously considered reaching out to her. She was engaging, invested, approachable. Her decision to leave honestly played a role in our consideration to leave the school last year. I was hopeful that we'd get a decent replacement, but I've been incredibly disappointed. I'd love to see if she has a creative approach to our situation, but I'm sure she's also very busy. 

7.  Ask the athletic director at the high school in our split district to plead our case/give us guidance. There are two high schools in our district. The other school's AD is about to retire. He's well liked and seasoned. The issue with this option is that it would be almost impossible for him to explain what has gone on without making it clear that we are the family most upset - but there are other frustrated families and maybe they'd be more comfortable speaking up if anonymity was an option. Also, he might just be a good source of YOUR BEST BET IS TO . . . 

8.  Reg's guidance counselor. I already reached out to the guidance counselor to see if she had any suggestions after the day when I feared Reg might have a seizure. She knows me well and gets that I'm not a nut job. Well, mostly anyway. She listened and was very apologetic. She looked into it, but ultimately said I'd have to go through the AD. She also suggested that I contact the chair of the history department to address the classroom issues. I do have Reg's tale and twin 'C's as well. I trust the history chair, because she's a woman and not part of the 'ole boys' network like the AD. Can I get an AMEN? 

thanks GIFHY.COM

9. Suck-it-up-buttercup.  This is my least favorite option, but I recognize that it might be the route we accept (kicking and screaming). I know we can't control everything, but HEY HIGH SCHOOL, DO YOU WANNA REIMBURSE US FOR THE PSYCH BILLS? Untie my hands, damn it. 

Anthony (the kid who pukes before games) - his mom texted me this week:  I JUST DON'T THINK IT'S A WINNABLE BATTLE. That put me in a bad mood all day. 

As a kid, I was often told to stop being dramatic when I claimed things weren't fair (um, they weren't), or I was glossed over, or Pat's antics targeting me were treated as entertainment vs mean spirited bull shit. 

In other words, I don't like to feel like I don't have a voice. Been there, done that. Reg might not be perfect, but when it comes to basketball he's committed, hard working, and driven. He's a team player. 

Please tell me what you think we should do, if anything. Or do you have a more creative solution? Please share. Thanks for hanging in to hear the whole story. Much appreciated. 


Nicole MacPherson said...

Sorry, stuck on "I'm not a pedophile, don't make me one." What even is that. I can't even. I have become completely wordless.
I have no idea what to do in this situation. On one hand, we all have to deal with shitty people in the world. On the other, this guy is really shitty and these are kids that are dealing with him. So, I really don't know what's best to do, but I wish you the best of luck in dealing with it.

Beth Cotell said...

I would choose option 9 and be praying the whole time that something changes with the coach. Or, if I could get up enough courage (I am extremely non-confrontational)would have a conversation after the season is over with the coach. But, I would have to be very drunk for that to happen so option 9 it is!

But seriously, I hope Reg is okay mentally and physically after all of this and that you guys can determine what's best for him for next year.

Maureen said...

This truly pains me to say but I think this may not be a winnable battle. And I think that is horrid. Clearly this coach should not be coaching. But from what you describe, he sounds like the kind of individual who will make things worse for your son if you confront the situation. Unfortunately the true helicopter parents have shaped the world in such a way that when real intervention is needed by parents today, such intervention is labeled as intrusive and kids are called "soft." This coach sounds really destructive. But it sounds like he and the AD are in it together.

If Reg really wants you to intervene then you should but it would be a lot more effective if you could join forces with at least one other family. So sorry you are going through this. What an unnecessary, destructive situation.

Bijoux said...

Normally, you are supposed to address things through the chain of command, but obviously if you feel that the AD is buddies with him, that doesn’t feel like much of an option. I guess I’d go with approaching the principal with other parents, though the pedophile comment was highly disturbing.

Colleen said...

I would document everything and then send it to the AD anonymously.

Pat Birnie said...

I literally gasped out loud at “I'm not a pedophile, don't make me one”. My husband sitting across the room said “what’s wrong?”

I’m afraid it may be in unwinnable battle. There were times when my kids had crappy teachers or coaches that I just told them - yup not fair & it sucks but that will happen sometimes in life”. My only suggestion is to discuss with one of your sources in the hopes of getting suggestions on how to deal with the situation.

Ernie said...

Nicole - I KNOW. I KNOW. BELIEVE YOU, ME. This was Curly's first day of high school. She is a sweet, sport-loving, sheltered girl. What on earth? This happened mere weeks after we'd thrown up our hands and decided that we couldn't send the kids to the Catholic, single-gender high school that we preferred. It was a bitter pill to swallow. I've heard from others that he is not-responsive. So, he only responds to dress code violations, then? This takes lots of deep breathing to send my kids to that building. Fortunately, we LOVE most of the teachers and many of the coaches there. I only had to reach out to the former amazing principal once, so I'd hoped to just skate through for the next four years, but now here I am with an idiot, inappropriate coach. Sigh.

Kara said...

8 is already a non-starter. The Guidance Counselor knows, but can't do anything. But is a safe space for the kids.
6 & 7 are decent options, at least in a way to get a starting point of how to work around the Ole Boy Network.
2 & 5 sound to be the most personally dangerous. The new Principal sounds useless, and you know the Ole Boy Network will make life hell for Reg and possibly Curley as well.
3 & 4 might work, IF you can get more than one family to step up, and also recognize that this may also backfire on everyone. Families may have to be willing to walk away from high school basketball entirely. Ego sounds so weird- is he betting on the team or something?
1 & 9 are passive options that you won't WIN with, but you won't LOSE either. Perhaps the best, but not the most satisfying.

There is no real good answer and it sucks that this is happening.

Ernie said...

Beth - It is my fear that we have to go with 9. I am laughing at your need to be drunk to talk to the coach. I would NOT consider talking to the coach, because it would most likely end with him black and blue. He is narcissistic anyway, so there would really be no point. I'd still like to talk to the AD, since it is his job. It really irks me to think that this loser could get away with this. He consdiers himself untoucable. Maybe it's a character flaw on my part, but I want to prove him wrong.

Reg told us another story last night that made me cringe. Reg insisted that he was able to let it roll off, but he also admitted earlier in the week that his confidence was shot again after the coach told him to stop shooting Sat night when he missed a number of shots. He'd come off a week of AMAZING games. Who knows. He is crazy about his cousin, so maybe he changes schools?

Ernie said...

Maureen - Ugh, I hope you are wrong, but not sure how to proceed. We have another week left of the season. I think I will chat with the sophomore parents that I know who dealt with him last year, and see if they would consider going forward with thoughts on the season their sons had last year. Destructive - good word. Exactly what he is. You raise a good point about true helicopter parents and Ego uses that word SOFT a lot. He also calls the kids pumpkins a lot. That was what Reg explained last night.

The season is almost over. One thing Reg says often is that instead of giving the kids plays or techinques to use in a game, Ego just tells them to beat the defense or not to turn the ball over - without a good play to beat the press, how does one manage that? Such a mess. Thanks for commenting.

Ernie said...

Bijoux - As much as I don't want to go to the AD, I tend to believe that people should do their job and this is part of his. He is getting paid a very nice salary to handle things. I was very annoyed at Curly's playoff game last night - hosted by our school. They didn't bother to utilize the entire scoreboard, only the score and the clock. They didn't put the girls' numbers up with points scored, etc. That would NEVER have been acceptable for the boys' team. What on earth? Anyway, I think I'll wait a week or two until the season is officially over and touch base with the few parents who I know see the issues, and get a read on Reg and then move on from there. The principal's opening remarks - staggeringly strange.

Ernie said...

Colleen- This is a good option, but my fear is that most of the points I can make reflect directly back to Reg. Hmm.

Ernie said...

Pat - It sure was a strange remark. I so loved our last principal. She was very attentive and tuned in and FAIR. I'd been telling myself that my kids stay out of trouble and I could hope to avoid needing to involve him in anything. Then BAM, COACH FROM HELL.

I will be testing the waters and poling the other parents who I know would at least consider speaking up. I keep going back to the fact that dealing with this IS the AD's job. If he cares about his job, then he ought to handle this appropriately whether it is a buddy or not. Still, like isn't fair so who knows. I'll keep you posted.

Ernie said...

Kara - Thanks for your very thorough input. It is a tough situation. A real bind. I just glanced through the magazine sent out by the Catholic high school where Coach and I went. Dang, I'd give my right arm for Reg to go there (I'm a lefty). It's 45 minutes away, but he could move in with my BIL/SIL. They will have a son starting as a freshman. I assume it'll be the same as the school closer to our home - sit out for a year. Fun to dream though. If we lived closer to that school, I think we would've done anything to send our kids there. Still not sure what we will do, if anything. I think we will chat with Reg at the end of the season - and the other parents who are annoyed or who see things clearly, and go from there. Oh, I don't think he is betting on the games - I think he's a narcissistic moron.

Kari said...

I'm shocked that your principal said that. I mean, how does he have a job? That is horrible.

What does Reg think about all of this? What does his gut instinct tell him? Perhaps he has some some of the answers.

You mentioned near the end of the post that you were overlooked growing up and that your feelings were not always taken into account. That, I believe, is why you are so passionate about these issues with your kids. I hope there is a solution that makes sense for all of you. 😘💕

Charlie said...

Wow! What a very strange and totally inappropriate remark from the Principal. My vote would go to moving schools, especially if you had been considering it anyway. I know our kids have to learn to live with all different characters, but Principal and Ego both sound like a very special kind of crazy that really can’t be reasoned with. And your AD sounds dreadful too. Good luck and Reg sounds like a lovely lad

Ernie said...

Kari - The principal - such a weird comment. Who leads a first day school assemply with that? And combines it with a story about when his dad used to beat his mom? Read the room, dude.

Reg wants a new coach, but we plan to wait till the season is over to touch base with him and see what direction he wants us to take, if any.

That is exactly why I want to be heard . . . didn't always happen growing up.

Ernie said...

Charlie - 'a very special kind of crazy' - ha, indeed he is. I'd like to believe the AD would do his job, but he thought it was a good idea to hire this creep, so it might be hard for him to eat crow and make a change. AGAIN. I don't think Reg will switch schools, because it is his senior year - but if he would rather go to the school with his cousin and other kids he knows from b-ball, then I will support that. It really bums me out that the Ed had a great experience on the b-ball team and only a few years later Reg has gotten the raw end of the deal.

Bibliomama said...

I'm not a pedophile, don't make me one? All these men need to be rounded up and have unspeakable things done to them, FFS. What century is it in this school?
Unfortunately, given the AD and the principal, this may not be a winnable battle, at least not unless you're willing to go scorched earth which won't be pleasant for you or Reg either, and that's not easy. UGH, so angry. I do like the idea of asking for advice from the former AD or principal or whoever - then if they agree there's really nothing to be done, you'll know you tried.

Ernie said...

Ali - Round them all up and do unspeakable things made me laugh out loud early this morning. It is quite the conundrum. I do keep going back to asking outside but related sources for suggestions. There was a fun teacher/staff and student basketball game fundraiser last night. A mom with a senior on Reg's team said her son, who was acting as one of the coaches during the fun night, wanted to get the assistant coach 'Pinhead' on his team because he wanted to tell him not to take any 3s and not to dribble. I sense that they've been frustrated too and I wonder if they'd be willing to speak up. I've known her for years and might ask her where she stands. She admitted that she was super glad her youngest was graduating because the principal freaks her out. She said if she had younger kids she'd probably have yanked them from the school. Her son was the one at the pasta dinner who asked Reg what the deal was with the coach always going off on him. Scorched earth- ha. Keep you posted.

Nance said...

Department chairs have zero power. All they are is representatives at meetings and schedule-makers. Leave that poor teacher alone; chances are that this person is already unhappy the coach is in his/her department.

It's a crappy deal, but you're stuck, I think. The season is almost over, and you can figure out what to do with next year's, if the focus is basketball for your son. If the coach has the confidence of the AD and the board, then he's going to be there, especially if they have a good record. I'm really sorry the situation is a tough one.

Ernie said...

Nance - Good to know about the department chair. I don't expect her to have any bearing on him being the coach, but I do think he should be told that he needs to leave the coaching crap on the court.

I'm grateful the season is almost over. I still hope that something can be done, but I'm going to assess what is what after the season after I've chatted with some of the other parents. This guy managed to get rid on the last coach by keeping a list of issues he had with him, so it's my hope that if the parents and kids have issues with him - they will be taken just as seriously.

Ernie said...

Nance - Oh, and he doesn't NOT have a winning record. It's a young team, but he also doesn't have enough coaching sense to know how to best utilize the talent that he does have.

Busy Bee Suz said...

This sucks on so many levels. Here, I thought you could just approach the AD and have it taken care of...damn.
I hate that you are in this predicament, and I understand that you want your kids to have a voice, unlike you at that age. I applaud you for trying to help. Sadly, iIt does sound like an unwinnable situation.
What does Reg want to do? What does he think is best? Perhaps taking a chance with the other school where the coach isn't that great?
Gosh, I wish I had some wisdom for you!!

Ernie said...

Suz - It does suck. I don't want to give Reg any additional reason to harbor ill feelings or fester - we've been towing the line here listening to him and validating his feelings but trying not to dwell by talking about the game highlights, etc. So while I know he doesn't want this guy coaching - I'm not gonna ask him if he wants to try to sit down with the AD until after the season. There is a mood stabilizer combined in his new epilepsy med, so maybe that has or will help him let some of the nonsense roll off of his shoulders a bit. He's playing well, and that helps because no matter what the coach says he has stats that show how he is doing. It is hard though, for example, not to turn the ball over when the coach doesn't have a real effective play to beat the press and passes get picked off. Hearing other parents hem and haw about how their kid (who is tall) has been told not to dribble or take 3s has helped (me anyway), to know that he isn't giving bad advice to Reg only.

I'm an optimist to the end, so I can't help but think the right thing will prevail if we point out the truth of the situation to the AD. It is his job to figure this out. Not sure though. If Reg says leave it alone, then we will leave it alone.

Ernie said...

Nicola - WELL, HELLO! Thank you for coming out of your lurking comfort zone and making my day with this very kind comment. Much appreciated. I agree with all of your points. Yes - it could not end so great if Reg was to switch schools. Yes - I do wonder if the principal or the other AD might be able to offer advice. I like your suggestion of I UNDERSTAND YOU'RE BUSY, TAKE YOUR TIME.

Reg does have a bit of an issue sort of unloading/speaking in bullet points when it comes to team related issues, or more regularly his injuries/sore parts, mostly his knee. He typically directs this at Coach, since he is a PT. It exhausts Coach. After last night's game, I could see Coach's eyes sort of glass over and he was getting frustrated. Coach is like THE KNEE HURTS, IT TAKES TIME. He feels like Reg is too focused on it. I got Coach's attention and gave him BIG ANGRY EYES . . . translating to tune in. He needs to share this. Even the therapist has told us that we need to let him overshare. He needs it. It isn't easy, but if we learned anything from Lad's issues it is that we need to validate.

Thanks again for the comment. Great to hear from you.

Sandy said...

Have a meeting with other parents and follow up on the Pedofile thing, that's disturbing.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

"I'm not a pedophile, don't make me one"?!?!?!?!?!?! How is he not GONE for that alone? It was IN THE PAPER?!?!?!

My vote is to contact your split district AD and the former principal and get their thoughts. And I think that's how you approach it, as "I just need a pressure check here" rather than as if you need them to resolve it.

And beyond that, I think... this is an unfortunate but valuable lesson for your kiddo that life can sometimes be cruel and unfair, and that sometimes you have no good options, but you need to find a way to feel good about yourself and your own effort. Don't get me wrong, Ernie, I am LIVID on your behalf. This coach sounds like a Class A Jerkface, and the whole system that brought him in seems messed up.

Whatever you decide, I hope things get better for your son.

Ernie said...

Sandy - I do hope that the other parents agree that the coaching situation needs to be addressed.

Ernie said...

Suzanne - The pediphile comment by the principal is mind blowing. I really hope he doesn't last long.

I like the idea of asking these other two people what they suggest/what they think about us attempting to approach the AD. It is a tough lesson to learn, that not everyone has the best interest of the team at heart, and I would rather that the lesson is: keep your cool and let the people in charge know the situation. ;) Fingers crossed.

At any rate, there are only a few games left. Playoffs.