Too many good coaches have been driven out of the game they love to teach lately, pulled away from their passion of working to develop young student-athletes’ bodies and minds.
They don’t leave because of unethical conduct or for guiding a program in the wrong direction. But because the parents take the fun out of the game.
Another good one finally decided that it wasn’t worth dealing with anymore, when Sheboygan South varsity boys basketball coach Tim Schultz resigned his post on Friday.
Frankly, few could blame him.
The parent-led campaign against Schultz was uniquely strong and organized, full of parents of both current and former players. It was ugly, as bad as many prominent members of the area sports community can recall.
As Schultz mentioned in a resignation letter addressed to South athletic director Chris Hein, “specific parents” led a crusade.
The majority of moms and dads put sports in the right perspective. They can let their kids enjoy this great time in their lives, while also respecting the authority of the coach and teaching their kids that what the coach says, goes.
But when things don’t go as planned in terms of success, some parents too often need to point the finger at someone. Coaches make easy targets.
Let’s make this clear: It is not a South-only issue. It’s not a basketball-only issue. It happens to coaches from every corner of the area, the state, the nation. From the youth levels on up. It’s a societal issue.
Some parents see the hard work their kid has put in over the years (or the time and money they themselves have put in), and when it doesn’t translate to success when they get to the high school varsity level, it must be someone else’s fault.
It can be hard to put things in perspective as a parent. After all, it is your kid. But what it means to be a part of a program needs to be considered. It’s bigger than one individual.
Too often, the parents who ruffle feathers are the ones who didn’t pay attention before their kid was a part of a program, and won’t when they graduate.
And it makes the entire experience less fun for the players.
When there’s a coup like the one at South, will the student-athletes remember the bonding and persevering with their classmates and friends during the year, as they should? Or will memories be flooded by the off-court drama? And will it leave an impression that when things don’t go right, Mom and Dad will bail them out by blaming another party? That defeats many of the great values learned by competing on a team.
As far as Schultz is concerned, he’s been successful, leading South to the WIAA Division 1 sectional finals in 2009 and 2010 — it hadn’t even been to the semifinals since 1997. He was the Press’ All-Area Coach of the Year both of those seasons.
He proved at South, and before that at New Holstein, that his teams don’t perform under expectations.
With all due respect to the kids on the court, South’s varsity teams the last two seasons were not predicted to compete in the Fox River Classic Conference. He likely angered some parents by playing for the future, using a rotation full of sophomores. But he’s the varsity coach, and he has a program to build.
This season, the Redwings lost their first 12 games, but had a strong finish, winning four of their last six in the regular season before nearly pulling off a major upset over rival Sheboygan North in the playoffs. It looked like South was poised to enter the 2013-14 season stronger than it did in 2012-13.
But a vocal contingent disagreed, and successfully did something about it.
The way Schultz was forced out by parental influence certainly won’t help Hein in his quest to find a qualified successor.
When a coach is forced out by parents, does it really benefit the student-athletes it’s meant to help? It rarely does.