Recently a California high school baseball coach was placed on administrative leave following an expletive-laced tirade, something that surely hits home for some athletes in the Verde Valley.
If you keep up with national sports news, then you probably heard about the baseball coach and his expletive laden rant. For those that have not heard about it, following a loss, La Mirada High School (La Mirada, Calif.) coach Kim Brooks laid into his team. He said things reserved for drill instructors and R-rated movie villains; all this to a high school team that lost a game.
I understand the want and need to win. I was a high school athlete and always liked winning. But as Camp Verde athletic director and girls basketball coach Mark Showers once said, it is not about winning or losing but cultivating experiences for the high school athletes and helping them become better people.
How is saying this helpful to a young man's growth and development?
"You can't [expletive] dive for a ball in the infield? [Expletive] you! Can't make a routine play? [Expletive] you! You gonna [expletive] piss and moan at the [expletive] umpire? 'Nyah nyah nyah,' [expletive] you! Get off the [expletive] mound! I want a man out there."
These are things Brooks said to his team and the simple answer is they are not helpful. Saying things like this to kids that are anywhere from 14- to 18-years-old hurts them.
It is one thing to yell at them for not trying hard but it is an entirely different thing to break them down mentally in an attempt to make them play better and then stomp on their bodies while they are laying there broken and beaten.
It is one thing when a coach yells at his team for not noticeably trying hard (my wrestling team had its fair share of tongue lashings and laps around the track for slacking off and losing when we should have won) because it can instill a sense of pride in what one does, but there is a line that coaches could cross in the heat of the moment.
Take someone like Mingus baseball coach Bob Young for example. When I have been in the dugout taking pictures, yes, he gets upset. He will get frustrated with his team on occasion, but never have I heard him break down his players mentally and step on them (figuratively speaking). The same is true for Camp Verde baseball coach Will Davis.
After losing in the first round of Division-II state, Young said how he was happy with his team and the way the played all season. This was their first year in D-II and no matter what happened that game, there was no taking back what they accomplished.
For Davis and the Cowboys, the shining light of the future guided them through the season and furthered their development.
They know winning is not every thing. It is fun to win and winning does make everything feel better, but it is not everything. At the end of a game or the end of the day, it is important for the team to know that their coach cares about them and not winning.
It is important for coaches to know that they are high school coaches, so while winning games and title are great, what is even greater is developing the boys and girls they work with into young men and women.