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High School Coach Resigns Due to Parent Politics … And It’s Time to Say Something Out Loud

After just a few months into her position as the head volleyball coach at Amarillo High School in Texas’ panhandle, Kori Clements has announced her resignation.

Was it because of an unsuccessful season?

Definitely not. The Sandies went 33-14 before losing in the regional semifinals.

Was it unethical behavior? Some scandal or rules infraction?

Nope. Not that either. Although, you can bet there will always be rumors.

So what was it? What would cause Clements, an AHS grad who also won a national championship as a Nebraska Cornhusker, to resign from her alma mater after her first season at the helm?

In a word: politics. In her statement, Clements explains, “I cannot and will not compromise the integrity of my decisions based on a parent’s political pressure or position. I believe strongly in the value of athletics, that being a part of a team is a privilege, and playing time is earned.”

And all the coaches said, “AMEN.”

Now we don’t know the whole story, or at least her whole story.

But we do know this story of politics, parents, and pressure is not an isolated event. We’ve all watched our coaches deal with it. The emails, the complaints, the being cornered after a game, the late night emails and calls, the demands and threats from parents who think they know better than the coach whose job is literally on the line with every win and every loss.

So parents, I write this to implore you: we’re losing good ones. Good coaches and good teachers are leaving the profession because it’s so hard to do it with integrity.

I get it, your kid deserves to play. She has worked so hard, and if only that coach could see what you see.

Listen, I know there are bad coaches in the world. I’ve played for some and I’ve worked with some. But the vast majority of coaches see our athletes much more clearly than we parents do. We love our kids so stinking much (not a bad thing) and we want the best for them (not a bad thing), but can’t we all admit that that big love might make us a little shortsighted? And can’t we also admit that fighting their battles is not what is best for them?

You know what IS the best for them?

Overcoming adversity.
Working harder than everyone else.
Getting better just for the sake of being better than they were yesterday.
Learning to have hard conversations.
Staying late at practice.
Taking extra shots.
Running extra sprints.
Busting their tail in offseason.
Failing.

It’s hard, I know. And it’s even harder to put into practice.

So let’s just commit to this one thing: Let your kid have the first conversation.

Help prepare him/her for the conversation. A few good questions? How can I get better? What can I do at home? What are a few specific things I need to work on?

And then let’s ask ourselves one thing: What’s my end goal for my kids?

Of course we want our kids to play, maybe even be the star of the team, but is that really what’s best for them? Sometimes the best lessons are in the losses not the wins, the sitting the bench not the raising the trophy. Maybe it’s better for our kids to learn hard lessons like selflessness, humility, and sportsmanship. We’re not trying to raise entitled, spoiled, frail adults, are we? We’re trying to raise God-fearing, compassionate, resilient human beings who won’t balk at the first sign of adversity.

So let’s start with the end in mind. We’re doing our kids no favors.

And we’re losing a lot of good educators along the way.

  1. Frank Cruthers

    January 18, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    Teach your kid to earn playing time. One lacrosse coach my daughter had made a speech before tryouts that I will always remember and loved. This guy was an All-American playing on one of the best teams in lacrosse history talking to parents of 6th grade girls, The first comment and probably not original, ” I can’t put in your child what God left out”, I looked at the parents and most of them had this blank look on their face. The second comment bas just brilliant and most of these parents had the means to pay for club lacrosse and wanted little princess to play college lacrosse, the comment was, “if you or your spouse didn’t play college or even varsity sports don’t think your kid is going to be different”. I started laughing to myself in the back of the crowd of parents because he was so right and just turned and walked away. It was perfect. it left a good portion of the parents upset. Let the kid learn to compete and earn playing time. Leave the coach alone. I played in an ear if you went home to complain about the coach my father asked what I did wrong.

  2. Sara Renee White

    January 19, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    that’s all good and fine, but what about the coach who picks who they want to work with and the rest not get the opportunities the upper class has, it’s not like it used to be, coaches don’t stay after there isn’t any safe place for a kid to work on their shot and the places there is the family can’t afford, sorry I believe the problem is traveling teams should stay traveling teams and school sports should be for those who don’t get to travel, so they actually get a chance to get as good as the traveling players. Sports are getting to be a for the higher middle class, if you haven’t been playing on a traveling team since kindergarten you have no chance in hell of making the jr high team let alone the high school team, and where I am from coach don’t necessarily play the best players is the ones who have money. But, of course you have never been on the other side looking in. I have been on both sides, and pissed off a lot of parents, and when I was coaching, I placed my value as a coach in rather or not I inspire the love of the game, I preferred the players who were misfits, that never got noticed because they wasn’t seasoned, cause if I could take a team of players that everyone else thought were no good and help them develop into a successful team, I felt like a dam good coach, any coach can have a winning season with an already winning team, it takes great coaches to help develop a team successfully. Honestly you have a better all-round team if they develop together then a team of stars (hot heads). Coached for 17 years.

  3. Mrs_Coach_White

    January 19, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    Nailed it! ????????

    #FellowCoachWife

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    January 31, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    […] may even offer your athlete a chance to develop greater humility and flexibility, which will benefit them far beyond just sports. Being coachable and capable of learning varied game […]

  5. Emily

    February 2, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    This was so well said. I shared this with fellow coaches and teachers alike.

    1. Jordan Harrell

      February 4, 2019 at 8:13 pm

      Thank you, Emily! And thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

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