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Had five kids show up for practice today. Head coach wasn't there either. Of those that missed, two reported a stomach bug, one had a school event, one is still injured from last week's game, and one might not be playing anymore. Our practice location moved this week because the YMCA is a bunch of dicks, so we now practice on a baseball field. This actually works out pretty well because the fence keeps the parents out of my practice and the field has lights which will come in handy in the next couple weeks. The downside is that we have to share a field with the Tigers on Thursdays. Over the past few weeks, I've started to develop a relationship with the Tigers' head coach, which is helpful because he's a decent coach who also coached last year. He's also a pretty solid guy and has helped me out with getting practice locations and dealing with parents/other coaches. Futhermore, he's an NOC Board member.
At the beginning of "practice", I went to talk to the mother of one of my missing players. Joe was at practice, but Teddy wasn't. Both are adopted, they aren't biological brothers. After speaking with their mom for about 20 minutes, I found out that both Teddy and Joe had been badly abused before being adopted, Teddy was old enough to remember, Joe wasn't. They have very different personalities. Joe took to me almost immediately, but Teddy is very shy and careful, and it takes him a while to warm up to anyone. Teddy had a great practice on Tuesday and I told him he would be starting at QB (he usually plays HB and his brother plays QB, but Joe has been playing around too much at practice for the past few weeks). At the end of practice, Tony, Dave's dad, was getting on the kids about paying attention in practice because we will play more big teams and if they don't practice hard, they might get hurt. This scarred Teddy a bit. He has also been getting bullied at school for the last week or so, but no one found out about it until today. I'm sure this also had a lot to do with his decision. I don't think it's final though, I think it has just been a rough week for him. He's a really good kid, so I hate to see that. I've developed a really good relationship with him and his brother, so regardless if he plays or not, I still hope he comes to games and practices.
Since we only had five players, I did some tackling drills (w/dummies) and blocking drills (one on one). At the last practice, I got the bright idea to send kids that were acting up in practice to go see "Coach" Charlie to do up-downs. Charlie was actually pretty good at being the discipline coach, making them do a fair number of up downs, and it kept him away from my practice. He's also the only coach with a whistle! During blocking drills, Turner, Charlie's son and the biggest kid on the team," was getting dominated by everyone, like he always does. He just doesn't even try. Charlie got super pissed and started yelling and cussing at Turner like he is wont to do. Turner is pretty non responsive, so Charlie grabs Turner by the facemask and starts dragging him towards the 1B dugout (we're in right field at the time, the Tigers are in left). Turner goes limp and starts screaming, so Charlie picks him up off the ground (still by his facemask) as he's still dragging him. This happens a few times before they finally reach the dugout. Not surprised by the events that just took place, I turned my attention back to my four remaining players and our blocking drill, rearranging the players so that they aren't still staring at Turner and Charlie. We finish our drill, do conditioning, and leave.
As I'm leaving the gate, Tigers' coach comes to talk to me about what happened. He asks how often, I tell him this is the first time I've seen the physical stuff, but everything that went with it is an every practice thing. He says he's going to have to report what happened since it was borderline child abuse and Charlie will probably get kicked out of the INFC. I say I'm cool with that (although I am a little disappointed that I finally found a use for him; on the other hand, I don't have to worry about catching a case since he won't be screaming "GET THAT BALL" on the sidelines anymore).
Got a call from another board member (and past president), the same guy that asked me to help coach this team, about the incident. We talked about it for a bit, and he says Charlie will probably get suspended. Then he asks if I would be interested in coaching again next season (he coaches a 1st grade team, so I'm assuming he wants me to help them when they move up). I tell him that I'll graduate this spring and if things go right, I'll be corching high school footbaw this time next year. He says that's great and that he's heard a lot of really good things about me at the NOC. Said he knows pretty much all the high school coaches in the area and I can feel free to use him/NOC as a reference. A nice ending to an eventful day.
Charlie was suspended for the game on Saturday, but I think that was all. Him, Kim, and Turner have a school event, so I'll have to wait until Thursday to see if he's actually allowed to coach practice again. I don't care either way. Teddy showed up and played in the game. I told his mom to tell him that we miss him and we'll be thinking about him last Thursday, and his mom said that meant quite a bit to him. Him and his bully are also best friends now, so I'm happy about that.
We lost 7-0. The other team scored with 17 seconds left after we had back-to-back fumbles. The first was toward the end of the 3rd quarter while we were driving. The second was on the first play after we got the ball back. After the other team scored, the refs spotted the ball. I was in the huddle calling a play when the horn sounded and the officials called the game. I begin telling them that the clock shouldn't have started, in the last two minutes of the 4th quarter the game changes to high school clock rules. The said they were never told that. I got a little pissed and told them it doesn't matter if they were told, it's in the rule book. They said they were never given a rule book. By this point they had already given me the time back, but I was pretty pissed. The rule book is online and I made sure they knew it. Then I continued on about how they are getting paid to do this and that they should know the rules. I finally gave them a "Do your jerb!" or something similar before one shot back, "you do yer jerb!" and another hit me with the "that's enough, Coach!" I gave them a kind of a whatever-shoo hand gesture as I walked back to the huddle and finished out the game.
Didn't care about the winning the game at that point, but the refs had been bad for both sides all game and the excuses pissed me off. Don't care if you're reffing digital footbaw, if you're getting paid to do it, know the rules.
One of the other team's coaches left this post on the INFC forums...
#### -7 / #### - 0. Good game.......long drive. It's sad when the coaches of both teams are having to upcoach the refs. Good luck on the rest of your season ####!
Honest question... Why did you let that happen in front of you? Putting a stop to terrible/abusive parent behavior is one of the most important roles you have as a corch. It’s also really important to show the kids how to BTT resolve such conflicts without additional violence.
I know this is a learning experience year and I’m not trying to be hard on you, but that’s something you should make a goal to improve before heading to high school because it only gets worse. I know it feels awkward as hell to interrupt something between a parent and a kid and it is also extra hard because he’s a corch, but you’re responsible for these kids
That's a fair question. From what I understand, interfering in a situation like that can make it worse for the kid when they are at home/in private. I definitely thought about doing something then and I've thought about what I would do the next time the situation arises, but I'm honestly not sure what the appropriate action would be.
That's definitely not giving 50/50 advice here, keeping kids from actively being abused in front of you is pretty important, IMO. I'm not saying you needed to have a SHOWDOWN with him (in fact, I said you need to avoid violence at all costs, as that would just make it worse) but you should attempt to deescalate the situation and get that moron back under control. This lack of control is almost certainly why you have all these kids leaving/quitting as well. Parents see this shit and realize it's a circus and the kids aren't getting anything positive out of it. I'd pull my kid off this team for sure.
As far as suggestions for how to de-escalte. First, I think an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in any of these types of trog conflicts. I think stepping in long before he got mad enough to haul his kid around by the facemask would have been the best course of action, but I wasn't there so I don't know how exactly it all started. From the story, it sound like he got more and more steamed and built up to this. Call a water break and pull him aside (where he won't be embarrassed) and tell him he needs to lock it up and be an adult.
Key elements for handling conflict with trogs
1. Don't escalate. It takes two trogs to tango and you don't want to tango.
2. Be completely calm/quiet in your approach. This is the most important thing, as long as you are calm eventually they will be too.
3. Interrupt them with an assignment or task to complete. When someone is behaving irrationally/emotionally, you can often break them out of it by asking them to complete some simple task (hey corch, can you call a water break? He corch, lets do some ___ drill). This is due to the fact that it is difficult to be emotional and rational at the same time.
4. Allow the trog to save face so that they aren't embarrassed. Embarrassing a trog is the best way to escalate/trap the trog (what I love doing on Utopia!) but it is not going to help you de-escalate a conflict, so avoid publicly embarrassing them... give them an easy way out.
5. Once you've calmed the situation down in the moment, follow up after practice and let them know it isn't acceptable behavior and you won't corch with someone who behaves that way.
6. If this is a continual problem, then I'd honestly just quit before I'd continue coaching with someone who behaves like that.
I was really fortunate to corch with two awesome head corches and at our first meeting we came up with ways to handle our disagreements or problems with each other (because shit always comes up during the season) without making it a big public thing in front of the kids. The old "Water Break" is a great way to have a mid practice discussion corch-to-corch if you see something that needs to be stopped.
I only had to intervene with other corches on two occasions. One was with another assistant corch on my team who was running some stupid murder ball game that was going to get all the kids concussions. I called a water break and helped him modify the drill to something that was similarly fun but not insane. The second was when I saw the 8th grade corch pulling kids around by the facemask in frustration when I was corching the 7th graders. I called a water break for our kids and just walked over nonchalantly to talk to him and said I'd noticed it, so all the parents watching from their cars certainly would as well. He was definitely embarrassed to be called out and he started to trog at me, but I just stayed calm and it completely defused him. I then followed up with my head corch (since I wasn't a teacher and they both were) and we all had a heated discussion after practice, which was a mistake on my part. Following up was right, but in retrospect I should have just continued to remain calm and not cycle with him. At least this argument was in private. I stopped corching because the guy I corched with got promoted to vice principal and stopped corching, so the trog king and his previous assistant became the new head corches (both teachers) and I didn't want to corch with either of them.