Thanksgiving

All of us enjoyed Thanksgiving this year. Our celebration spanned several days. We got the chance to visit with many of our relatives. We ate very well – too well it seems. We had enough time to rest and relax before going back to work on Monday.

Mike, Phyllis, Matt and Becky at the table

Thanksgiving itself was very nice. We drove down to Beavercreek and celebrated with Dad. Mike, Alex, Ian, Louise and Phyllis (forgive my spelling everyone) were able to make it to Dad and Carole’s. We were disappointed that Nole, Mary and Carole’s Mom were unable to attend. Nole had a cold; Mary was also not feeling well and most significantly, Carole’s Mom is in the hospital. Our prayers are with her and hope that the doctors can treat her foot without her losing it.

Michelle and Alex enjoyed each other’s company. What they talked about and what they did were a mystery to me, but Michelle seemed to enjoy herself greatly. It’s special the way the cousins (the girls especially) can get together and enjoy each other’s company and not appear to miss a beat. Matt and Ian are different enough in age that they don’t spend as much time together. Matt enjoyed himself, though. I hope Ian did as well.

Carole

I was amazed at Ian’s knowledge of astronomy. He has steeped himself in the subject. We spent time talking about a variety of astronomy topics, and I’m sure most of it went over my head. It’s good to see him get interested in a subject with that kind of passion. He loves it. The next day (Friday) Mother arrived at about 3:30 or 4:00. Becky had prepared a nice dinner of pork in the crock pot. It was great. Mother and Michelle spent the night at Mother’s hotel and went to the Fairfield Mall the following day. Mother wanted to get Christmas and birthday gifts for Michelle. I think the birthday part was taken care of. I’m not certain about the Christmas gifts.

Mother-at-Dinner
Michelle

I spent time with Mother trying to help her address some technical issues she was having with the class she is teaching at EKU. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to help – although I did eliminate some potential solutions, so I guess I was of some help. I’m guessing that the technical support staff at EKU is going to need to get up to speed on some subjects.

Sunday morning Mother came over, and we spent some time putting together video footage for Great Grandma’s 90th birthday party. I sat on the couch with Matt and Michelle and beat comments out of them. It’s hard to get teenagers (and yes we have two now) to talk about themselves – so the little we got will have to do.

All told it was an enjoyable holiday. The food was good and the company better.

The End of An Era

Well, today was a very tough one. In fact, I can’t remember a rougher day. It has been brewing for some time now and, as Becky has said, it was like a necessary visit to the Doctor’s office: you dread it, but you feel better for having gone.

I quit coaching today. Countless dollars, hours, and effort have been put behind me.

When I was very young, I’m not sure what age I was – probably elementary school, I played on a SAY soccer team. I was shy, not the most aggressive or the most skilled, but I had a role on the team. To this day I remember my coaches names – Durbin and Renner. I probably can’t remember my elementary teachers’ names as well. They both were good coaches and always made certain all of us knew we contributed to the team’s success. As a young adult, I had the opportunity to coach and thought I should pass on that positive experience I had gained from my coaches to another generation.

When Matt was five, back in 1993, I coached his indoor team upstairs at the Rec. It was little more than a pack of kids running loose after the ball, but it was terribly entertaining. I coached him outdoors in the Rec departments leagues. When he made Von Clendenon’s team I helped as an assistant. I was glad to help and I although my participation dropped off after a while I enjoyed it and thought I made a difference.

Michelle was there every step of the way. She tried to keep up with Matt indoor at the Rec, and as a result, she probably got a head start on some of her peers. Through the years I coached both her and Matt in Rec. It was tough but rewarding coaching, two teams. I tried to learn the pitfalls of coaching watching Von coach Matt’s team. I learned some good lessons and some bad, but I wanted to apply them all to Michelle’s teams.

Eventually, Michelle made a select team, and I was placed in the coach’s role. If it’s not immodest, I was the best-qualified parent although they might not all agree with me. I’ve grown very close to the girls in the past five years. You get very close to the girls. It gets hard to see them struggle but when they succeed, I’ve always found that very rewarding. I would not be surprised if I feel closer to the girls then they do to me. I’m just an adult who spent time with them on during games and practices. That doesn’t really bother me. If there’s even one kid in the years I have been coaching who will be inspired to do the same for the next generation, then I’ve met my goal.

The circumstances around my ‘retirement’ are sad ones. It’s funny when you first get into coaching everyone tells you the worst, most challenging part, is the parents. Your first reaction is a skeptical “Sure”. Through the years that lesson gets clearer and clearer. You finally get to the point where managing the relationship with the parents is the job. The day that happens you stop becoming a coach – whether you realize it or not. It’s a slippery slope and once you take the first step it’s hard to regain your footing.

After the end of this past season, my parents held a parents meeting without me. They decided I was no longer the right person to coach their daughters. I was not providing enough technical instruction, I was not motivating them, and I was not providing enough discipline. I was called by a parent and asked to meet ‘over drinks to discuss soccer’. When I got there, there were three fathers. They informed me of the parent’s decision. They informed me that all of the parents except the three new families to the team had met and reached the above conclusions.

Now the club we are in assigns coaches. They are not selected by the parents. At the meeting, I agreed to bring on another parent the parents originally wanted to coach the team. I would remain as the head coach, and the new parent would run practices. We agreed that I would conduct a parents meeting in two weeks and notify the parents of the change. Becky and I were of course crushed by the news. To find out that you are so disconnected from a group of people you have spent five years working with was very disturbing. I was very shaken by the meeting and really questioned how I could be so out of touch with a group of people. The more Becky and I talked the more convinced we became that we were simply not going to be able to continue in the role. It was evident based on the actions of the parents that there was little concern or compassion for us.

Staying in the role of ‘manager’ as another parent coached was the bottom of the slippery slope. The joy of coaching is making a difference in the lives of children – it is not paperwork, it is not fielding complaints and criticisms of the parents. I had agreed to stop being a coach, and I realized I was left with the part of the job I had truly failed at – dealing with the parents.

I’ve had two weeks to author my resignation and tonight I delivered it to the parents. Becky and I live in this community and expect to continue to do so. I spoke from my heart to the parents, without recrimination. I expressed my sadness and tried my best to transition to the new parent/coach. Although I hold some very strong emotions towards some of the parents, there’s little value in expressing those views. After five years of service, I thought the least I deserved was a departure from my role with a little bit of dignity. It’s hard to feel good about these kinds of events, but given the cards dealt I played them as best I could.

It’s taken me more than a month to complete this entry. It is far and away my most personal posting. I’m sure I’ll regret making it public to even as small an audience as this blog gets. I’ve learned a great deal since my departure from the coaching role. I’ve learned that some parents disagreed with the decision. I’ve learned that parents declined to participate. I’ve learned that a handful of families drove the effort. I’ve learned that e-mail status reports were sent to the other parents shortly after my meeting with the representatives of the parents. Despite my interest and stated intent in delivering the news of the coaching change to the parents – that news was delivered by others. I’m confident that message discouraged others from approaching me on the topic.

I take no consolation in this news. I only feel manipulated and bullied. I’ve made the right decision. Life is too short to spend in the company of people who behave in this manner. There are parents who I respect for the position they took. In some respects they have paid a higher price then I have. Relationships have been broken or stressed.

It’s sad because it’s just a game. It will never be the same.

Achilles Tendon

Well I’m afraid I might have a serious injury on my hands. I played soccer down in Cincinnatti over the weekend and I’m feeling the effects at this point. On two different occasions I was brought down pretty hard. I thought at the time that the more serious problem was my lower thigh. It hurt pretty bad on Sunday and Monday but at this point it’s not much of an issue. No, the second injury is what I’m feeling now. I was kicked in the ankle during the game and I’m afraid it’s not going to get better without a little medical attention. It hurts when I move the foot but it hurts on the outside of the heel – way down. I also have some swelling there which is painful to the touch.
I don’t want to go to the doctors office – wah!!!

Update:
Well it took a while but on November 24th I went in to see Dr. Bartnick. He looked it over and decided to have it x-ray’d. He didn’t think it was broken and gave me some muscle relaxants he thought would help with the affected tendons and ligaments. Because of the holiday the doctors’ office was not open until the following Monday. The x-rays didn’t show any breaks or fractures. They have diagnosed bursitis which is basically a bruised padding (bursa). Rest and anti-inflamatories are the recommded treatments.

Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

Becky and I went to see a play at the local civic theater – The Barn in the Park. The play was entitled “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, by Ed Graczyk. I enjoyed the play. The theater is small, the talent is local and the set is very cramped but it was a good selection for the setting. I was really surprised to find out that this play was produced as a movie back in 1982 by Robert Altman.

The actors did a very nice job with the play. The play was staged in such a way that all of the activity took place in the diner. I’m not certain that would have worked on the movie – but it worked well in the cramped Troy Civic Theater, aka the barn in the park. The best part was easily that of Sissy – played by Cher in the movie. Knowing that Cher played the part in the movie it’s easy to see who the stage actress modeled her delivery after – you can just picture Cher spitting out the one-liners. It would be perfect.

Weekend with Dedo

Matt spent the weekend with Dedo. We arranged for Dedo to pick up Matt at Michelle’s soccer game on Saturday afternoon (see here for details). Carole was out of town in Tennesee. Dad was good enough to call and ask if Matt would like to spend the weekend. Dad and Carole had tickets to see “States of Independence” and Dad thought Matt would enjoy the musical.

So the point of this essay is that both Matt and Dedo – and apparently a good portion of the audience – thought the musical was pathetic. Dedo is normally very balanced when it comes to the arts. He has an open attitude towards different points of view. If Matt had walked away from the experience with a poor review we would need to check with others. That both Matt and Dedo panned the musical is telling. That more then half the audience left at intermission is damning.

The irony is that we spent a portion of lunch on Saturday talking about how surprisingly good the Wright State University (WSU) theater department was. Normally you can count on a well produced, directed and performed piece. Even though the reviews here and here are recommending we all go watch, the reviewers closest to the family have given it two thumbs down. Sorry guys, I’m sure that’s going to eat in to your ticket sales.
Evidently the story is based on actual events of a woman who joined the army and fought as a man. I also believe the woman was African-American. Both of our reviewers thought the play had a good basic premise. That is enough to create a good musical or play. Both Dad and Matt thought the actors did well. It was well performed – but not well conceived. The directors take the good idea and introduce 21st century sensibilities and mental frameworks and take the original concept in an entirely different direction. The woman is now homosexual and is identified as “African American” 200 years before the term was popularized. Characters refers to 21st century technologies (the tv) destroying the illusion of authenticity.