SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



Youth Baseball
By Brad Groghan


August 01, 2006

In spite of the best efforts of soccer moms and the left politically correct side, youth sports still offer our kids many valuable lessons that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Not just the ability to work and accomplish goals or to work together in a team environment. But sports also teach our kids how to deal with losing! And how to handle giving their best effort but still failing at something they love.

We live in a generation of parents that want to do away with keeping score at youth sport's games so the "loser" doesn t have his feelings hurt. They think all players should play the same amount. Don't reward the over-achievers. Instead, bring them down to the level of the under-achievers, so everybody is on an equal level. I strongly disagree with this. I'd much rather my child learn how to deal with and overcome failure at an early age, on a ball field competing against his friends, rather than not tasting rejection or an "unfair" situation until he s 22-years-old and applying for his first job in the real world.

Unfortunately, a large group of parents today cuddle and spoil their "dream" children. If said child gets in trouble, does not make a team, doesn't get the lead in the play, fails a test . . . it's NEVER the child's fault! The teacher must not like him, the coach was unfair, it was his friend's who started the trouble and dream-child just happened to be there.

My son didn't make the all star baseball team last year as an 11-year-old. He was right on the bubble and could have easily been selected. I didn't call the coach and complain, didn't write letters to the newspaper and didn't think there was a big conspiracy against him. Instead, we went out and practiced the entire off season. We hit at the field, we played catch inside gyms during the winter, I threw/hit him hundreds of ground balls. The result? He hit over .500 this year and was his team's best pitcher. His performance made it impossible to keep him off the all star team. He let his play on the field do his talking for him, not his parents writing letters and complaining. Now if he just had the same passion for his math homework . . . . But seriously, I put in the extra time because my son loves to play.

NOW, to specifically address the current slew of baseball letters. You have to ask yourself some important questions. Why would the coach purposely keep your kid off the team? Why would a coach pick board member's children? Why would the coach NOT pick the best players? Believe me, coaches want to win, especially during all star tournaments. And 99% of the coaches out there try and put together the team that they feel will give them the best opportunity to win. Sometimes your kid is in that group, sometimes they aren't. Sorry, but your kid can't always be the best, can't always win, can't always date the popular girl . . .. sometimes other kids are just better. Life is tough sometimes. Sports build character and self-asteem. Just because you play, doesn't mean you automatically should make the team.

I personally would like to thank Majors all star coaches Dan Lindgren, Les Silva and Todd Day for the hard work and time and effort they put forth in coaching our Ketchikan team. Three hour practices every night, and they all took over a week off of work to coach our kids. And to say that our team was put together of kids that didn't deserve to be there . . . . that's an insult to every kid who was chosen to play all stars. I watched as many little league games as anybody did this year.. And all 12 kids on that all star team deserved to be there. They all should be very, very proud of themselves. And NONE of them should feel like they made it because of who their parents are.

A letter writer is correct in saying that all three coaches' sons made the team. The three boys also happened to be the three best players on the team that went 17-1 and won the league championship. All three were dominating pitchers and hitters and all three boys will be first round draft picks into the juniors next season. Those three players make the team and are starters regardless of who coaches.

I believe the selection process is as follows. The top four vote getters from a player's vote make the team. Then the managers get together and vote on six more players. The all star manager then gets to round out the team by selecting two players of his choice. There is no conspiracy. No manager said " this kid should be on the team, but his parents aren't on the board, his dad isn't a coach and his mom is not friends with my wife - so let's not pick him. Let's pick a player who we think won't help us win instead." The players and managers pick the players they think will give the team the best chance to win.

Four players made it from the championship FSA team. Tongass finished in second place and had two players make it. First Bank finished in third place and had three players. McDonald's finished in fourth place and had two players, Andres Oil came in last and had one player. Sounds like a pretty fair representation of players. Should McDonalds, the fourth place team, have had more players selected than the three teams that finished ahead of them???? I personally watched all 12 all stars play in at least 10-15 games during the regular season, and all of them were legitimate all stars. End of story.

In all sports, even up to the pro level, the final two or three players on a team are going to have similar talent as the final two or three players who were cut. Unfortunately there has to be a cutoff somewhere. Some good players are gonna be left off. Let's not forget that making an ALL STAR team is an honor, not a right. If your kid or my kid didn't make it, it's because his peers didn't vote him in, and he didn't perform well enough to impress the coaches that he was one of the 12 best players. Hitting, fielding, attitude numerous things come into play. And just because a kid doesn't make all stars doesn't mean that he's not an excellent player. This isn't an attack on anybody. I didn't make all star teams or all the teams I tried out for. My son has not made all star teams or teams he has tried out for.

Let's not blame the other players, coaches, parents or board members for this. Let's help our kids learn from the situation by teaching them how to deal with adversity and failure. Maybe it will spurn them to work harder - not just in sports, but in other avenues of life as well, as they strive to avoid future disappointment. Let's set them up for future success, and not teach them how to blame others when they don't succeed.

Our little league and high school teams have not been losing the last couple of years to Sitka and Juneau because Ketchikan coaches are picking the wrong players. Juneau plays baseball year round, renting out gyms during the offseason. Sitka parents, businesses and coaches came together and BUILT an indoor baseball facility, so kids could practice year round. How has this paid off? By numerous Southeast and State championships. But MORE importantly, Juneau and Sitka baseball players are getting college scholarships and being drafted into the Major Leagues! From Chad Bentz playing in the pros, to EB Crow being drafted this year, to guys like Matt Way and Joe Ayers playing for PAC 10 teams. At worst, an indoor facility just gives Ketchikan athletes another activity for them to do, rather than playing Xbox, cruising, smoking weed and drinking beer, etc.

Ketchikan has always been a basketball town and is now being taken over by soccer. But we've got a great baseball tradition, some excellent baseball minds - old and new - let's get something set up for our baseball players! Call it the Al White Baseball Center, get some old coaches like Jerry Collins, Ken Lewis, Tommy Craig and White up to share their expertise, and then have the young teachers like Dave Price, Rob Benson, the Siversten twins, Greg Gass, the Smith brothers - the list goes on and on - come in and start training our athletes. Sitka is building a baseball dynasty. Let's get together as a community and give our players the opportunity to start competing for college scholarships!

I apologize if my letter offends any parent out there. It was not directed at any one specific letter writer or angry parent, but to the road that a lot of parents in today's society seem to be going down.

Let's let our kids settle it on the field or the court! This is their time to compete and have fun!!!! They can worry about politics, unfairness, backstabbing, nepotism, etc when they get older!

Brad Groghan
Ketchikan, AK - USA


About: " Lived in Ketchikan 30 years, raising a 12-year-old who loves to play sports."



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