LETTER: Actions Of SMS Boys Coach Concerns Parent
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My children attend Short Mountain Elementary and play for the Boys Basketball team. Just barely into the season they would come home from practice stating they were being told they were lazy and out of shape. As a parent, I have a problem with this. My children are not lazy nor are they out of shape. Here is my problem, how does this being said affect the children? My children got angry and really put out with the coaches. Not just because it was being said to them but, because they seemed to have singled out one child more than the others. What happens to the child that has that insecurity about his weight? A comment like that could be very damaging.

On January 19, 2012 one of the coaches crossed the line again. While playing a game against East Side, she put her hands on one of my children in a way that no adult, teacher, or coach should have touched my child. Why? Because he wasn’t playing the way she thought he should play. He wasn’t mad enough, he wasn’t playing aggressive enough. Simply because he was having too much fun. Talk to him and bench him for a few minutes …okay. Hit him in the chest three times … absolutely not.

Now this coach wants to have summer practices. She informed the team last week that anyone who had harassed her, she had deleted their numbers from her phone. She went on to tell them that they had better hope they had a good enough friend on the ball team that would inform them when practice would be because she would not be. As a parent, I feel this should have never been said to the children. If you have a problem with me, come to me. That is just not something that should be said to the kids.

This is just a short list of the problems with the coaches of the Short Mountain Boys Basketball team. I have spoken to the coaches. I spoke to the principal and Barbara Parker just last week. Again, just this afternoon spoke with the principal about this matter. I do not feel like my concerns were taken seriously. I was told it would be looked into and handled. I’m fairly certain they thought that would shut me up and sit me down. Boy, were they wrong. When is okay for a coach to speak to a child that way? When is it ok for a coach to lay hands on a child? It’s not! Not in my book. These coaches should be replaced by someone who will help these children, who will help them have fun and win. Not, someone that tells them they are lazy and out of shape every time they turn around.

Mandy Litchford

Liberty, TN

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Members Opinions:
February 22, 2012 at 4:50pm
Mandy, you have hit the nail on the head. I know those coaches and I know how they act. You are correct with your statements.
February 22, 2012 at 6:29pm
I too have a son that played on the Short Mountain boy's team this past season. I went through Ms. Litchford's letter line by line asking my son about each issue to get an accurate(hopefully) insider's perspective. I asked him to tell me the truth about the issues whether it be good, bad, or ugly. My son didn't like running 'suicide' drills because yes he was/is out of shape and certainly can be lazy. I have told him the same things myself. He didn't recall being called lazy by the coaching staff but remembered hearing that the team as a group was out of shape. He would come home redfaced and footsore as I would expect; and barring medical issues I think the physical activity was beneficial to him and the others hopefully. I asked if he noticed that any of the coaches 'picked on' any particular player and his response was 'no'. My son did improve and got into better physical shape as the season progressed.

I was not at and did not witness the 'hands on' incident at the East Side game. My son did see it and did not think that it amounted to much. And I understand that a parent might view the same event in a different light.

Personally I think the coaches and coaching staff did an admirable if thankless job under difficult circumstances. Coaches can never please all the parents, players, and fans all the time. Wins would be nice but that is not going to happen when your players are literally 1/2 the size of the other Cannon Co. teams. For me, winning, while nice, is not everything; participation, exercise, social interaction, confidence building, and Lack OF INJURY are far more important.

There are differing views and opinions regarding any subject or set of circumstance. This is my view as an unbiased observer with an inside connection to the issue.

Roger Cunningham

Liberty, TN
February 23, 2012 at 8:11am
Mandy, visit with your principal about this issue. If that doesn't pan out, contact your school board representative. Demand that a responsible adult be at all practices when coaches and players are together.
February 23, 2012 at 12:48pm
I have not had this experience with a coach but one on my children did with a teacher many years ago, calling them stupid, brain dead, etc. It wasn't acceptable then and isn't now either. These people are mentors...or should be anyway to our children. I know I got upset as I don't even say those things to my own children, I be darn if someone else is going to! In our case the teacher was repromanded and a letter put in their file. This shouldn't be allowed period! Keep pursuing if it persists!
February 23, 2012 at 4:00pm
Pjk, I went to the principal as well as the Director of Schools. I am now considering my other options. Thank you for your support.

Mr. Cunningham, you are correct, everyone is entitled to their views and opinions. I apologize, I should have been more specific when I stated she was calling them lazy and out of shape. It was said toward the team as a whole but, even though I am most definately out of shape, I would not want to be told that I am on numerous occasions. I think it would eventually wear even the best of us down. I think it is unfair to the boys, as a team, to play with all the heart they have against boys twice their size and then get told they are out of shape after the game. I personally noticed changes, for the worse, in at least two players this year. Comments were being made by other parents from different schools about things they noticed that did not seem right. So, if I'm seeing it and parents that have no connection to Short Mountain are noticing something, makes a person start wondering what is going on. Now, to be fair, I did notice huge improvement in some of the boys. I am extremely proud of the entire team. Short Mountain's boys played with all the heart and fire they had. I do however believe with better guidance and less verbal abuse they could win games and still have fun while doing so.
February 23, 2012 at 4:28pm
As for the child that was singled out, even though comments were made to the team as a whole, comments were made toward just him also. On more than one occasion one of my children would get in the car after a ball game and say, "Mom, they said........to ______." On another occasion, "Mom, they weren't very nice to_______ tonight." As far as the "hands on" incident, maybe it appeared to be no big deal to your child but, it is to me and my child.

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