Sunday, February 27, 2011

Good Coaching Or Over The Top?

Matt Kravchuk, a sophomore at Holy Family University in Philadelphia, was knocked on the ground and kicked by his coach during a basketball practice. Kravchuk was involved in a rebound drill when his coach confronted him physically. His coach cursed him out and then kicked him out of the practice while Kravchuk was bleeding.

The video can be found by clicking here

Now as a former athlete I'm sure that we have experienced some great coaches and some not so great coaches in our athletic careers. For me it seemed I knew more not so great coaches especially on the Rugby team. One coach in particular that my family and I will never forget. For privacy let's call him "Coach Wittenberg"

"Coach Wittenberg" was our JV Rugby coach. It was my sophomore year and I played running back and safety. Our coach was very intense but we knew that we needed everything to be intense because we wanted to be the best. It wasn't until the first day of practice that we all realized what were getting ourselves into. The first day of Rugby two-a-days, our coach was just yelling at everyone for everything, telling us that we needed to work harder and move faster. He wanted us to do our best and he was our coach so we did what was asked of us. It was our first inter-squad scrimmage against ourselves with full equipment and the coach felt we were doing a horrible job because we didn't know the offense that well yet. We had about two weeks to learn 20 something plays. At the end of the scrimmage our coach pushed a player and snapped a clip board over his head because he was frustrated with us. We all laughed because we thought it was funny but looking back on the situation now I know that this was a sign of bad coaching.

So we're mid way through our season, and we're playing against one of the teams in our division at home on a friday night! The lights were blinding, our stomachs were filled with agitated butterflies and the fans were roaring with cheers. There were three running backs on the team myself included. The coached started the other two before me and they couldn't get anything started. He then put me in the game. Pacing up and down the side line he screamed a play at me and shoved me on the field. I couldn't tell my quarterback the play so my quarterback picked his own play. I ended up getting gang tackled by 3 defensive players. The coach was screaming my names from the sideline. I ran over to him and as I'm nearing him, he grabs my face mask and makes me look into his eyes while he shakes my face mask. He then pulls my face mask downward. He then told me if I ever did something that stupid again I'd never play another down for him, all season. My parents, in the stands, watched as he shook my face mask and then pushed me away from him when he was done screaming at me. The next day my doorbell rang and at the door was my coach. He came in and sat down and apologized for his actions to me and my family. He told me I would get more playing time and that he thought I was a great kid and had a lot of talent that he needed on the team. 

I continued to play for him and endured his actions. Why you might ask? I felt it was all part of the game. My parents tried to get him fired and went to the press but the school wanted no part in the discipline of the coach. They felt it wasn't that serious. I didn't want to start anything either because I felt if I did say something he might punish me by making me run laps or do push ups until my arms couldn't hold me.  In addition to this, I didn't want to jeopardize our season. He was my coach and I did what I was told. He could have stepped on my head and I still would have played because football was life to us during the football season. You had to eat, sleep and breath football and you never questioned the coaches. If I didn't continue and quit all my friends would have looked down on me and questioned my loyalty to them and the sport and the tradition of the game. You don't realize the rights and wrongs committed by a person until you are able to step back and reflect on the experience, or you see it happen to someone else ad think about your own experiences. Knowing what I know now, I would have left the team because my coaches actions were not right. I do understand he wanted to bring out the best in us and provide us with intensity but as a coach I would never lay a hand on my athlete. There are different ways to "toughen" up a team or an athlete and becoming physical is not one of them. 

I feel the basketball coach had no right to lay a hand on his student especially when the athlete was not looking! Also the coach had no right to kick his athlete while he was on the ground bleeding. Saying he was toughening up his players is a poor excuse and should be suspended. The physical of an athlete should never happen. The physical abuse of a person period should never happen! A coach needs to be able to express his/her emotions what went wrong and had the athlete perform the task again.

Coaches are teachers that focus on particular skill. They must demonstrate the passion and concern much like a teacher would for his/her students. Just because you have the title as "coach" and doesn't give anyone the right to abuse an athlete because their not in a classroom setting. It's sad to see that people who abuse their power still have jobs when good, caring and passionate teachers and coaches are out there looking for a job. Leave a comment below about your opinion on the situation. 

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