Opinion: Fans should let coaches coach, and focus on cheering
The 2015-2016 basketball season has come to a close with all three county high school boys’ and girls’ teams being eliminated from the playoffs. Even though this winter’s basketball season was not measured in a lot of ‘Ws’ for any of these six teams, one can reflect back over the season, regardless of records, Mount Abe versus Vergennes or Middlebury or Vergennes versus Middlebury, boys’ or girls’ games, there were a lot of competitive games between the three schools.
I follow all of the high school teams mainly through this paper’s sports columns but the Mount Abe girls’ program I am the closest to as I am the significant other to the coach. Connie has been at the helm of this program for 26 years. Her focus is and always has been the players going through her program. Taking the hand she is dealt each year and meshing them together to maximize their talents for the good of the team.
Along the way, Connie has been blessed with some talented teams. These teams have won three state championships and have been runners-up six times. There also have been some down years where the talent was not as good and the overall records reflected it. In 26 years, she has accumulated over 400 wins, but these wins are a reflection of the talent she has had and how they came together as a team. Many of her star players sacrificed their points, rebounds, assists, etc., for the overall good of the team success. Her teams, winners or losers, have always had good team chemistry and displayed good cohesiveness as traits of a good team supporting one another.
Connie can be 20-0 or 0-20 and there is at least one set of parents who have a gripe about something. I am sure I am echoing the same thoughts of each of the other five county coaches and maybe the other high school programs. Some parents take it to the extreme, where as others keep it to themselves and know the coaches are paid to coach, good, bad or otherwise.
In the winter months, there are not a lot of ways for people to work off built up energy, but if they attend a basketball game held in a confined space called a gym with 10 players running around along with two or three officials, every whistle and every coaching decision is challenged. Playoff games are turned up a notch and bring out the good and bad in everyone.
The Mount Abe girls lost their playoff game by a point to Lamoille. A game well played by both teams in a seesaw battle with the final basket scored with under 10 seconds to play. A lot of emotions and much effort were left on the floor by both teams, the officials and the coaches. An emotional draining 32-minute event. One team a winner and moves on to their next opponent, and the other prepares to turn in their uniforms after a long four-month season at six days per week.
The home team was on the short end of this event. Many fans came to the coaches and players and tried to console them after a tough, emotional loss. Some fans took this moment to criticize the coaching staff saying they were outcoached and did not do their homework in preparation for this game. One thing these coaches did not do was miss field goals or free throws, throw the ball away or not play good hard-nosed defense.
Being the “significant other” and on the outside looking into the team dynamics, I know what this coaching staff did to prepare for this game and each regular-season game. The coaching staff was prepared and so were the girls. The execution on the floor was not perfect. It is easy to sit in the stands and have all the answers, but it is hard to execute those answers from afar. As they say, if you can’t say anything good don’t say anything at all.
For 26 years, Connie has represented her community and school well and has had the respect of her players, the school administration and most parents. The way society is today, it is all about ME and not WE! If you must criticize, be mature enough to make an appointment with the coach and do it sometime other than immediately after an emotional game.
I hope I have spoken for all coaches. As many schools say, “Let the coaches coach, let the players play, let the officials officiate, and let the fans cheer!”