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TEMPEST in a San Ramon Dugout

By Jackie Burrell
Wednesday, May 7th, 2008 at 6:00 am in Sports.

baseball There’s a tempest brewing in California High’s baseball dugout, after a San Ramon Valley family accused coaches of giving members of their year-round, non-school team prized JV and varsity positions that left other players out in the cold. In essence, coaches were playing favorites, the family charged, with players who’d paid to play.

Frankly, it’s a common complaint, particularly in prosperous suburban areas where kids play high-octane, year-round ball, and their parents routinely hire private pitching/batting/whatever mentors to help their kids excel. In this case, school officials investigated and found no evidence of preferential treatment, but one of the coaches was removed halfway through the season, so commence with the dot-connecting.

Having had four kids play nearly every kind of aquatic and field sport for the last decade and a half, we’ve heard similar charges lobbed every time someone’s kid gets cut from a varsity team or doesn’t get as much playing time as mom or dad expects — and we have to say, this is a complicated issue.

On the one hand, it’s unreasonable to expect a coach who makes peanuts directing public high school athletic teams – $500 to $2,000 for a four-month coaching position whose hours make it incredibly difficult to hold down a day job too – to turn down the supplementary income that comes with high-powered, ultra-competitive “rec” teams. And what coach turns down the chance to train “his players” 12 months a year and reap the glory of a state championship? Truth is, rec teams often become feeder programs for high school sports. When it comes to team sports, most high school athletes prefer to train with the teammates and coach they’ll be playing with during the Big Season. And for a coach facing the task of building a championship varsity team, his year-round players become a known quantity. The kid who played frosh/soph last year? Not so much.

So, it’s certainly understandable that farm team-heavy varsity squads have emerged. Is the system ripe for abuse? Well, of course.

Naturally, you want to advocate for your kid.  Thing is,  every parent thinks his kid will get that full ride athletic scholarship, go to the Olympics, play major league ball. And years of teeball and everyone-gets-a-trophy sports just feed that fantasy … until you really, truly believe your kid is God’s gift to high school sports. But JV and Varsity sports is where the rubber hits the road. Not everyone makes it. And those two San Ramon brothers didn’t. Were they varsity level? Who knows?

At some point, you have to trust the coach – and the school’s athletic director, principal and superintendent who ultimately oversee it all. And at some point you have to stop and ask yourself this, is the coach playing favorites or is the “favorite” Chris Blackwood?

So here’s the cautionary tale: Miramonte High basketball coach Tom Blackwood led his team to 27 winning seasons, six league titles, and a North Coast championship, only to be forced out by team parents who accused him of favoritism toward his son at the expense of their, well, vastly more talented children, right? Only thing was, Blackwood wasn’t playing favorites. His kid was the real deal. After his father’s ouster, Chris Blackwood transferred and led rival Campolindo High to victory after victory, including a thorough thrashing of his old team that had sports columnists crowing about karma and parental sports hubris.

Click “comments” and weigh in with your thoughts…

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50 Responses to “TEMPEST in a San Ramon Dugout”

  1. Softballguy Says:

    Having a daughter who played multiple sports all thru High School, I’ve seen a great amount of political manuvering by parents to get their kids playing time, whether it is to go out to a bar with the coach after a game, being a team parent, throwing money at fundraisers, or whatever. Not all coaches have club teams, or train players. The top atheletes will get played regardless. But the sticking point for me has always been the marginal players the coach plays for no rational reason, even when other players have better stats or performance. If a kid doesn’t measure up, then I have no problem sitting them down. To play them because a somebody’s Dad bought you a beer is a problem.

  2. Susan Says:

    Where I have a problem is when coaches make promises like, come to every practice and you’ll see playing time, and then refuse to honor that promise. My daughter’s best friend was the only player to show up for high school soccer practice every day for two weeks. The coach threatened the players who missed repeatedly by saying perfect attendance would lead to more playing time. Then he left the perfect attendee on the bench for the entire time in the next game. That was just wrong.

  3. Lafayette Mom Says:

    I think you’re making a far too general statement by saying every parent wants their kid to get a college scholarship, play pro ball, etc. We only ask that the coaches look at each individual fairly, not just because their parents could afford to pay for lessons and travels teams. I have 3 kids who have played high school sports, two will be in college in the fall – not on athletic scholarships. We’ve only experienced maybe two coaches who we thought were really qualified. Years ago when we complained about a coach, the basic response from the principal and the AD was “we’ve got other more important issues to deal with.”

  4. Baseball Says:

    These parents need to let it go and the AD needs to back the coaches. If not it will open a huge door for all coaches when they make cuts. You don’t want our coaches looking back every time they cut little Jonny.

  5. Jeremy Says:

    I remember trying out for the Varsity team my Junior year in 1994. I had played Freshman baseball, then Varsity Volleyball my sophmore year. Playing 3 sports in high school and several city league sports, time and money did not allow me to play in the premier “pay to play with the best” baseball league outside of high school. My official Varsity tryout consisted of 1 at bat, 1 inning in the outfield and 1 caught fly ball. So, instead of joining the Junior Varsity team, I played Varsity volleyball again and led the team to back to back NCS playoffs my Junior and Senior years as a 1st team all league athlete. (not to mention 1st team all-league in football and soccer during the same years.)

    Seems like things have not changed much at Cal High in 15 years. I am not surprised.

  6. Cal High Parent Says:

    So far the comments have obviously come from people that do not know enough of the facts. For the district to make personnel changes mid season, implement new tryout procedures district wide for next year, and to remove wording and change language on forms should start waving red flags as to the severity of the situation. For this to get to the district level and be investigated and worthy of an article should also key people in that there must be way more to the story. Hopefully there will be follow up articles with more of the facts.

  7. another concerned parent and taxpayer Says:

    What a disturbing article in Saturday’s paper! While the spokesman for the school district stated many times that there was no wrong doing on their part, he followed up every accusation with a “changes are being made…..” Read between the lines, sounds like a cover up to me. School officials are acting more like the government-lies, lies, lies! I can’t see how we can believe them or vote in favor of another parcel tax. Measure D will not have my vote.

  8. Cal JV Parent Says:

    What is being missed in all of this baseball business at Cal High is that one of the best baseball coaches was let go, which had a direct impact on 14 players and their families. It seems that the effect on a team was not even considered and that the JV coach was simply a scapegoat to help quiet a parental tantrum. This young coach is very gifted. He made a mistake of not completing paperwork for field use. A simple warning was warranted. The JV team lost an incredible teacher.

  9. California High Baseball Controversy - Prep Corner - Oakland Tribune | Prep Corner - East Bay high school sports Says:

    [...] going on about the controversy surrounding the Cal High baseball program at our sister blog, ”aPARENTLYspeaking” Perhaps it should be required reading for parents whose kids play competitive [...]

  10. Concerned Baseball Player/Paren Says:

    A couple things that need to changed……I don’t think anyone can coach or train a player in the off season and be nonbiased when selecting a High School team. This is only human nature, especially if his parents are padding your wallet! Telling the player how much he’s improving with your instruction…then cut him! (NO WAY) Perhaps even transfer to my school so you’ll have a position. Please make a choice coaches…. competitive teams/trainer/high school coach. It doesn’t make you a good High School coach when others hear how you boast about only picking “your” players…your not there for just baseball that’s EVIL ! Karma will come your way. Telling the community that coaches don’t know who pays the participation contribution is straight up a lie….It’s the first box on the athletic clearance form the players present to the coach before they’re allowed to tryout….it’s either checked or not. It’s time that the players/parents take a stand to stop what’s not right and evil taking place in the dugouts! Let the good players play not the rich….this is a public school??

  11. Cal Parent Says:

    If a Simple Warning Was Warranted, I’m Sure the district Would have gone that Route. Strange……. I’ve Heard the same JV Coach was also let go last year after only 2 Weeks of Coaching 2 for 2 batting 1000…Is There a psychiatrist in the house????

  12. Cal High Parent Too Says:

    First of all, this coach being let go for letting his summer team practice on the varsity field is simply wrong. Secondly, there is no evidence (as clearly stated multiple times in the article) of any inpropriety. And lastly, there IS more here than what’s been reported. The administration and particularly the AD are incompetent, inconsistent and lazy when it comes to their hiring and disciplinary practices and more interested in covering their backsides to avoid lawsuits than in what’s best for the school or its athletes.

  13. Scott Says:

    Anyone that has ever had a deal with Cal High’s AD knows not to waste your time. You Might as well be talking to a wall. Maybe that is why things have not changed in the past 15 years!!!

  14. Kimberly Says:

    I am completely floored by what I read in the above article. I can not believe the many excuses and out right offensive statements that I read above. Clearly the story was written by someone that has had many opportunities given to them life.
    As a parent I have little sympathy for a grown man who gets paid little by choice. If the coach or others have problems with his income they should go through the appropriate channels to get him a raise.

    I think that it is extremely unfair to have children to have to miss out on opportunities because the coach needs to supplement his income and then play favorites to secure his income. As for the statement above (until you really, truly believe your kids god gift to school sports) wow talk about not knowing facts, High school sports were put in place so that our children have opportunities, memories at the least. A sport gives our children many added skills for preparing them for life skills such as team work and many more. Not all children have to become the next Babe Ruth to appreciate the skill that they take with them in life from playing high school sports. You may want to look back on why sports were put into place before making such a narrow minded statement. Sports programs keeps many children out of trouble and off the streets and gives them dreams to reach for, obviously not all of our children will become professional sports players, but they may just get a college education or supplement the college cost from their experience, but I guess we won’t ever know if their family doesn’t come from money. Shame on you!!!!

  15. Scouts Says:

    Maybe we should get away with all cuts if some players and PARENTS can’t handle it. Let’s have 30 kids on all sports teams and that way all kids can get a good experience.
    All High School coaches are do is putting there best teams on the field. If it is with players that play year around or walk on players. The coach is doing his best to pick the best 18 players.
    Are these kids going to try out for any other sports at Cal High. If they do and there are cuts involved I feel for the coaches if they don’t make the team!!!!!!

  16. Parent Says:

    I can’t believe everyone doesn’t see the real issue.
    These parents simply can NOT expect the fact that there sons were not top players. Is mommy going to go talk to a college coach?, or a company, when they once again get past by. It is a life lesson, take advantage of it parents to teach your children to accept the decision and be a better person. This is an over indulgent parent trying to point fingers at everyone. The coach they let go is by far the most outstanding leader!!!

  17. Current Varsity Parent Says:

    Way to go Cal High coach in putting your best baseball team on the field. League record to date is 2 and 8. One has to wonder if the best 18 kids were picked, or if the coach had/has a different motivation than to win? Having to forfeit our first league game for hazing was a great way to start our season.

  18. Experienced Coach Says:

    I coach a high school team, and I also coach a summer club team. I’m also a teacher. In my experience (and I have no idea whether I’m the exception or the rule) the players who play their particular sport year round are often (not always, but in the majority of cases) get better faster than those who only play during season, or split between multiple sports. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. It’s getting to the point that if you want to make a varsity team in some sports, you simply have to play that sport year round. There are lots of unfortunate side effects of this… multi-sport athletes are a thing of the past, some kids become excluded because they are well rounded and not specialized, more kids get injured because they are year round athletes… so I’m not suggesting this is a good direction we’re headed in. But I also agree that the climate of sports these days with trophies for everyone and parents having issues with anything besides positive feedback, has created a lot of kids who are unprepared or incapable of handling failure. The fact is that failure is part of life, and sports are a good and relatively harmless way of teaching kids how to handle the ups and downs of success and failure so that they can handle real failures later in life. But back to the point of the article… I don’t think the problem is coaches giving preferential treatment. I don’t even think it’s as complicated as coaches subconsciously favoring the athletes they’re more familiar with. I think it’s as simple as the best making it more often, and the majority of the best these days play in offseason clubs. It looks like preferential treatment from the outside, but it’s actually simply the most dedicated (and affluent unfortunately) having the most opportunities to gain the skills needed to make the team. Again, I’m not sure if I’m representative of every coach but I do wind up with more kids on varsity that play in the offseason than not, and I give every kid every opportunity to show me what they’ve got. The offseason kids just have the better skills more often. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

  19. Vote Says:

    Let’s Vote

    All High School Coaches

    Upset parent!

  20. Kimberly Says:

    No one is suggesting that all students that come to tryouts should make the team, nor should any student that has been on the team the prior year be guaranteed a spot. It is also true to say those students that play year round in some cases will be better than students that do not play year round, however that is not always true. When you are paying to play a summer sport you have a guaranty to play for the summer that doesn’t mean that your child is any good or better than another student that didn’t play the summer. Look at the stats for this year.

    Children should not have to pick just one sport to play to make a high school team. Children that are athletic can sometimes be good a multiple sports and remain in shape for the next sport. You should keep in mind that many of the students play multiple sports and that may be another reason (out side of cost) that they can not play the summer program. Students should not be penalized for not playing during the summer.

    If your child wants to be in an academic program that is above their education level should they be aloud to participate because they were tutored by someone teaching the program, I think not, so why should the sports department be any different? Also keep in mind that if a teacher is caught tutoring a current student outside school that teacher would be immediately fired.

    There is a clear conflict of interest which leads to the concern “is there favoritism” If there is a conflict of interest why can’t we have another unbiased judge for tryouts. Assuming a child didn’t make the team. Why is it that they can not show why a child was cut and what a child needs improvement on for next year’s tryouts? Do they not take notes at tryouts or could it be that there is no reason a child was cut outside of them not participating in the “summer program” its sad to think that any child would not make a team due having a lack in connection?

  21. Another Cal High parent Says:

    This is absolutely a case of parents needing to look in the mirror and see what the actual reasons might be that their kids are not on these teams…or any other teams right now-no more.Take responsibility for your actions-and live with the consequences. Instead of looking for outside circumstances being the excuse for poor performance, and bad behaviours. ALL of this parents’ accusations have been answered-and shot down as being unfounded.However, the article failed to clarify a few points- the first,that there is not one player on his current JV team that had played for him in any other capacity-so much for showing preference in his choices. The 4 players that did play for him in the past and were chosen for the freshman team were not chosen by him. He had NO final say whatsoever in choosing freshman players. The freshman coach failed to make that clear-as he deferred comment to the district and apparently the district did not see the necessity for answering that accusation either. The only fatal error this coach made was forgetting to fill out appropriate forms for field use. The district had a choice as to how to ‘punish’ that offense, and chose the most severe(firing) in an attempt to halt this parents’ continued harassment and threats of lawsuits. They have no basis for their threatened lawsuits, but the district is strapped enough for funds as it is and can ill afford to spend those same funds on defending long, drawn out un-winnable suits. By the way, my son has never played year round ball on any of these travelling teams. We could not afford to make the requested team donation either-(both acccusations that were made as to how kids were chosen-only by having done one or both of those things)and yet he made the team-Coaches in the past have said that he is not the top player, but he is coachable, great attitude and willing to work hard. All things a coach wants to have in a teammate. A coaches job is one of the hardest and most underappreciated there is-It is subjective-and yet he is responsible for trying to foresee the future of a team he has but weeks to judge and assimilate as objectively as possible. Then he has an entire season to live with those choices-both good and bad- and make the best of it possible. Can any of you out there claim to be able to do that without fail, and come up with the perfect combination of talent, determination and zero losses? I didn’t think so-otherwise you would be. He was the best coach we have ever had the pleasure of working with, and he is sorely missed.

  22. Jackie Burrell Says:

    This is in response to Kimberly and her comment that “… obviously not all of our children will become professional sports players, but they may just get a college education or supplement the college cost from their experience.”

    A few weeks ago the New York Times ran a fascinating story on college athletic scholarships and their scarcity. The vast majority of kids, they said, who give up everything for sports – and the parents who push them to do so because they figure it will give them an edge on a college application or help at tuition time – are in for a really unpleasant surprise. I urge any parent with a kid in youth sports to read it, particularly anyone who ever thought, “We’d better not go on vacation this summer because Johnny will miss baseball camp.” Or, “Playing varsity is my kid’s ticket to college.”

    There’s a link from this blog item.

  23. Kimberly Says:

    Jackie,

    Thank you for bringing my point home!!!! What type of parent best describes the article that you quoted?

    Could it be the very same parents that are having their children play one sport year round and paying thousands of dollars for their child to have a guaranteed spot on a high school team? Hum, something to think about.

    I am not disillusioned by the low percent of children going pro or obtaining a collage scholarship. I think I made that very clear in my above statement.

    Maybe instead of quoting articles on overbearing parents you should look into articles on how sports befit children (outside the so called pipe dream of college).

    The parents don’t seem to be upset because their child didn’t make the team, but because fair try out were not given, which opens the door to how many other kids did not get a fair try out? In Cal High’s case the original article quoted that “He (Torres) wants to build a team (the Rockhounds) that pretty much will become the Cal High Freshman team”. Play that scenario out over the years…..I can see why the parents that are supporting Torres are upset about loosing their coach. Their investment might not pay off.

  24. Love for the Game Says:

    Hopefully now that this situation has come to light, the changes being implemented will ensure that players entering the Cal High Baseball program and through-out the district in years to come get a fair try-out. This whole problem came to light because the coach failed to give a fair try-out to all potential players. What the article didn’t say:

    1- The district admitted to the parents that their children did not get a fair try-out. Cal High offered to place one son on the JV team after this came to light but didn’t offer restitution for the other son or players that also didn’t receive a fair try-out. This got swept under the rug. Nick recognized that unless everyone got the opportunity for a second tryout that this wouldn’t resolve the problem and turned down the offer.
    2- If the coach was really trying to select the best 18 players how do you overlook someone that has proven success? Nicks stats and awards speak volumes. For example besides having the best batting average both his freshman and JV year, he was also the quickest player. Because of his prowess he started every game and never sat out an inning. What changed in a year???? Sounds like someone was making placement decisions based on other things rather than on skills. Could it be “Pay for Play”? Worse yet were they cut because they like to play other sports in the off season”?
    3- When the parents asked for specifics about why their children didn’t make the team the head coach responded by saying it was based on his observations last year during the Spring Break tournament. The problem with this…He wasn’t there because he was managing his team at a tournament in Southern California. This shows a lack of credibility.
    4- No coach has the right to promise children and/or parents spots on high school teams if they play for them in the off season. Talk about conflict of interest! As someone said earlier. Coaches should go through the appropriate channels if seeking more money. Coaching high school sports is for the love of the game.
    5- To the person commenting on the 14 players on the JV team or the players on the Varsity team. What about all the potential players that were impacted by the bad decisions and conduct by the Cal High Baseball staff and admin. Who thinks about the impact on them when selection processes aren’t above board?

    This family wasn’t the only one denied an opportunity to play because they didn’t “Pay for Play”. They were the ones brave enough to bring the problem to light. Hopefully the changes that result from this problem make it a more level playing field for all future baseball players trying-out for the team.

  25. Understand Says:

    85% of travel team coaches are coaching for high school teams around the area. For sports such as Baseball, Football, soccer, (Girls/Boys) La Crosse, swim team, Basketball. You can’t tell me that the AD for these high schools dont know this going on.
    Its been this way for the past 5 years when I went up against players in track.
    You will always have it this way. Because the BEST coaches are coaching travel teams. And everyone wants the best coaches for our teams.

  26. life is not fair Says:

    Move along people…nothing to see here…

    These politics have been going on in suburban baseball since at least the mid 80′s when I was cut from the freshman baseball team in the same San Ramon Valley. Like our young anti-heroes, I was pissed off at the time because I had been passed over for individuals more recognizable to the coach from their play during summer leagues.

    I learned a wonderful life lesson from this: life is not fair. It truly is not what you know but who you know.

    As I later excelled in the sport of wrestling and went on to coach it for 10 years. After my competitive days were done, I many times found myself in the same position as the high school coach who had cut me.

    The reality was that I had more familiarity with some of my athletes than others due to the off season work I had witnessed.

    Put yourself in the shoes of a coach for a moment who wants to field the best team and ask yourself: Who would you rather have on your team, an athlete you have watched a myriad of time in a variety of situations and know exactly how they will respond to new adversities, or someone you are unfamiliar with?

    There is no conspiracy here people.

    Selecting a squad is subjective by nature. The coach subjectively selects the individuals she thinks will fit the best on THEIR TYPE OF TEAM, and parents subjectively rate their own children’s performances against those of their peers.

    This is not a perfect situation, because people are complex beings which makes it tragically difficult to make direct comparisons. If you don’t believe me, just watch all the contradictory reviews of NFL or NBA draft picks by so called “experts”.

    Intangibles such as being willing to accept a substitution level bench role or being a positive influence in the dugout, or being willing to teach younger players may be important characteristics to a coach that may not be readily visible to the person in the stands. How does a coach get beyond the physical skills in order to know the personality of a player? Familiarity.

    Again, there is no conspiracy here. Life is not fair. It is not what you know it’s who you know. People are complex beings. Those in power make subjective decisions by nature.

    If the parents are upset with the coaching, they should feel free to take the time off from their jobs in order work every afternoon for 4 months (plus weekend games) in order to earn the $2000 dollar stipend. They would most definitely be able to get their children on the diamond if they did so.

  27. cal parent Says:

    In response to Life is not fair….

    By you saying at the end of your blog, ” If the parents are upset with the coaching, they should feel free to take the time off from their jobs in order work every afternoon for 4 months (plus weekend games) in order to earn the $2000 dollar stipend. They would most definitely be able to get their children on the diamond if they did so”, you totally contradicted yourself in your own article.

    It must be a good feeling for both the patents and kids whose parents feel that their kids can’t make it on their skills and so must coach so their kids can play. We all know life is not fair, but what type of example are we setting for our children if at a young age, “Don’t worry honey, daddy has money and will make if all ok.” Money can buy anything? What happened to working hard and earning things on your own merit?

  28. Carl Says:

    I enjoyed the article on Saturday, but I am still concerned that the article did not touch on the “conflict of Interest” that exists when the coach charges $2,000 per child to play in his “summer” league and then is the person picking players for a high school team. Not every parent can afford such sums so Johnny can get a good shot at being on the team. We have let private business enter public education.

  29. cal parent Says:

    In response to Life is not fair….

    What you said at the end of your blog totally contradicted your own argument.

    It must be a good feeling for both the patents and kids whose parents feel that their kids can’t make it on their skills and so must coach so their kids can play. We all know life is not fair, but what type of example are we setting for our children if at a young age, “Don’t worry honey, daddy has money and will make if all ok.” Money can buy anything? What happened to working hard and earning things on your own merit?

  30. Understand Says:

    Again read above its at every high school every sport.

  31. cal parent Says:

    Dear Understand,

    To state that the Best coaches are also coaching travel teams is a pretty bold statement. If our society has indeed let private business enter our public education system and it is in every high school and every high school sport, isn’t it about time that school district administrators and communities take a stand to stop it.

    What a cop out for people to say, “You will always have it this way.”

  32. Soon to be Grizzlie???? Says:

    The “BEST” coaches shouldn’t be biased or they’re NOT the BEST! We know that most competitive baseball players receive their training by outside high school by professional coaches anyway. We really don’t need to sacrifice the fundamental coaching of the game, for bias coaches having unfair tryouts. For a coach to over look others because he coaches in the summer would be human nature. That’s why we shouldn’t continue to let coaches that coach other teams be involved in High School sports. If you have the attitude that you’re only going to pick “your guys” that have played for you or that I know, that’s unethical. I don’t understand why coaches and administrators can’t see the disservices they’re providing to the young players going thru a tryout. Before every tryout I guess we should try to befriend the coaches selected that year for our sport/sports of choice. Or start saving our money so we can join their summer teams…..That’s exactly the hype and fame they’re hoping for! More $$$$$ Coaches that do both should look at themselves in the mirror, and realize they’re really in it for the money.$$$$ Being a coach of both teams helps subsidize your income. At this age level there’s no baseball happening during the High School season. Just “Little League” and we all know what good coaches say about “Little League” besides that’s not a paid position. We can all agree this is happening in all sports, but it needs to end. NCS shouldn’t allow this that’s my concern or argument. Just because it’s happening doesn’t mean it should continue….The common come back when your child is disappointed…”Life isn’t Fair” I understand but administrations and coaches are to stand above that and treat all children fairly. We’re not talking the same language when someone is trying to teach children there are disappointments in life. UNDERSTOOD we need to live through our disappointments get back up on our feet and try again. Also hopefully we teach our children when something isn’t right or ethical, we stand up for what we believe in!!! Otherwise, are we saying we believe in discrimination and wrong doing! Just because it’s happening doesn’t mean we should let it continue and give in because we’re afraid of retaliation. Several families have complained about the unfair tryouts throughout the year, but finally they were forced to lesson since it went to the district level. We just want our athletes to be chosen on their abilities first, not because your friend or friends kid is “coachable”, or my wallet is thicker, or I live next to the coach, or I have really cool sports equipment to give you. I certainly hope changes are made for the up and coming seasons! I want my children to receive equal opportunity in the future at CAL HIGH in all sports. If anyone knows who’s coaching Baseball, Soccer, Football in two years let me know. I want to make sure I have my children play for them in the summer…..Just incase. No ones LOL!

  33. Missing the point Says:

    It seems you are missing the point. Just because this type of corruption may be widespread in the high school system it doesn’t make it ok.

    These parents called “Foul” in an attempt to level the playing field so that those who can’t afford the $5,000 fee or the time to play travel team summer ball will get a fair opportunity at making the team.

  34. life is not fair Says:

    In response to Cal Parent…

    I am not sure how I contradicted myself; however, isn’t playing in extra summer leagues “working hard and earning things on your own merit”?

    It seems to me that young people willing to commit to playing year round are showing a greater dedication to the sport and the extra time they have spent on the field likely will have improved their play.

    Would this entire situation be moot if the coach had a policy of asking his players to play for ANY team in the off season in order to improve their play. In that case, the players get better, the high school team gets better, and the coach does not directly benefit financially?

    In response to missing the point…

    I’m not sure if you comment is directed at me since it is addressed to “you”; however, I’d like to respond.

    The word “fair” is subjective. I am not sure how you are defining it.
    I believe it is fair for a coach to fill a roster with complimentary parts. This is what the word “team” means. A “team” does not work if it is entirely comprised of starting players. Additionally, it is important to have a team filled with experienced players of all ability levels.

    I do believe it is “fair” to select the most experienced players for a team. Clearly, although some may not be able to afford the money or time, filling out a roster full of players who have played together in the past and/or have logged greater playing time on the field in the past will only improve the squad.

    I stick with my original point. No coach on the planet is objective. If a parent wants to guarantee playing time for their child, they should get involved with coaching the team themselves and help to create the roster as they see fit. They can then firsthand deal with the inevitable complaints from the parents of the players they cut.

  35. Peter Brewer Says:

    I stumbled on this thread, and find it fascinating. I coach and teach at the high school level, but my sports are cross country and track where we have not cuts, no bench, and everyone gets all the same playing time. ASide from the relays, there is no decision to be made other than to look at the stopwatch or the tape measure and use those very objective standards to determine who is the better performer on that day.

    Still, I feel for the coaches and the parents of the ball sports, as cuts seem to be a real concern and seen as some sort of fatality. Coaches try to field the best team they can, parents try to advocate for the kids, and the kids want to try hard and play hard and at least have a chance to win once in a while. This situation has increasingly become more volatile; hence this thread.

    The comments I want to chime in on are the ones about the “best” coaches and the high school coaching job itself. First off, the “best” coaches in any sport are not restricted to the ones who coach the winning teams at the end of the school season, or the end of the club season, or who put together the most impressive summer team, or the ones who actually get parents to pony up the most money to join the off-season team. Very few sports are so technical or so complex that only a mastermind can impart the skills and understanding to kids. It is the coach that is genuinely interested in the development and improvement of the kid that gets my vote. It is the coach who understands fundamentals, as well as subtleties, that I respect. There are many of these coaches at all levels who labor under the radar, not demanding personal attention, not asking to be recognized for their time and involvement. Of course, they might not have the splashy winning teams every season, but the athletes that go through their teams come out with a better understanding of the sport, and a sense of accomplishment.

    And for the comment about challenging the parents to take the coach’s job, and see what it actually entails: I couldn’t agree more. If any parent of one of my athletes wants to do my job, they are more than welcome to take the clipboard and stopwatch and everything else that goes with it and have at it. They can also take the phone calls. Even my assistant coaches don’t want my job. The job for many has become not a fulfillment of some altruistic impulse to help kids, but rather a form of matrydom by becoming the vulnerable, obvious target for parents (and administrators at times).

    I can only encourage the coaches that are doing the to continue, and also to tell the younger coaches to try to stick with it. I’d also like to try to get parents to understand that almost all coaches are really pretty good.

  36. 5 Billion Reasons Says:

    Can somebody please explain why we even have HS sports programs? Most kids don’t make it, if they do they sit on the bench. Teachers being fired, third world educational facilities, the list goes on, but we continue to fund this stupid “ritual” of HS sports. And for what? So that some “elite” kids can go on to college for a year or two, just long enough to “mature” and get the big bucks? The pro sports leagues and the colleges should be funding HS sports not the hard paying tax payers of this state.

  37. littlemama Says:

    I believe Carl has hit the nail on the head; the bottom line is that it’s a conflict of interest for public school coaches to also coach privately run AAU teams that include their public school players. Claims of favoritism have, and always will, exist in any youth sports environement. (ie; the coach who puts his good friend’s kid on varsity even though he/she doesn’t belong, the teacher-coach who lets a player slide on academic assignments in his class, etc.) It’s never going to be perfect, which is indeed one of life’s lessons. However, I think it’s an absolute conflict of interest for coaches, to own, manage or get paid from AAU programs that include players who hope to play for the coach in high school. I also think it’s a conflict of interest for coaches to hold summer camps, clinics, etc., (charging hundreds of dollars for players to attend) and then market the camps to his/her own public school players. Of COURSE players are going to attend, hoping that it will give them a few extra brownie points when it comes time to the public school team selections. Finally, it’s also a conflict of interest when public school coaches schedule preseason tournaments for his/her public school team to better accomodate his/her AAU obligations. (What player would want to miss a preseason tournament for fear of infringing on league playing time, even if the tournament is held out of state and costs hundreds of dollars to attend?)

    Basically, it’s a conflict of interest for coaches to personally financially benefit from their public school players. We have definitely “let private business enter public education.” Since EVERYONE is doing it, perhaps it’s time for NCS to step in with new guidelines regarding off-season and preseason coaching?

  38. To Parents of Current CHS Players Says:

    The fascinating thing here is that all the parents think they are the experts! As usual.

    Quite honestly, the athletes know which kids belong as well as which coaches are worth a grain of salt. They also know which players and their parents are total suckups.

    Regarding CHS baseball – let the record speak for itself. The self proclaimed “guru” of CHS baseball (Coburn) has driven the program into the ground. The so called “outstanding” JV coach was dismissed from the CHS program the year prior for failure to properly fill out an application (read through the lines – lie). Think the district has had a few words about judgement with the AD regarding the rehiring of that coach”? Fool me once…

    The local coaches (ex-professional athletes) that run businesses – but not teams – all admit the CHS program lacks leadership as well as baseball knowledge. As one CHS student aptly put it, “If he (Coburn) was a baseball “guru”, everyone would know – he wouldn’t need to label himself.”

    You can bet that if you follow the program closely there will be changes coming down the pipe at CHS. Parents complain about coaches all the time – rarely does the district office open & conclude an investigation within 4-5 weeks of a parental complaint – initiating wholesale changes that will be placed into effect at all three high schools in the district next year. I suspect Coach Coburn will not be everyone’s best friend at the annual coaches dinner.

    To blame one families complaints on the lack of success of a program is folly. To blame the lack of success of a program on the inability to evaluate talent and provide leadership is fact! The talent pool at CHS is as good as anywhere… remember this years crop of seniors lost 4 games total as Freshman and JV players…two teams that the current head coach had no part in picking of players, running practices or calling the shots. In fact the players he pulled up to varsity as Frosh/JV are some of the weakest on the current team.

    For those sticking up for coaches at the HS level that also run “travel teams” and “clinics”… I think a person of average intelligence can see the conflict of interest here. When, as a coach, you have the ability to bring in an extra 25-50k annually – are you not affected by the people writing the checks? I know I have an expectation that if I write a check to someone for 2-3k I am going to get something out of it.

    This family and their children will move on and grow from the experience. This coach and this program are in for hard times both personally (the coach) and on the field (the program). I would be shocked to see him promoted from assistant AD to AD. I suspect the personnel file grew a little thicker over this incident – as it should.

    In reading these threads it is apparent that the only ones sticking up for the coach are parents of current players and other HS coaches. Coaching is difficult. Some coaches try to be fair and impartial in their evaluation – but the majority are human and can be swayed – some quite easily….

  39. baseball player Says:

    for the record, there is too much sympathy for the young man who got cut from varsity. i have had conversations with him about tryouts and he told me that quote “i though i had the team made…yea i admit i didn’t give it my all.” Now you tell me that thats the kind of kid you want playing second base against MV in a 1 run ball game in the seventh? i rest my case.

  40. Jackie Burrell Says:

    If you’ve got concerns or opinions about the disconnect between high school academics and athletics, we’ve got another high school sports-related discussion thread starting up here…
    http://www.ibabuzz.com/aparentlyspeaking/2008/05/15/athletic-championships-vs-ap-exams/

  41. WOW Says:

    The family and the kids should stop crying and move on. I wonder how these kids are taking it at school. I could just imaigne what the ball players are saying about there little Mom.

  42. Concerned Parent Says:

    As a parent whose child goes to school in the San Ramon Unified School District, I am outraged to read about unethical behavior by athletic directors and coaches. Any hint of impropriety or unethical behavior is unconscionable. There should be a “zero tolerance” policy. The administration has a fiduciary duty to provide the best education to our children, not to act in their own self interest. All school districts are facing the biggest budget cuts we have seen in decades. To know that we will be losing some of the best teachers, but retaining coaches whose behaviour is in dispute is irresponsible. Our job as teachers, parents, coaches, etc, are to teach our children to have ethical behavior, to act responsibly and to have integrity beyond reproach.

  43. If you really knew the young man Says:

    If you knew this young man, you would know his comments were a coping/ defense mechanism.
    If you really knew this young man you would know he is a fierce competitor and isn’t lax on the field. He had the best batting average and one of the lowest fielding error %s last year which proves he is very skilled. He started every game and never missed an inning of play. In basketball he was awarded the Best Defensive Player Award both his Freshman and Sophomore year. He earned these awards because of his competive spirit.

    That is the kind of young man any one would want on his team.

  44. Kimberly Says:

    To baseball player:

    I am not comfortable with your approach to singling out one child and make this blog about them. This has nothing to do with any one particular child. The subject is “Was this a case of unfair try outs for ALL”
    “And for the record” I’m pretty sure that anyone that received the alleged response you received didn’t know this child very well. Your statement is off base and not inline with people that know him well.

    It is clear to me that “WOW” must have been a child themselves. I don’t believe any parent with commonsense would post a statement like that.

    Which brings me back to my first point; we need to be aware that everyone has access to this blog and it should not become a bashing ground for any child let alone one.

  45. brandon Says:

    I know the kid who was ‘cut’ from the baseball team this season and I know a lot of kids including myself who have been cut from teams. The difference is that when me and some of my friends were cut from an rugby team in Berkely we had a chance to prove our abilities. There were objective tests that proved we weren’t good enough relative to other kids there. The kid that wanted to play at the Public High School known as California High was not given an equal opportunity to meet standards that would prove or disprove his talent relative to the other kids out there.
    I’ve talked to kids on the team that know that he has game and even people who don’t know him can get an idea of the kind of athelete he is considering he has won 2 defensive player of the year awards on his basketball team. He was on the Varstiy football team as a sophmore and returned kicks for the team that same year. As a junior he was a starting wide reciever while part of the EBAL championship football team, whose recieving corps was arguably the best in the league. To this information some might say, well that doesn’t necessarily correlate to his abilities on the baseball field. While I disagree, because I think that some parts of athletics translate well from sport to sport, I suggest people still in question as to whether or not he is good at baseball read the post above this one that states his error percentage relative to others he played with last year and who got the opportunity to play this year.
    These facts alone don’t prove that he is good nor should they have gauranteed him a spot, but wouldn’t an explanation as to why he didn’t make it be due considering how shocking and unexpected his release was? It’s not like he was on the border talent wise and a decision had to be made based on how many kids could fit on the roster. This kid could have helped the team so why wasn’t he given a chance? This is a sad story, but not for Baseball or Cal High. This is a sad story about individuals who behaved unethically and when given the chance to rescind their positions decided to push on despite obvious and unnecessary hurt to a kid who just wanted to play ball.
    I know him to a certain degree and despite misleading attempts to make this player seem like there was a just reason to not give him an honest shot at making the team, we who are concerned are left with another story with the reoccuring theme of: the abuse of power when there is no incentive to honor fundamental codes of conduct. Some can brush things off despite the impact that their decisions have on kids just trying to play ball, I hope that in time these people involve themselves in acivities that they can handle.

  46. Baseball Player Says:

    Kimberly:

    I apologize for singling out this child, you are absolutley right that this thread is about unfair tryouts for all, but i know the young man, and have played ball with him since I was 13, he is a very competitive person without a doubt which is why i found it so confusing when he told me that. I know what i heard and i know that it is unlike him, but it still raises question as to whether or not he would give it his all when his teammates needed him when he apparently didn’t give it his all at tryouts. Also his name was published in the Newspaper so if we are talking about singling him out, everyone knows his name now and it doesn’t make much of a difference

  47. Kimberly Says:

    Baseball player:

    I realize that the news paper published names; however to pin point him out and make the article solely about him is unfair. I feel that his family is very brave in trying to make try outs fair for all, so that others do not have his same experience. Let’s keep in mind that he was not the only child cut from the team and not the only child whose parents think that try outs were unfair. This Childs name was an example, but not to be used as the headliner. It is not this one child that is being treated unfair it is many students who go to try outs and one day might be you.

    Assuming you play the summer program because most of the teams does; how would you feel if you got cut from the team because you could no longer play during the summer? Wouldn’t you want a teammate to stand up for you!

    I think that if you heard this child’s statement directly or indirectly you should have stood up for your old teammate knowing that this was out of character for him! Everyone handles disappointments in life differently. He is also in the spot light as you suggested. How would you yourself handle that kind of pressure from your peers?

    Let me ask you this; Has this player ever let you down before? Do you think that he would have helped out your team this year? Do you think that the coach made a mistake? In your opinion did he deserve to be on the team?

  48. Carol Says:

    Amazing like to read prep blogs. if parents think paying makes the athlete this is the parent that thinks their kid will go pro save your cash and pay for college cuz you are paying a babysitter coach.

    (Note: This comment has been edited to remove offensive language.)

  49. coach Says:

    I have coached baseball in San Ramon for 15 years and have coached many different levels. I have personally coached the boys that were cut many years ago, and have coached at Cal-high. One of which was hitting extremely fast live pitching at 5 years old, succeeded in Little league, won the Babe Ruth World series and was Home run champion at the Babe Ruth World series. This kid is an athlete as he is a varsity starter in two other sports. He is extremely fast, a hard worker, in shape and has athletic smarts. I have seen high school tryouts and personally I don’t know how they select anyone. From my tryouts 6 years ago, I don’t remember exact times, but I know who was faster than whom and by how much. For this coach not to know how fast this kid ran is ridiculous. I have also read his dialog with the parents, and he was extremely conceited and unprofessional. Perhaps this coach not only needs a lesson on how to run a team, he needs to know how to hold a conversation with adults. As far as the athletic director goes, I agree with several of the other bloggers, that the AD at Cal is a joke. Many problems start and continue with his incompetence. There are high school fall leagues, that are inexpensive and open to all high schools in the league. I know Angelo Scavone of Foothill used to have two teams in the league virtually trying out 30 kids for about 5 or 6 double headers. The kids pay a minimum amount to play and by 10 or 12 games you get some idea of who can play and who cant. There is no limit to the number of teams, so you could literally try out 75 kids against high school talent. Much better than giving a kid a pop up, grounder and 5 swings off a batting practice pitcher. This kid has hit well for 12 years and you can look up his stats on the JV team. He was one of the better hitters and played most of the time, yet this high school coach picked kids that were bench JV players. I just wish Cal could play the best kids. To say these parents are just upset because their kids were cut is unfair. They are upset because their kids were not given a fair tryout and evaluation. Cuts are tough, I have done many over the years. I also tried to make sure that the team I picked was the absolute best available. It is much easier to coach good athletes than poor ones. It is a truly remarkable coach that can take less talent and win. Obviously Cal didn’t have remarkable coaches as their record in league speaks for itself. For the record none of my kids were involved in this incident and I have no stake in this. I have known these kids and parents as well as several that made the team. I do not have any ill feelings towards people that made the team, other than Cal truly didn’t field its best team. Please do not crucify these parents as they are nice people with nice kids who truly got treated unfairly. No one knows everything about baseball, except this coach believes he does. As he gets older he will learn quite a bit about baseball and managing a team that he doesn’t yet know.

    Coach
    San Ramon

  50. B Philip Says:

    How do you all feel about a coach that has his own children playing on the team? Lets say the assistant coach also has a daughter playing on the team. And it clearely appers that the coaches kids and thier friends on the team, get preferetial playing time over others with comparible ability. Is this conflict of interest? But waht can be done about it? To complicat maters further, what if the coach was married to your wives sister and because of some untold sibling rivalry your average+ JR. kid sat the bench or was even kicked down to JV. and humiliated by this and other inappropriate actions. Is this on going issue(3rd year) grounds for a civil Suit?

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