Kyle Gray knows basketball.
But in a crowded conference room on a sweltering July afternoon in Yakima, no one attending a clinic seemed to care about that. They wanted to know only one thing from the Edmonds Community College men’s basketball coach: How do you deal with parents?
The troubling stories seem endless. Some recent examples:
• In April, Kristen McDonnell, a high-school girls basketball coach in Braintree, Mass., resigned after eight years “with a very heavy heart” after citing troubles with parents despite a recent 63-game win streak (she returned in July).
• And last year, parents from five Cascade Conference schools influenced their football coaches to forfeit games against Archbishop Murphy due to safety concerns, putting the Everett private school in the national spotlight.
“It can be a mine field for coaches,” said Gray, who has 14 years of experience coaching girls and boys sports on all levels.The July gathering in Yakima was Gray’s first clinic on helping peers manage the parent-coach relationship as part of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Coaches School.
More than player talent and facilities, parents and their behavior toward coaches might be the biggest factor in the success of a high-school sports programs, according to those interviewed for this story. And what’s driving this divide between parents and coaches? Many say it’s the push to land athletic scholarships.
“I know so many coaches who have just stopped coaching because of the parents,” Gray said. “And parents who get upset with coaches, pull their kid and go somewhere else.
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