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High School ADs and Town Youth Sports Leagues

Should an athletic director have any influence with programs that feed into his schools?

 

I feel the need to disclose that this is Day 5 of being in Diet Soda Detox. It’s not an easy place to be. I’m drinking Polar Seltzer with Natural Pomegranate Flavor instead of my Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi. I’m cranky and have the jitters. So before getting started I’d like to thank Patch for letting me continue my writing obligations during this difficult period.

This week’s Splenda-free topic: High School Athletic Directors (ADs) and their relationship to youth sports (pre-high school).

The subject was presented to me in an email from a reader in a town where they are in the process of interviewing candidates for the AD position.

The president of one of the town’s youth leagues sent a message out to the parents of past and present players. Here are the highlights of that email:

“This afternoon, (the high school principal) sent out a message to parents within the high school asking for input on the things that they want to see in the new Athletic Director which is currently in the Job search stages. This is significant and all parents that can attend the meeting (date) at the high school should. Even if you don’t presently have a child in high school it does and will effect (sic) your children. This position has significant effect on the youth programs. It is important that this hire has a strong business sense, enthusiastic spirit, independent thinker and willingness to push our athletic programs at all levels to produce competitive teams at the high school level.”

Many parents in the community believe that there should be no connections between a high school athletic director and the youth programs in town. I honestly had never given the subject much thought until reading the email. So I began thinking about the positive and negative effects of such relationships.

Where should the line be drawn? The youth football league in my town is unique because we have players from several towns in the area. It’s more of a regional setting and all of the players are redrafted each year and play against other teams in the league. One’s hometown is not a factor in team placement.

I’m not sure that an AD from a school that hosts other town’s players would have much interest in supporting a league set up in this manner. Many of the league’s players end up as stars on high school teams in neighboring towns. To me it’s what makes the league great and unique. It brings together people who normally would not be playing, coaching, or “working” together. Pre-high school youth leagues are mainly products of the individual towns and rarely cross borders.

But I’m drifting away from the subject just a bit. I know that high school coaches of almost every sport will hang around and watch some of the youth practices to look at players and show their support for the kids. I’ve always admired a coach for doing that.   

My town’s varsity basketball coach and his players held a clinic for youth program-aged kids and their coaches recently. He told the kids it was their way of giving back to the community. I love that. To me there is nothing that compares to watching older players mentoring the younger kids.

I also know that in many towns the high school coaches meet with the youth coaches to discuss what they would like to see in a player once he gets to the high school level. They may even suggest using some of the same plays or formations that are used by the high school teams. Again, I never gave it a second thought.

Maybe the fact that the high school has its eyes on a youth league puts a little more pressure on its coaches to win and ultimately use the better players to do so. Now we are falling back into the same trap that I’ve been suggesting we crawl out of.

I can see it becoming an issue if the youth program becomes a feeder to the high school and focuses more on the 7th- and 8th-graders headed to the next level while not paying as much attention to those that will end their careers in the sport after their last game as a youth player.

So we need to break this down a little. Is it just the AD who should not have opinions or (for lack of a better word) interests in the youth programs or should it trickle down to the coaches and high school players as well?

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you for your feelings (nothing more than feelings …) on the subject. How much interaction and influence should a high school AD and his programs have on the town’s youth sports programs and why? There are compelling arguments on both sides of the fence. I’d like to get off the top of it before I go into complete Splenda withdrawal.

Anthony Fiorino March 09, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Ron, this is a hot and contemporary topic and I'm glad you bring it up. This is a show in and of itself and perhaps you and I can work on doing the show together. My personal opinion is that an AD is avoiding his duties if he doesn't insist that his coaches not only have an interest in the youth programs, but have a direct impact on how the youth coaches should run their drills and play a part in setting expectations of what is expected of an athlete when they join the high school ranks. Lots more to discuss so lemme know when we can talk. Best Coach Tony Host of Hey Coach Tony on ESPN Radio
Ron Goralski March 09, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Hi Coach- Do me a favor and go over to: http://westhartford.patch.com/articles/a-look-at-the-high-school-ad-s-role-in-a-town-s-youth-sports-leagues That's where most of the comments gather. Not sure why they all don't meet at one spot. Please report this over there as I know it will be of interest to those that have commented already. And yes that sounds good!
ksav March 10, 2012 at 05:59 AM
Town Youth Sports Leagues are for learning conditioning and fundamentals. High Schools are for teaching and growing techniques. Youth sports leagues are supposed to be volunteer coached. High Schools are coached by paid teachers. ADs do not need to be influences in YL coaching or expectations. Youth Leagues should be for the kids to decide what they like. The YL coaches will provide enthusiastic learners when kids find what they like!
dwightholland March 10, 2012 at 09:37 AM
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Peter March 11, 2012 at 03:01 AM
ADs have no business in youth leagues. Youth Leagues are to learn and develop fundamentals and to give all youth a chance to learn the sport. Sports in general teach life lessons in preparation, work ethic, humility, and decision making. All youth should be exposed to some sort of sports for health reasons as well. We as parent volunteers and coaches do not know who will be the athletes at the next levels, we can influence what the youth become only by teaching individual and team skills appropriate to their age. To put it in the words of a high school football coach "Teach them to block, tackle, run, throw, cover receivers. Make it fun. If they develop a passion for the game on top of the fundamentals we will have great seasons."
Ron Goralski March 12, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Lol Dwight. I think you got lost for a minute. Free samples? :)

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