|moving on to Regionals, 2011-Recreational Track and Field|
Let me clarify this letter prior to your reading…it was written (and sent) to the coaches of the middle school (7th and 8th graders) track team to which my son didn’t make the team. Although I risk being viewed as a disgruntled parent, I’m not. I’m more upset with the principle that these coaches missed a gigantic opportunity to send a message to invite all kids, regardless of talent, to get up off the couch, get active and to start young in developing a healthy lifestyle. Instead, it appears the coaches persisted to send a ‘win at all costs’ message that society continues to perpetuate.
As a parent of a child who did not make this year’s middle school track team, I felt a strong need to question and understand your objectives and goals for such a sport. As in most sports at the middle school level, coaches have an unenviable position of having 50-plus students try out for a single team and then whittling those names to a roster to 12-20 kids. Granted, these teams; soccer, baseball, football and basketball are definite sports of skill and ability. Most likely, the kids who make these teams have been in the sport for a good part of their lives in order to develop these skills.So while Nicholas did try out for basketball and soccer, we feel he probably knew as well as we did that there was little chance he would make the team.
However, in trying out for the track team and the perceptions toward such a sport I thought might be a bit different as running is a unique kind of sport. If the correct goals and objectives are in place at a middle school level as well as the desires of coaches, track can have the irreplaceable benefit of developing youngsters into their abilities as well as evolving kids into a positive and healthy lifestyle.I’m finding it difficult to understand how in a sport where numerous runners can be placed into most given events (multiple heats) that you would have a rooster of only 15 or so students? Track is the ideal environment to get many students involved not only during practice but giving many a chance to compete in at least one event. What considerations have you given to injuries or kids that drop out?
Having been a track coach (my husband) that qualified athletes for the state finals I was able to grow my program by encouraging every student that wanted to be a part of the team to come out. Needless to say I was never surprised by a student who matured into a competitive athlete. But perhaps the most rewarding part was having the knowledge that each student felt a part of the TEAM. So despite wanting to build a team that was competitive I did not do this with a win at all cost mentality. Nonetheless it appears obvious your interests lie elsewhere.Allow me to share with you the link to USA Today where a school in your own backyard, Green Hope High School has developed an outstanding cross country program dedicated to students for the joy of running and the desire to be part of something bigger than them; wouldn’t our middle school children be so lucky to have such an outlook? Other schools are showcased in the article as well and granted they are speaking of students at a high school level, but I can assure you many of these runners developed as middle school students who were given an opportunity to participate, belong and advance whatever abilities they encompassed.
In researching records set by 2011 North Carolina Middle School runners; the very individuals you are coaching, a fourteen year old youngster ran the mile in 4:58-Very Impressive! A seventh grade student ran and won a meet with a 5:29; again, good for them!-however those students are few and far between since many other North Carolina Middle School runners completed events and placed in the top twenty with times over 8 minutes. While they were not in the medals they came away with something even more valuable, again they competed as a member of a TEAM.
The point is that while winning is the reason we keep score much more can be gained by any kid that has a strong desire to be part of something. I’m convinced they had dedicated and caring coaches to foster, nurture and encourage them and their love of running. I only wish Nicholas would have been afforded that same chance!