February 21, 2011

A Coach's Obstacles

I'm not sure if it's been the weather, or what, but this season has not really taken off like I hoped. I guess I thought our team would pick up practice right where we left off in May. It just seems as though the kids' work ethic isn't there. We do have a LOT of new faces, and many kids from last year are not on the team. Coach H and I sat down a few days before the first meet to brainstorm the reason(s) for lack of effort, and additional ways to motivate.

I think the weather, up until this week, has really been getting us down. Runners from lower Alabama just aren't made to run in sub 30 temps.

Next is the whole "work" issue. By this, I mean that a LOT of my athletes have jobs. At first I didn't really consider this an interference. One evening, pretty late, TP and I went out somewhere and he wanted a milkshake. We drove through Whataburger and working there was one of my throwers. He had gone straight from track practice (ended at 5) to work and would work until 10. This was on a school night! No wonder some of these kids are motivated- they are exhausted. I am constantly reminded how
"early" these kids have to grow up. Can you imagine helping support your family at 16?

The next interference is the Alabama Graduation Exam. A lot of kids have trouble passing. So... they have tutoring after school and on weekends.

Then there's the usual high school drama like teen pregnancy and drug use. One of my sprinters quit the team this week b/c she's pregnant. Which leads me to drug use and Thursday's track meet.

We were supposed to leave for northern Florida at 2:30. I arrive at the high school and see police cars out front. None of the kids are waiting and Coach H is nowhere to be seen. Apparently they scheduled a drug bust/search for 2:00 on Thursday. Meaning, none of the kids or teachers could leave until the search was over. I waited, waited, and waited, and finally Coach H came out with some "bad news." Two of our track kids had been arrested- one for marijuana and one for unlabeled prescription pills. We finally got on the road, but were so late that we had to forfeit ALL jumping events, plus boys' shot put.

The actual meet went smoothly, and I feel like the kids ran hard THERE. It's every day practice that concerns me. They aren't making the efforts needed to get better. We ranked 5th out of 6 teams. But, it's a wonder we weren't dead last considering the number of events we didn't even participate in.

On the way home, Coach H and I came up with a little plan to motivate. We both agreed that we should be more vocal with positive reinforcement. We also are in the process of making a school record board. We researched as many times as we could find and noted the fastest/farthest in each event. We plan to make a large board that will be displayed as a challenge for the athletes to beat. Also, I sat down with the kids and just talked to them about working hard, believing in themselves, and having high goals. Friday, Saturday, and today's practices went VERY well and I could tell that the kids are really making an effort now. I'm hoping the momentum will continue until our next track meet!

In other news, I'm off run in the Del Sol Ragnar Relay this weekend- soooo excited!


  1. Sounds like a rough spell for your team, but the record breaking idea is AWESOME!! I'm looking forward to seeing how it all turns out for the team. I really hope it continues to motivate them.

  2. Anonymous2/21/2011

    Geesh, in high school the biggest drama we had on my track team was three students getting cited for possession of alcohol as minors. In college it changed to eating disorders and sexual harassment, but still... Tough for your kids. I think if you can instill some pride in them (think "being perfect" from Friday Night Lights) and the choices they make outside of practice, maybe that'll get through to them. A school record board could be a good motivator, especially if you can get some kids challenging relay records, relays seem to bring out the best in kids because they're doing it for their team as much as they are doing it for themselves. What about a team unity night? Shorten practice and treat the kid to pizza and an inspirational movie?

    Coaching these kids is a wonderful thing, Rebecca. It's truly a pleasure to read about. Kick some butt this weekend!

  3. OMG, you really do have a Lifetime Movie Of the Week going on at your school. I LOVE the idea of the records board, what a fantastic way to motivate. Other than that, whew, what drama.

    Have a great time this weekend, can't wait to hear all about it.

  4. Wow, dramalama! And...I'm so glad I found your new blog URL. I was looking for it on the old link and it said it was't there anymore. Hope Ragnar was totally rad!