Seriously, what do you do?
I've always thought Little League was a great way to instill a love of baseball to young kids. My 2 children, age 7 and 5 play little league. My oldest Jacob has been playing for 4 years now.
At the beginning, he could care less about baseball and really was just out for the social aspect. That is still where my daughter is. The teams they’ve been on have been great. Good coaches that really emphasized a kids first mentality.
This year, my son moved up to the next level. Scores are kept. Intensity level rises. The neat thing about it is that he’s finally starting to show interest in baseball as a whole. There’s just something great about him wanting to play catch, doing a little batting practice or playing "pickle" with him and my wife (she’s a baller!).
Anyways, this year has not gone as we expected. The team coach emphasized all the right things at the initial meeting but as soon as practice started, things changed.
When we did drills, it was one drill for the entire practice. Usually though, practice consisted of him hitting infield while the outfielders watched and got the occasional stray ball. My son played defensive pitcher and was involved more than most, but still, practices just weren’t fun. We have several friends on the team and some of their kids were the ones left to fend for themselves in the outfield. In addition, kids weren’t allowed to try other positions. Each kid was placed in a position and rarely if ever did that change.
To make matters worse, the coach would yell at the kids for making mistakes or pull them mid-inning and bench them. It was overall creating a negative environment. Twice we had kids crying after being yelled at for making mistakes. The children were starting to complain about games and practice.
We went to the coach and offered to help with practices, specifically citing the outfielders. His response was that games were slow in the outfield and he was trying to teach the kids patience. When we mentioned that maybe things could be a little more positive, he responded that he wasn’t saying anything mean.
We made these suggestions in a friendly and helping way and the conversation ended without any bad feelings, or so we thought.
We started to get emails from the team mom about new rules. The rules looked like they were targeted at my wife. One example would be when my wife and another parent swapped snack bar duty schedules because the other parent had an issue. An email went out to all families stating that while the league allowed parents to work out substitutions, the coach and business manager had decided that the team would not allow swapping because they were concerned that it would lead to other people working the snack bar that they were unaware of. (this is just one of the subtle examples)
We then started to see moves that appeared to target our son. First he was moved to the bottom of the batting order. Then on 3 different occasions he was benched or moved to the outfield while another child was put in at pitcher. Sadly, the other kids hadn’t been coached at the positions. One child was so afraid that he was turning his back to the batter and eventually got hit, another was almost in tears because of being yelled at for making mistakes. Each time my son was put back because they were unable to find an adequate replacement. It went on and on. There are a multitude of other instances and problems but this is a blog post and not a novel.
My wife and I were frustrated but we bit our tongues and tried to stay positive for the kids. Our thinking was that until he does something outright mean to our kid where our son realized it, we won’t respond.
This all culminated with the coaches wife verbally attacking my wife at the last practice of the season and physically threatening her in front of all the children and parents.
We wrote a letter to the board along with several other parents. Sadly, our coach is a member of the board. This creates some interesting dynamics because of the voluntary nature of the organization and the fact that he contributes a lot to the league puts them in a tough situation.
We honestly don’t expect much to occur and are really reevaluating our relationship with the league. It’s hard because we’ve had such positive experiences in the past and made so many wonderful friends. But you have to draw the line somewhere.
Well, today we saw what they’ve been posting on Facebook. This was to the mother of one of the kids that they are friends with.
I am at a loss. They are talking about 7 year olds. I feel like something should be done. I feel like we’ve been quiet this whole time when we should have started a campaign for their removal.
I just feel like I should do something but I really don’t know what.
note: I wrote this more for myself to just write it down because of the frustration. Even now, I’m not using names and bluring out stuff, when I truly feel that people should be made aware of them. Thank you for indulging me.