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Sparks Journey from Little League to College

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  • Trust in leadership is becoming so rare. Just maybe this coach knows what he is doing?? Your grandson is a JR right?

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    • Sparks for you all you know he was being saved for this game.

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      • Yea, sounds like the coach was hiding little Sparks.

        Sounds like you are back to manic

        I am back to Depressive. h Son had worst game of his life last night. He's bummed out. Tomorrow's another day.
        efastball.com - hitting and pitching fact checker

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        • Sparks said: My boy has gone from depressed and wanting to quit to being on cloud nine. I'm so proud of him I could bust. After all that has happened for him to come out and have a game like that really says a lot about his character. I'll tell you this...... he has far better character than I do.... I seem to make every mistake and I usually make them more than once.
          Sparks, there's no way an emotionally healthy kid with your boy's track record should be threatening to quit the game because he's been held out of a couple of games. Trust me - there are a lot of kids out there who've suffered greater prejudice by their coaches and have gone on to succeed.

          Last year, our high school varsity started the season 1 and 10, and the coach basically threw the same crew of losers out there game-after-game. Many kids didn't get to play until the 8th game or so. Hey, my son had batted over .300 the previous two JV seasons and, as a pitcher, had a 'batting average against' of .196. Yet, he didn't get an at-bat until the 11th game and didn't pitch until the 16th game. He did well and I'm proud of him, but he and I didn't make a big issue of the fact that he wasn't playing and didn't go bananas when he finally played and did well. Other kids suffered a similar indignity and their parents worked as hard as I did to avoid letting their kids get upset about it. All those kids but one stuck it out and from what I can tell had a good experience overall, both because they finally had a chance to show their stuff and because it was a good group of guys and they enjoyed hanging out together in the dugout and helping each out at practice and in games.

          I know you insist that you're not sharing your own emotional rollercoaster with him, but it's hard to believe he's not emulating your own feelings based on what you're telling us. It's not enough to hide your emotional ups-and-downs; you need to aggressively calm him down by reminding him of past disappointments that were followed by his biggest successes. If he's not playing, tell him to find a way to help his teammates - catch in the bullpen or lead the cheering from the bench, or handle the scorebook. It helps to genuinely demonstratively enjoy the successes of every kid on the team and the team as a whole. You can't control what the coach does with your boy, but you can control how it affects you and him. And maybe remind him of the Barry Zito redemption story.
          sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

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          • Originally posted by songtitle View Post
            Yea, sounds like the coach was hiding little Sparks.

            Sounds like you are back to manic

            I am back to Depressive. h Son had worst game of his life last night. He's bummed out. Tomorrow's another day.
            As we all know, baseball is a tough sport with many emotional roller coasters. Looks like Spark is the sine wave and you are the cosine wave. lol

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            • Originally posted by Ursa Major View Post
              Sparks, there's no way an emotionally healthy kid with your boy's track record should be threatening to quit the game because he's been held out of a couple of games. Trust me - there are a lot of kids out there who've suffered greater prejudice by their coaches and have gone on to succeed.

              Last year, our high school varsity started the season 1 and 10, and the coach basically threw the same crew of losers out there game-after-game. Many kids didn't get to play until the 8th game or so. Hey, my son had batted over .300 the previous two JV seasons and, as a pitcher, had a 'batting average against' of .196. Yet, he didn't get an at-bat until the 11th game and didn't pitch until the 16th game. He did well and I'm proud of him, but he and I didn't make a big issue of the fact that he wasn't playing and didn't go bananas when he finally played and did well. Other kids suffered a similar indignity and their parents worked as hard as I did to avoid letting their kids get upset about it. All those kids but one stuck it out and from what I can tell had a good experience overall, both because they finally had a chance to show their stuff and because it was a good group of guys and they enjoyed hanging out together in the dugout and helping each out at practice and in games.

              I know you insist that you're not sharing your own emotional rollercoaster with him, but it's hard to believe he's not emulating your own feelings based on what you're telling us. It's not enough to hide your emotional ups-and-downs; you need to aggressively calm him down by reminding him of past disappointments that were followed by his biggest successes. If he's not playing, tell him to find a way to help his teammates - catch in the bullpen or lead the cheering from the bench, or handle the scorebook. It helps to genuinely demonstratively enjoy the successes of every kid on the team and the team as a whole. You can't control what the coach does with your boy, but you can control how it affects you and him. And maybe remind him of the Barry Zito redemption story.
              Well said, and very good advice.

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              • Originally posted by Ursa Major View Post
                Sparks, there's no way an emotionally healthy kid with your boy's track record should be threatening to quit the game because he's been held out of a couple of games. Trust me - there are a lot of kids out there who've suffered greater prejudice by their coaches and have gone on to succeed.

                Last year, our high school varsity started the season 1 and 10, and the coach basically threw the same crew of losers out there game-after-game. Many kids didn't get to play until the 8th game or so. Hey, my son had batted over .300 the previous two JV seasons and, as a pitcher, had a 'batting average against' of .196. Yet, he didn't get an at-bat until the 11th game and didn't pitch until the 16th game. He did well and I'm proud of him, but he and I didn't make a big issue of the fact that he wasn't playing and didn't go bananas when he finally played and did well. Other kids suffered a similar indignity and their parents worked as hard as I did to avoid letting their kids get upset about it. All those kids but one stuck it out and from what I can tell had a good experience overall, both because they finally had a chance to show their stuff and because it was a good group of guys and they enjoyed hanging out together in the dugout and helping each out at practice and in games.

                I know you insist that you're not sharing your own emotional rollercoaster with him, but it's hard to believe he's not emulating your own feelings based on what you're telling us. It's not enough to hide your emotional ups-and-downs; you need to aggressively calm him down by reminding him of past disappointments that were followed by his biggest successes. If he's not playing, tell him to find a way to help his teammates - catch in the bullpen or lead the cheering from the bench, or handle the scorebook. It helps to genuinely demonstratively enjoy the successes of every kid on the team and the team as a whole. You can't control what the coach does with your boy, but you can control how it affects you and him. And maybe remind him of the Barry Zito redemption story.
                Outstanding post UM, I was biting my tongue at the "I had a bad day/week/whatever, the coach hates me and I wanna quit....oops, never mind" theme that keeps percolating to the surface here.

                I agree 100%. Focus on the team, and not on the various, perceived injustices that will always be part of the game...many times, regardless of the level of play, or the sport for that matter (can anyone say, "Alex Smith"?).

                Nice job UM, I hope the advise is taken to heart.
                In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

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                • Originally posted by Ursa Major View Post
                  Sparks, there's no way an emotionally healthy kid with your boy's track record should be threatening to quit the game because he's been held out of a couple of games. Trust me - there are a lot of kids out there who've suffered greater prejudice by their coaches and have gone on to succeed.

                  Last year, our high school varsity started the season 1 and 10, and the coach basically threw the same crew of losers out there game-after-game. Many kids didn't get to play until the 8th game or so. Hey, my son had batted over .300 the previous two JV seasons and, as a pitcher, had a 'batting average against' of .196. Yet, he didn't get an at-bat until the 11th game and didn't pitch until the 16th game. He did well and I'm proud of him, but he and I didn't make a big issue of the fact that he wasn't playing and didn't go bananas when he finally played and did well. Other kids suffered a similar indignity and their parents worked as hard as I did to avoid letting their kids get upset about it. All those kids but one stuck it out and from what I can tell had a good experience overall, both because they finally had a chance to show their stuff and because it was a good group of guys and they enjoyed hanging out together in the dugout and helping each out at practice and in games.

                  I know you insist that you're not sharing your own emotional rollercoaster with him, but it's hard to believe he's not emulating your own feelings based on what you're telling us. It's not enough to hide your emotional ups-and-downs; you need to aggressively calm him down by reminding him of past disappointments that were followed by his biggest successes. If he's not playing, tell him to find a way to help his teammates - catch in the bullpen or lead the cheering from the bench, or handle the scorebook. It helps to genuinely demonstratively enjoy the successes of every kid on the team and the team as a whole. You can't control what the coach does with your boy, but you can control how it affects you and him. And maybe remind him of the Barry Zito redemption story.
                  Good post UM.
                  "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                  - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
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                  • Sparks - sounds like things are turning around. That's great to hear!

                    But I want to touch on if you or your boy (or any parent or player for that matter) should talk to their coach and ask why they aren't playing. I've seen alot of posts about how the kid should go ask or the parent has every right to ask, or how you should just let your boy show is talent and the coach will be forced to play him, etc....

                    But I haven't seen anything about using a different method....

                    What about the player simply asking, "Coach, what can I do to get more playing time?" or, "Coach, what can I do to pitch more, hit more, etc....?"
                    *disclaimer* I did not read every single post so may have missed someone else making this point.

                    I see no problem having a player ask the coach what he could do to get more playing time. Its the same asking, "why am I not starting?" but in a self-accountability way which keeps the coach from answering in the defensive and forces him to answer in an instructive manner.

                    If a player or parent go up to the coach and ask why isn't little Johnny starting, it automatically puts the coach in defensive mode and figuring out how to justify his position.

                    You may still not like the answer, but at least the coach will give you something to think about instead of just turning you away because its his policy not to talk playing time.

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                    • jbolt: What about the player simply asking, "Coach, what can I do to get more playing time?" or, "Coach, what can I do to pitch more, hit more, etc....?"

                      Just wondering: when you've been on the other side of the coin--when you were the coach who wasn't giving PT to a player--how would you have reacted to the technique you suggested?
                      Skip

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                      • Originally posted by skipper5 View Post
                        jbolt: What about the player simply asking, "Coach, what can I do to get more playing time?" or, "Coach, what can I do to pitch more, hit more, etc....?"

                        Just wondering: when you've been on the other side of the coin--when you were the coach who wasn't giving PT to a player--how would you have reacted to the technique you suggested?
                        skip - In all honestly, I would tell the player/parent something like this, "Johnny, I would like you to get stronger with your hitting. You tend to do XYZ when facing a live pitcher. Come to practice a little early tomorrow and start working on this. Or be sure to work on this during your hitting time in practice."
                        Something along those lines....


                        FYI - I have coached 7+ years from t-ball to Juniors Little League. Two teams per season and All-Stars in 5 of those years. Of all this time, I have had only two players complain about playing time or position. One was when I first started and the parent was upset that her son was not starting at Short Stop. She came and was being very aggressive telling me he needed to start there and that the two other players there were no good. Those two players were arguably in the top 5 players in the league. Her son could hardly catch a ball.... This was in Minor League (9-10yo).

                        The second was last year in Juniors when the parents pull their son off the field as soon as the last out was made and would threaten to quit because their son was not starting catcher. He had started catcher for his team last year (because no one else wanted to catch on his team) and the coach played everyone where ever they wanted to play (Lefties at 3rd, SS, Pitcher who has never pitched before, etc...). Well, this time there three catchers who were better than him (all three are now freshmen playing on their Varsity squad). He played catcher a handful of times, but the parents were unrealistic about his abilities and eventually yelled at me telling me I had no idea how to coach and tried to get their son to transfer to another team.

                        I guess I'm telling this because had they come to me level headed and asked what they could do better, I probably would have said "work on XYZ and we will see what we can do, but keep in mind Jimmy, Danny, and Tommy are quite good at this position and have earned it in their abilities work ethic and results from games."

                        Instead, I got defensive and explained that their son was not ready for this position and needed more work, etc.... Essentially the same message but with a different tone, which then makes things worse with already upset parents.

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                        • Originally posted by jbolt_2000 View Post
                          He played catcher a handful of times, but the parents were unrealistic about his abilities and eventually yelled at me telling me I had no idea how to coach and tried to get their son to transfer to another team.

                          I guess I'm telling this because had they come to me level headed and asked what they could do better, I probably would have said "work on XYZ and we will see what we can do, but keep in mind Jimmy, Danny, and Tommy are quite good at this position and have earned it in their abilities work ethic and results from games."

                          Instead, I got defensive and explained that their son was not ready for this position and needed more work, etc.... Essentially the same message but with a different tone, which then makes things worse with already upset parents.
                          So basically you're saying that besides having a different opinion than you on the abilities of a certain player, and you giving them your personal opinion of the player, their son's amount of playing time at that position (and probably elsewhere) didn't change....correct?

                          I gotta ask, what was accomplished, other than the parents possibly feeling a wee bit better, or was it rather pointless of the parents speaking with you when it came to getting their son additional playing time?

                          Now apply that to a level of play where all players know going in that playing time is not guaranteed to anyone, and that zero mandatory play is required....so what's the point of talking with the coach again?
                          In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

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                          • Originally posted by mudvnine View Post
                            So basically you're saying that besides having a different opinion than you on the abilities of a certain player, and you giving them your personal opinion of the player, their son's amount of playing time at that position (and probably elsewhere) didn't change....correct?

                            I gotta ask, what was accomplished, other than the parents possibly feeling a wee bit better, or was it rather pointless of the parents speaking with you when it came to getting their son additional playing time?

                            Now apply that to a level of play where all players know going in that playing time is not guaranteed to anyone, and that zero mandatory play is required....so what's the point of talking with the coach again?
                            Maybe I used bad examples because the players in my story were not as talented as Spark's kid and they got at very least minimum playing time.

                            If the players were relatively equal and I just chose Jimmy over Johnny because he was 'hot' that week then I would have a better understanding of why Johnny was not playing and could give him more of a chance to get back on the field.

                            My main point, though, is for Spark's kid or a similar kid to ask the coach what he could do to get more playing time or play another position if the kid in his position is obviously more talented. Rather than whine and complain about, "my kid is better than that kid so why isn't playing???" (Not saying Spark does that - just saying).


                            I have a couple of kids I coached over the years who are now freshman playing on the varsity squad of our local high school. The head coach also says not to ask about playing time. These two freshman (as well as two others I have only coached a little) are all starting over Seniors. Well, they just had a game last week and the seniors did not play - their parents were hemming and hawing about their kid having earned their spot and why do these freshman come in and take their spots (and throughout this hemming and hawing admiring how well these four players are playing). Then after the game one of these seniors leaves immediately after team talks and I hear him swearing and cursing to his dad about how he should be playing because he is a senior.

                            --- If I am the head coach here - I would not play these players based on productivity. As a Head Coach your job is do teach players and win games is it not? Its not about making everyone happy. I mean if you lose enough, you get fired right?
                            --- So if I am the head coach, and these parents/kids came to me yelling and complaining, I would put up my defense and then my ego would get in the way and say, "Its my team I coach how I want. etc, etc..." If they came to me and said hey coach, "we know these freshman are good, but I feel I am equally good, what am I doing different that keeps me off the field and what can I do to earn my spot back?" Then I probably wouldn't have my guard up and explain to them that yes these kids are good, but you are strong as well. these kids are playing because they make diving plays or make contact more in at-bats, or are more aggressive on the bases, etc... This at least gives that senior an understanding of my choices and gives him something to work on. Its not a lost cause but a goal now.


                            I don't know - maybe I'm not making my point clear or maybe I am totally off and when a High School coach says "Don't ask me about playing time", then he means "there is nothing anyone can do or say because I am all powerful and everyone must bow to my decisions or get the hell of the field."

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                            • I moved this comment / question to a new thread.
                              Last edited by johnlanza; 02-28-2013, 11:37 AM.

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                              • I think a point that gets overlooked by Sparks, at times, is that he and the coach have very different goals. The coach's main goal is to build a solid program for the school and to win. Sparks main goal is the welfare of his grandson. If you look at the entire thread you can see how Sparks trys to balance his and the coach's goals but in the end there are times when it gets the best of him since his goal involves more emotion. With just the limited facts, I assumed that possibly the coach was looking at his schedule to see where Sparks jr. could help impact the team. Another thought I had was that we never know of Sparks jr.'s attitude throughout these struggles. One of my biggest questions with the last few pages of the thread involving the high school coach is this; Does Sparks jr. take the first step in trying to speak to the coach?

                                Honestly has he taken the time to speak to the coach in a proper venue and time. Right after the game is not the appropriate time. I am not trying to bust chops but this key point always comes to mind with anything posted involving the high school coach.

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