Let’s spend some time examining the coach for a while. Actually, if you do coach you should probably be examined. Most of my coaching experience has dealt with baseball and softball. Believe it or not, coaches have feelings. Some more than others. It takes a person with pretty thick skin to coach. Because you know that every decision you make, some crazy parent is telling other parents of the stupid decision the coach just made. Do parents take things personal? You bet they do. I had a parent once get mad because I batted his kid fifth instead of fourth. The parent told me he was thinking about taking his son to another school. I told him, “Well, I’ll look forward to playing against him.” I think the father is still standing there with his mouth open. Parents, I know some of you get very frustrated after a game if your child’s team loses. Do not confront a coach during the game or after the game. Emotions are very high and either the coach or you may say something that is said because of emotions.

How do you measure how good a coach is? By wins? Not necessarily, but I imagine a lot of parents and administrations do. I know a coach that I have a great deal of respect for and have coached against him before. His team lost 20 games this year and I think it was one of the best coaching jobs he has done. His team competed in every game that I saw and keeping a team positive is a testament to him and his players. But winning games certainly keeps the parents and administration happy.

Why do parents email or text coaches? These forms of communication are like hiding behind a mask. I coached with one coach that any decision he made would bring on the wrath of a crazy parent. It was to the point where on away games if he drove the bus 5 miles over the speed limit she was texting the AD. I would always tell a complaining parent that I don’t go to his or her place of business and pretend to know what he or she does, so don’t come to my place of business and show me how stupid you really are. I was in the AD’s office the next day.

You parents who coach any child from the age of one to 12 should receive the President’s Medal of Freedom award. I saw a game last weekend between two teams of eight-year-olds that I wish the teams I coached could have seen the game. These young players were throwing to the correct base and hitting cut-offs. It was very impressive. Myself, I couldn’t and wouldn’t coach below the ninth grade. The main reason is because I’m afraid of most of those kid’s mothers. And they don’t miss a thing. If the teams are allowed two coaches out of the dugout and a third coach sticks one foot out of the dugout, oh my. I think each team has a designated spy to catch this kind of cheating.

I love baseball and it really bothers me to see players and coaches disrespect the game. They can do this by wearing the uniform disgracefully; they can make obscene gestures to umpires or opposing players or some parents; players can belittle players on the other team. I love the way the girls handle their softball games. All of their enthusiasm and chants are directed to their own players. For the most part they don’t throw helmets and they don’t swear. I have been to several high school games lately and the exhibition players show in the dugout toward the opposing team is ridiculous. I have just never been one to tell my players to spend the whole game chastising their opponents. If one team is ahead of their opponents by a substantial score, stop stealing, stop bunting and stop arguing close plays. I would never tell a player to try to strike out no matter what the score. I hope most coaches make decisions based on how it will affect the outcome of a play, not thinking about what a parent might think of his decision.

Most coaches are the grounds crew for their field. Coaches mow the grass year round and have a large area to maintain. This is a weekend and summer job as well. It takes a very understanding wife and family to handle a coach’s juggling of responsibilities. Supplements are nothing compared to the hours a coach puts in. I have seen high school teams with a coaching staff of six or seven assistants and the head coach has the luxury of delegating. Not around here. Besides coaching, coaches are teachers and have classes and lesson plans to prepare for. I don’t think it is the intention of coaches to make parents unhappy. I know I couldn’t have survived without the support of parents. I was blessed to have had some wonderful parents and I am sure most of the teams around here have the support of their parents and administration.

I am proud and honored to have been a part of the coaching profession. Thank you to the many coaches who sacrifice their time and their family time to help produce responsible young men and women. In some instances the coaches are mother and father figures. It is a lot of responsibility for a coach to absorb.

Roman Gus Bell is a retired high school baseball coach.