How tough is too tough for a youth coach?
A southwest Washington school board’s decision to keep a high school boy’s basketball coach accused of verbally abusing, shoving players, and using the F-bomb, has people arguing over whether this is a case of a coach taking things too far or a case of kids who need to toughen up.
Camas High School coach Skyler Gillispie came under fire for his treatment of players after a number of students and parents complained. But the Camas school board on Monday voted 3-2 to renew his contract for the upcoming season.
School officials and board members backed Gillispie, saying he made a “sincere effort” to improve his behavior and deserved a second chance.
“Looking at coverage of this story, I was reading the viewer comments, and they were strongly saying the kids were just a bunch of pansies, and that coaches sometimes drop F-bombs, and sometimes will grab a kid, and that the kids are just being a bunch of wimps for complaining about all this,” said KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson, who is a high school basketball coach himself.
But a former JV coach at Camas High School says Gillispie remains the problem.
“My problem is the kids are the ones that are going to pay the price here. Some of these kids are going to have to endure this young man for a third season,” said former Camas High School JV Coach Larry Crafton, who adds that Gillispie’s offenses date back to the first game of his career at the school.
“His first season at the high school, the first game of the season, he flew off the bench, belittled and demeaned a player in the course of a game in front of friends, family, and peers,” said Crafton.
The confrontation on the court resulted, two days later, in Gillispie removing the player from the team, said Crafton. “That was the start of the 2011-2012 season.”
There were other incidents where Gillispie was physical with players, according to Crafton, who outlined an incident where the coach grabbed one player by the back of the jersey in the middle of the court and another where he “clothes-lined” a player on the sidelines.
Gillispie’s verbal communication with players also went over the line, in Crafton’s opinion.
“I will tell you I understand coaches use the expletive from time to time in a motivational sense, but never in an angry statement at your players,” said Crafton.
As a coach himself, Dori doesn’t think it’s ever appropriate to use profane language with players.
“My standard in coaching is if it’s something I wouldn’t say on the radio, it’s something I wouldn’t say to my girls,” said Dori.
“I don’t understand that as a motivator. My personal belief is you want to get kids loyal to you. You want to get to where they’ll run through a wall for you because they don’t want to let you down. I’ve never understood this whole concept of motivating by fear,” said Dori, who adds he saw first hand with one of his daughter’s, how a bad coach can poison a sport for a kid.
“We, as coaches, are going to affect kids in a very positive way or a negative way,” Crafton agreed. “In 22 years, it is clear to me that you have to respect your players and you have to earn their respect.”
Dori said his main goal is to make the high school basketball experience a really positive one for all the members of his team.
“My goal every season is that my girls are going to look back on their high school basketball experience as one of the great joys in their life and if we, as coaches, aren’t helping make that happen, then we’re failing in our job, flat out,” said Dori.
“As a coach, I’m not a big guy on player and family mutinies because I also know things can just steamroll against good people sometimes,” said Dori. “But based on what I’ve heard, I don’t understand bringing him back.”