Braintree lost the best basketball coach in the state yesterday when Kristen McDonnell resigned. The indication is that she no longer wanted to deal with some of the parents.
Everybody is shocked that she stepped down, but the reason isn’t shocking at all. It isn’t exclusive to Braintree, but how unreasonable are (some of) the parents there if this is true?
Winning isn’t everything in high school sports, but everything is more fun when you win. No program has had more fun winning over the past decade or so than Braintree.
Let’s put winning aside for a second. Braintree had an energetic, talented and passionate coach that built the Wamp girls hoops culture on making relationships and memories. If you look through the @BHSWampsBball twitter account, managed by Kristen McDonnell, you will see endless tweets from her praising past, present and future Wamps. You get a glimpse into how she mixes it up during practices with fun events for the girls such as Survivor Day and building an all-male scout team to get the Wamps ready for tough Bay State and D1 competition. What student-athlete wouldn’t want to be part of program like this? The next person I meet that has a negative thing to say about Kristen will be the first one. Why in the world would any parent want to force her out the door?
Varsity coaches don’t make a life changing stipend. Most get into high school coaching because they recognize how important high school sports are and want to create memories and instill values for the players in their program. And of course, coaches want to win. Coaches put in more hours than most will ever comprehend towards building a winning program, but there’s only so much one can take.
Some parents are really good at ruining a good thing. When one accepts a varsity coaching job it is understood that criticism comes with the territory, but there is a threshold where the coach asks himself or herself: “Is this still worth it?” I’ve been there.
The tragedy is that 90% of the time, the player is a pleasure to coach. Massachusetts is polluted with Lavar Ball, Richard Williams and Todd Marinovich wannabees that insist on living vicariously through their children and I hope Kristen’s resignation is an eye-opener to the state that something needs to be done about it.
What can be done about outspoken parents that ruin high school athletics? I think athletic directors and school administrators need to put their heads together and come up with a statewide standard for parental behavior with specific consequences.
Perhaps parents need to participate in a preseason behavioral workshop before each season and sign an oath to not be a disruptive blowhard. Consequences include ejection from game, suspension from games and ultimately removal of son/daughter from team. Nothing is going to change without consequences.
As a coach, you can have that individual sport preseason meeting and go over player and parental expectations and just hope that everyone complies because you have faith in humanity. Unfortunately, coaches need assurances and protection because there will always be parents that are cancerous dinks.
Hopefully this Braintree situation ignites the discussion about what to do with unruly parents.
If the best coach in the state can be pushed past her breaking point, then nobody is immune to this. Good luck to the person that has to fill her shoes.