I recently read an interview Bill Althaus did with Blue Springs South coach Sherry Rehmer and found  it very interesting. In this article, Coach Rehmer alluded to her frustration with the parents of her athletes. She also made a reference to AAU teams. This was followed by a commentary from Tim Crone on the state of high school athletics.

I recently read an interview Bill Althaus did with Blue Springs South coach Sherry Rehmer and found  it very interesting. In this article, Coach Rehmer alluded to her frustration with the parents of her athletes. She also made a reference to AAU teams. This was followed by a commentary from Tim Crone on the state of high school athletics.

I have coached competitive basketball in the area for a number of years, and it is safe to say that I probably have a different view of the world than most high school coaches. While I appreciate the time and energy devoted to high school programs, I find the disdain for AAU and summer programs perplexing.

Ms. Rehmer acknowledges that her tennis players know how to play the sport before they get to her. I would also suggest that Mark Spigarelli is very appreciative of the basketball talent he has inherited over the past few years at Blue Springs High School. I know that many of those players put in a ton of hours in the summer and on the AAU circuit. As a result, with further coaching from Spig, they have competed at a very high level during the winter. Most high school basketball programs are anchored by kids who put in a lot of work over the summer.

I think the high school experience can be a very rewarding one, but my point has always been that it isn’t the only option. At the end of the day, sports is often about the memories made while competing. This can be for your school or for a club team during the “off-season.” I have coached a lot of kids that remind me of the travel, the restaurants, and other memories that will always be with them. It is unfortunate that this is often reduced to an either/or discussion. High school sports work well for a certain set of kids, but don’t render other options a bad thing.

As far as coaches go, there are good and bad within any organization. The definition of good will always be debated! I know a lot of summer coaches who make remarkable investments into the lives of the kids they are coaching. Often times, I think the coaches envy one another. Summer coaches long for the structure of the high school program, while high school coaches may feel pressured to match the success of the summer programs.

One sound bite that has always made me crazy, “summer ball is simply run and gun;” that just isn’t true. Neither is the claim that  it fosters a “me” mentality. Any program could slip into that trap. That would more be a reflection of leadership. There are so many talented coaches spending time with these kids in the summer who really know how to teach the game. The high quality of area basketball is due largely to the teaching of local coaches like Mike Titus, Dalton Vann, Scott Knoche, Kim Evans, Doug Murdock, Leonard Horton and James Price.

In Crone’s recent article, he seems to call out many parents for sportsmanship issues. It is ironic, because I hear more and more that profanity from high school coaches has become the norm. So much so that kids I speak to view it as a non-issue. At a minimum, a challenge should go out for all of us to do better by these kids.

I do view this as a fascinating topic and am convinced that all coaches and mentors should strive to work in the best interest of the kid. For the record, I am not defending any action that may have  disrupted the chemistry of a particular program. I have just grown tired of the stone-throwing between school sports and the competitive circuit. I think both can be used to further develop the player.  

Thanks, and kudos, to Bill Althaus for consistently addressing relevant topics!