Claudia Meyer finds herself in a unique situation.

She is a counselor at Valley View High School in Blue Springs, and the mother of one of the top basketball players at Blue Springs South High School, Shawn Meyer.

Claudia Meyer finds herself in a unique situation.

She is a counselor at Valley View High School in Blue Springs, and the mother of one of the top basketball players at Blue Springs South High School, Shawn Meyer.

On a daily basis, she sees the good, the bad and the ugly side of high school activities, and she does her best to be a positive influence in the life of everyone she touches.

“If all my parents were like Claudia and (her husband) Tony Meyer, my job would be pretty easy,” South coach Jimmy Cain said. “It’s kind of funny – back when I went to Central Missouri State University, there was a married couple who worked in the Multipurpose Building, and they always brought their baby in a carrier.

“That couple was Claudia and Tony, and that baby was Shawn. Knowing Claudia and Tony as long as I have, I can see why Shawn is such a great kid.”

Meyer was a big reason the Jaguars enjoyed one of the best years in school history, even though to an outsider, it might appear his role on the team diminished.

“You know, last year he was a scorer on the team,” Cain said. “And this year, we needed him to change roles. We needed someone to be more aggressive getting rebounds and helping other guys score points, and Shawn accepted that role without question.

“Today, not many kids would be willing to do that. You know when a kid will accept a role that takes him out of the spotlight that he has some great parents and great upbringing. And I attribute a lot of that to his mom and dad.”

As Claudia Meyer gives a short tour of Valley View, an alternative high school in Eastern Jackson County, she is warmly greeted by every student and faculty member.

She knows every student’s name, what class they attend and their outside interests.

“Some of the young people don’t get a lot of attention here, and I want them to know that someone really does care about them,” Meyer said. “In my role as a counselor, I deal with so many parental issues. And many of those issues are the same things I see when I attend Shawn’s or Marcus’ (her younger son) games.

“I see parents screaming at coaches. Or, even worse, screaming at their child or another child on the team. That’s why we had Tony coach Shawn from kindergarten through the sixth grade, because we didn’t want a coach or parent screaming in our son’s face.

“One parent from one of our boy’s teams was screaming at his child, and it just broke my heart. Tony is an elementary school P.E. teacher and he works with kids and deals with parents all the time.

“So I asked him to talk to the dad. He talked to him and asked him if he thought he was helping the situation. I don’t know if the dad understood or cared about what Tony was saying, but he did quit yelling at his son at games.”

Shawn Meyer developed into a premier area player, and plays the sport year round. Yet Claudia is not a fan of some AAU coaching antics.

“Shawn played for a coach who disagreed with the way Shawn was being coached in high school,” Claudia said. “We go to most practices and overheard what was going on, and we were eager to see what Shawn said after practice.”

When practice ended, Shawn approached his parents and said, “I need to find a different (AAU) team.”

That was what the parents hoped to hear from their son.

“We found another team, and he was so much happier,” she said. “We talk with Shawn and his brother all the time. They aren’t counseling sessions, we just talk. Tony and I were very young parents, and we know that we’re not perfect parents, but we want our children – and any other child, for that matter – to know that we are there for them.”

That’s an approach noted sports psychologist Dr. Andrew Jacobs wishes more parents would follow.

“For so many of today’s parents, they look at their son or daughter who plays sports and see nothing but dollar signs,” Jacobs said. “They think about scholarships or they think about being a big-league player and signing a big contract.

“And let’s face it, that just isn’t going to happen with most student-athletes. The pressure mom and dad puts on a high school student in some cases is unbelievable.

“It’s like the 6-year-old who plays on a traveling team. Or the senior in high school who a parent believes doesn’t go on to college because the coach didn’t give him, or her, the chance.

“Believe me, I’ve been around enough coaches to know that if a kid has talent, he’s going to play. So many parents live their lives through the lives of their children, and that creates a lot of stress on a kid. Who wants to be playing and hearing your mom or dad screaming from the stands? And it happens all the time.”

Jacobs says the days of a kid simply enjoying a sport are fading.

“When was the last time you saw a group of kids playing some sport at an elementary school without a coach or supervisor?” Jacobs asked. “I haven’t seen it in 20 years. “Everything has to be about organized sports, and it’s not about the kids. It’s about the parents. And that’s when the problems start.”

On the high school level, Jacobs said coaches and activities directors need to do their best to deflect a problem before it arises with parents.

“It’s a societal issue, and it’s going to do nothing but get worse,” he said when asked about problem parents and the issues that arrive on the prep level.

“First and foremost, coaches and ADs must set strict guidelines, and do it before the season starts. Have a preseason meeting with parents, coaches and players, set down guidelines and make sure that they are enforced.

“Don’t just have a parent sign a paper and that’s it. Make sure the guidelines are enforced and that the parents follow the rules.

“What it all boils down to is this – let the coaches coach, the kids play and the parents watch. Then, everyone can really enjoy themselves.”

Jacobs and Meyer have simple words of advice for out-of-control parents, but both fear that their words will fall on deaf ears.

“Let the kids be kids,” Jacobs said. “Let them play and enjoy the sports and their teammates and have some fun.”

Meyer agrees.

“Can you imagine playing a sport and feeling like mom or dad will think less of me if I don’t succeed?” she asked. “Parents and their children should talk about their issues. We talk with our kids all the time, and I don’t know if they always agree with us, but we always leave feeling better about the situation.”