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Coyote
(@coyote)
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Greetings Coaches

Beyond aggravating development…  

Some of you may have experienced something along these lines before, any advice is appreciated... 

Every league has its malcontents / trouble makers, and over the 7 yrs I’ve been in this league, nearly all our league’s drama comes down to the same 4-5 coaches, one way or another.   Since the end of last season, it became known that several of these coaches were working together try to stack 2 teams (one at our Jr. level, one at the Sr. level),  at the end-of-the-year-wrap-up meeting back, the league rewrote some rules ending some ambiguity in the original wording, clarifying a couple rules.  The new wording put an end to the attempted team-stacking.  And, it seems there were harsh words exchanged over this...

Since then…  it was learned the malcontents and several parents had gone behind the league’s back to form their own club, intending to poach the best kids from the league to form a 3-4th grade team and a 5-6th grade team.  Essentially, they would cherry-pick the best kids and be a travel team masquerading as a Rec-league team with the intent of competing against other Rec-league teams 

They’d quietly been recruiting kids / families, some of whom had not realized it was a break-away group.  Fortunately, they got outed before they were ready to go public and a couple families they had recruited have backed out.  Basically, their bovine excrement made violent contact with the ventilation system.  The poachers have been banned from the league & league facilities.

The other night, a few of us coaches at our level met, learned that the poacher’s plans had fallen thru and they are now out of the league and will take their kids to other leagues in nearby counties, including 2 with which we do cross-over challenges.  Its assumed they will seek coaching positions in those other leagues.

Problem is, they are taking a goodly number of kids with them.   They present themselves as trying to save the kids from a league built on win-at-all-costs – the rest of us coaches are unscrupulous, dastardly villains, led by an incompetent board.  Some parents are buying the bologna they are peddling.

If this holds up, we’ll take a hit in numbers, not as bad as would have been if they had succeeded.  Still it’s enough, that – with an unusually small class coming up from the 7U (tho the class behind them is huge) we were already looking at the probable reduction of one team at our level (3rd & 4th grade) but now with the losses due those leaving with the poachers, we could lose 1 or 2 more teams. 

The debate is, would it be better with fewer teams but more kids per team (meaning potential loss of 3 teams) or more teams with fewer kids each (loss of 1 definitely, but probably 2).  The Sr level (5th & 6th grade) looks to take a hit as well, but may weather the storm better since they’d recently added a team.

Of course, then the question becomes, which team(s) gets cut? 

The game belongs to the kids. Parents and coaches need to check their egos at the parking lot.

Upcoming board meeting should be very interesting…

This topic was modified 2 months ago by Coyote

Umm.... why does that 6 ft tall 9 yr old have a goatee...?


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CoachDP
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I have no answer for you because I have no idea how this conference(?) is set up.  Do you mean this as a specific "org" problem, or as a "conference" problem? 

You will never, ever get parents to "check their egos at the door" in any child's activity, much less one that is competitive.  That's like complaining that it's cold at the North Pole.

--Dave

 

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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CoachDP
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I also don't understand the complaint about "poaching."  Parents (and kids) have every right to go wherever they want, in order to participate.  (Even if that means making their own team/org/conference.)  Too many orgs dismiss parents and players as "disloyal" when they go elsewhere, as if they've signed some sort of lifetime contract with that team/org/conference.  Most anyone would leave where they are (for a better situation), whether it be a school, job, neighborhood, etc.  What determines "better?"  No idea, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  The best way to combat poachers is (like anything else) make sure that the experience you offer is light years ahead of what anyone else provides.  And even if you do that, you'll still have some that think that they can do better than you, and will move on.

The problem here isn't that poachers have taken their kids and damaged your team/org/conference's numbers.  The problem here is that your team/org/conference hasn't done enough to attract enough kids so that you aren't vulnerable to such "poaching."

Would this be a concern if your team/org/conference still had another 30 kids for every team?

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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Bob Goodman
(@bob-goodman)
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So far I'm seeing this (the complaint, not the subsequent choice of how to reorganize) the way Dave Potter sees it.

Coyote's organization has to make a choice, or maybe already has chosen, between being a house-ball league that forms teams primarily to achieve maximum competition and participation, and being a league that invites clubs to participate with as loose or strict rules as the league wants to put on where their players come from.  But with that choice in place, don't complain that families react accordingly to align with their preferences, and in particular don't be surprised if parallel organizations operate.  That's freedom of choice.  You can have rules to place players on teams within your league, but you can't have rules keeping them from jumping outside the league.  If you want to close your league so the teams in it play exclusively in it, you can do that, in fact that seems to be the commonest arrangement.

As to the question of where to go from here, I need to know whether Coyote's is a draft league or similar house-ball arrangement, or composed of clubs that make their own rosters and have the players move up from class to class.  If it's house ball, then it's a matter of deciding how short the rosters can be and maintain viability, and from that figuring how many teams you can have, class by class, and then deciding (again, class by class) whether to keep the existing teams and have a dispersal draft from the teams that are too short, or to throw all the players into the mix and draft all the teams from scratch.  The Bronx Warriors used to have that board decision every year, and sometimes it was one way and sometimes the other, and would frequently be different in the different classes (divisions).  Sometimes it was an expansion draft.

If it's a league of independent clubs, then you need to look at each club's overall picture, not just where their rosters stand in any given year for each class.  It should primarily be their decision whether they want to forego competition in one class for one season, taking in the possibilities of some players playing up a class and others sitting out a year.  Since you have 2-year classes (Coyote mentioned 3rd-4th and 5th-6th grades), this can be tricky, as it can lead to a roster's swelling and shrinking every other year, but it's not as stark a situation as with single-year classes.  A club might rightly decide their kids would average more playing time if they dissolved and could join other nearby clubs.


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gumby_in_co
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Taking a numbers hit always sucks.  If i had a choice between too big of a team and too small of a team, I'd take the former every time. Just my two cents.

We've had more kids leave for greener pastures with my current group than any other team I've coached. I can't think of a season (out of 4 seasons) where we didn't lose one or two of our "top 5" athletes. I coach my way with my priorities. Same when Mahonz was in charge. We coach "Outlaw Football". It's not for everyone. So, essentially, we couldn't meet the wants/needs of about 10 families. 

At the time, it felt that these kids leaving would be devastating to us. The funny thing is that our culture immediately improved with these kids gone. Then, we actually got better as a football team. Most importantly, the overall experience of the kids who stayed improved dramatically. 

I believe in our culture 100%. If a player/family doesn't want to be a part of it, I don't want them.

Mahonz and I have coached a handful of these kids who jump from team to team looking for the "best situation". By middle school, they had found their way onto "elite" tournament teams. I can't think of a single one of them who made noise in HS football. I can think of 3 of them who did jack squat at the HS level.

When in doot . . . glass and oot.


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Coyote
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We are a county-wide rec-league. If folk outside the county want to sign up their kids up for our rec league they are welcome.  If kids in our county want to play elsewhere no problem (One of the talented kids from my team did go to another county to play with another team, where the dad had some of his co-workers kids playing).

The kids go into a pool and the coaches draft from the pool forming the teams.  we have a combine in which the kids are put in groups the groups rotate among the coaches, coaches pretty do what they want to judge the talent.  The coaches get to see each kid twice.  We have a draft.  Any kid not seen by all the coaches are drawn from a hat after the draft.  We have 3 levels, 7U (Pee Wee);  3rd & 4th grade (Jrs) and 5th & 6th grade (Srs).  

Some coaches had decided to try to work together to stack a Jr team and a Sr team.  When the rules were clarified and re-written to prevent this, the coaches involved decided to form their own club. 

Here's the issue...  not that they decided to form another club....  but instead of being up-front with the league about forming a travel team from within the league like men, they chose to sneak around and form their own club with intent of cherry-picking the best talent they could get from within the league. 

No one can stop them from doing so.  Before they were ready to go public, one of the coaches not involved found out about what they were doing.   Once what they were doing became public knowledge, that they what they were doing was not with the knowledge and blessing of the league, but was in fact creating a separate club, they lost some of their support, having been deceived into thinking this was a league thing. 

The place they were intending to practice and hold their 'home games' dis-invited them, having been led to believe they acting as part of the league. 

The teams they had contacted about playing had also been led to believe they rec team, not realizing they were equivalent to an all-star /  travel team and so declined to play after-all.   

And so they were left without a place to play, or opponents to play, and some of the families whom they had recruited thinking this was part of the league have withdrawn their kids from consideration once they realized they'd been deceived. 

They do not want to play a travel team schedule.   And so, they fell fell apart.  

This was not about creating a better experience.  It was about feeding adult egos, not what was best for the kids.  

 

Umm.... why does that 6 ft tall 9 yr old have a goatee...?


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Coyote
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Posted by: @coachdp

ou will never, ever get parents to "check their egos at the door" in any child's activity, much less one that is competitive.  That's like complaining that it's cold at the North Pole.

It may be idealistic, but I believe in that ideal and will push for it.   Some of coaches in our league feel the same way as we do, and demonstrate it.  Some don't, and and you can see it in the way they coach.    I tend to be that guy who stands against the tide, in hopes I can get others to do so as well. 

This post was modified 2 months ago by Coyote

Umm.... why does that 6 ft tall 9 yr old have a goatee...?


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Coyote
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Posted by: @gumby_in_co

The funny thing is that our culture immediately improved with these kids gone. Then, we actually got better as a football team. Most importantly, the overall experience of the kids who stayed improved dramatically. 

Several of the coaches and board members have expressed the same thing.  Assuming we don't replace the departing coaches and the families leaving with them, with more of the same.   Seem all the drama over the last few yrs always centered around the individual who are gone.   We anticipate a relatively drama free yr coming.  

Challenging - but a whole lot more peaceful

Umm.... why does that 6 ft tall 9 yr old have a goatee...?


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Coyote
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Posted by: @coachdp

Would this be a concern if your team/org/conference still had another 30 kids for every team?

Our league rules require that every kid start on one side of the ball or the other.  If not a starter on Offense, must play Defense or vice versa.  So, when we get to 18-19 kids per team, we add another team.   Most recently this happened at the Sr level a couple yrs ago, when lock downs started to end and parents wanted their kids out of the house. 

We were expecting probable contraction at the Jr level due to smaller numbers coming up from the 7U in this class anyway,  now its been exacerbated.  So we're debating, more teams with 12-13 kids vs fewer teams of 16-17.   Those are estimates, assuming we don't get a bigger than normal surge of 3rd-4th graders who had not played at the 7U last season.

So, any thoughts? 

Umm.... why does that 6 ft tall 9 yr old have a goatee...?


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CoachDP
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Posted by: @coyote Here's the issue...  not that they decided to form another club....  but instead of being up-front with the league about forming a travel team from within the league like men, they chose to sneak around and form their own club with intent of cherry-picking the best talent they could get from within the league. 

I still don't understand.  What is a "travel team?"  Don't they just play other "travel teams?"  If they are not part of your league, why would you play them anyway?

I don't see that it matters whether they are "up-front" or "sneaking around."  If your team/league is a rec team/league and you don't play against travel teams, then what difference does it make what they are doing?

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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gumby_in_co
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Posted by: @coachdp
Posted by: @coyote Here's the issue...  not that they decided to form another club....  but instead of being up-front with the league about forming a travel team from within the league like men, they chose to sneak around and form their own club with intent of cherry-picking the best talent they could get from within the league. 

I still don't understand.  What is a "travel team?"  Don't they just play other "travel teams?"  If they are not part of your league, why would you play them anyway?

I don't see that it matters whether they are "up-front" or "sneaking around."  If your team/league is a rec team/league and you don't play against travel teams, then what difference does it make what they are doing?

--Dave

Around here, they are select teams who are put together to compete in out of state tournaments. For the most part, they stick to themselves, or play in a loosely organized "league" of other tournament teams. Sometimes, they make their way into the rec leagues who have rules that are meant to make it harder to stack teams. Sometimes, a rec team will be good enough that they decide to play in a tournament after the season. The league I coach in isn't supposed to have select teams, but there are a few.

I understand Coyote's frustration. Many coaches in my league are chasing dominance by stacking their team, then chasing off the kids who aren't good enough. I simply decided to stop being frustrated by that and focus on my team. What do you do if a team beats you by 40+ points? If you're me, you try to figure out how to close that gap with the goal of beating them one day.

When in doot . . . glass and oot.


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Coyote
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Posted by: @coachdp

still don't understand.  What is a "travel team?"  

Around here - there are rec leagues and travel teams.   At the end of the season we put together an 'all-star' team that enters tournaments and plays other all-star teams - travel teams.    Some travel teams represent areas and are by invite only that sorta thing.  We're a rec league, we have the talent spread out over multiple teams and even our last round draft picks start and play a whole game on at least one side of the ball.

Our cross over challenge games are with other leagues like ours.  The 2 first place teams play each other the 2 second place teams play each other and on down the line.  But, we're pretty much on par with each other, most the time we pretty well split the games played against those teams.  

Umm.... why does that 6 ft tall 9 yr old have a goatee...?


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Bob Goodman
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Posted by: @coyote

The kids go into a pool and the coaches draft from the pool forming the teams.  we have a combine in which the kids are put in groups the groups rotate among the coaches, coaches pretty do what they want to judge the talent.  The coaches get to see each kid twice.  We have a draft.  Any kid not seen by all the coaches are drawn from a hat after the draft.  We have 3 levels, 7U (Pee Wee);  3rd & 4th grade (Jrs) and 5th & 6th grade (Srs).  

Some coaches had decided to try to work together to stack a Jr team and a Sr team.  When the rules were clarified and re-written to prevent this, the coaches involved decided to form their own club. 

Here's the issue...  not that they decided to form another club....  but instead of being up-front with the league about forming a travel team from within the league like men, they chose to sneak around and form their own club with intent of cherry-picking the best talent they could get from within the league.

I don't understand the issue, nor why they had to "sneak around", unless the complaint is that they took advantage of your combine to do their scouting.  And even then it seems like a petty complaint.  A petty thing to do, but also petty to complain about their doing it.

The Warriors (where I coached 2010-6) operated as you describe (except that where feasible they kept teams together for 2 seasons at a time, drafting only newcomers -- and family of a coach would go with that coach's team), and most of us took our combine (evaluations) as a pro forma affair from which we learned very little about the players.  Most of them were known from previous seasons, and coaches didn't put a lot of effort into the evaluations.  Here at DumCoach I seem to recall similar complaints from draft leagues elsewhere.  So having coaches benefit from your combine after letting on that they'd intended to stay with the organization seems like they "stole" very little of benefit.  If the poaching occurred before the combine, then you don't even have that complaint.

There were some seasons when the Warriors as an organization formed an elite travel team at our oldest age class.  Is the complaint in your league that in forming a travel team they didn't consult the administration?  Some coaches' egos get bruised?


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Bob Goodman
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Posted by: @coyote
Posted by: @coachdp

Would this be a concern if your team/org/conference still had another 30 kids for every team?

Our league rules require that every kid start on one side of the ball or the other.  If not a starter on Offense, must play Defense or vice versa.  So, when we get to 18-19 kids per team, we add another team....

We were expecting probable contraction at the Jr level due to smaller numbers coming up from the 7U in this class anyway,  now its been exacerbated.  So we're debating, more teams with 12-13 kids vs fewer teams of 16-17.

In the Warriors we had the same participation rule, and we were very comfortable with rosters of 16-17, and very uncomfortable with rosters of 13.  They tried to never form a division (class) without enough players to make for at least 14 per team to start the season, though rarely they went with 13 on a team.  There was, however, one season they couldn't get those numbers, started playing 11s with just one on the bench on some teams and wound up 9-a-side.  Sometimes at the draft we'd have a division with 17-18 per team and wind up picking up a few late, getting up to 20 or 21.

Where I've been coaching since 2017 has been a non-draft club in a league with no participation rule, and a few of our opponents would have more players on the bench than on the field.  Our own rosters on the teams I've coached have been the same size I was used to back in the Bronx.  (Well, there was that one NBYSA team that had 23 for the team picture, but only 17 at game time!)


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gumby_in_co
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Posted by: @coyote

Problem is, they are taking a goodly number of kids with them.  

That's the issue and it's not insignificant. It's easy for someone like me to say "good riddance", but it's been awhile since I've been part of an org board. It happened to me twice in youth hockey.

Once, an upstart org over-promised a hockey experience to a bunch of families and we ended up losing 12 players (almost a full team). They sold their org as a "AAA experience", something our org couldn't offer because we were a "B, A and AA" org. The parents of those 12 kids didn't think anything was amiss that their kid would somehow be a "AAA" player, even though they couldn't make the A or AA team at our club. They all came back the following season after paying $5k each (vs $1k at our club) for an experience that wasn't as good.

Another time, we fired a coach mid-season who was a very popular former NHL player. He refused to comply with our locker room safety policies despite several incidents. 10 players followed him to another club and half returned after a season.

In both cases, the drop in numbers hit our club hard financially and from a competitive standpoint. Neither exodus worked out in the long term for either us or the club they left for. Instead, these "youth sports hustlers" made a crap sandwich for everyone involved because their best interests were in conflict with the best interests of the players and their families. 

So I see why Coyote is frustrated. The two "super teams" he's talking about won't work out for anyone.

When in doot . . . glass and oot.


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