Recruiting coach's players sensitive issue in all cases

ASK CAL

Youth Sports

November 04, 2007|By CAL RIPKEN JR.

DEAR CAL -- I have coached a girls varsity squash team for the past seven years. Squash is considered a winter sport along with indoor track, swimming and ice hockey. I consider myself good friends with the ice hockey coach at the same school. His daughter has been playing ice hockey for the past two years and is a pretty decent player. This is her junior year, and she has been hearing good things about the squash program. I've encouraged her to try out for the team. I feel like she doesn't want to hurt her dad's feelings by dropping ice hockey to play squash. Her dad is a great coach who has as much passion for ice hockey and the kids as I have for the squash program. It would break his heart if his daughter would quit ice hockey. What should I do?

Joe Lacy, Timonium

DEAR JOE -- What I'm seeing here is that you've encouraged the hockey coach's daughter to play squash and that she has been hearing good things about the squash program. It seems as though you must have had a conversation with her about squash to determine this. If you haven't spoken to her directly other than to encourage her to play, if this is all rumor, then I think you should ask the girl directly if she is interested in playing squash. Your question infers that she has a fear of hurting her father's feelings, but there is no way to know for sure without asking her.

Assuming that she wants to play squash and admits to not wanting to hurt her dad's feelings, my advice would be to talk to her and find out what is appealing to her about squash. If she wants to play for the right reasons - she is intrigued by the sport, thinks you run a good program, likes the idea of competing as an individual, etc. - I would encourage her to discuss her feelings openly with her father. If she is instead motivated by such factors as who is on the team or the time of practice, I would recommend leaving the situation alone and letting the chips fall where they may.

Depending on your relationship with the hockey coach, you might consider speaking to him on the daughter's behalf, but I would be leery of inserting myself into a family situation. You don't want to risk straining that relationship, nor do you want him to think you recruited her away from his team. Part of growing up is pursuing the things in life that make you happy and being able to discuss your personal preferences and decisions with your parents and the other adult figures in your life. Coaches play an important part in the overall development of young athletes, and you can help someone learn a life lesson by facing the situation head-on.

Have a question or issue arising from your involvement in youth sports? Send it by e-mail to askripken@baltimoresun.com.

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