The high school sports year begins this week with games, meets and matches all over the place. By the time the fall season ends, the lovely days of late summer will transform to the bleak days of early winter. Bet it snows long before the football and soccer kids are done.
As we begin the year, the hopes of kids, coaches, mommies and daddies are high. For some teams at some schools, this will be a very good, maybe even a championship, season.
Others will have decent seasons and there will be some for whom the year might best be described as character-building.
It’s the character part that is addressed this morning. Not the character of kids, but that of the moms and dads who will be following — and oftentimes suffering — with their progeny.
Starting out from the view that moms and dads are not the most objective when it comes to assessing the skills of their progeny, here are 10 Commandments for the moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas and other caregivers of all the kids who will be running, swimming, tackling, kicking and spiking this fall.
1. Thou shalt always encourage the child. Don’t give her false praise, but support the effort. That way, you reinforce the love that already is there. We all need to be reminded that we are loved.
2. Thou shalt not criticize the coach in front of your child. Unless the coach is doing something illegal or immoral, be quiet. Just about every kid really likes their coach. When you criticize the coach, you create enormous conflicts for your kid as she is torn between her love for you and her love for her coach
3. Thou shalt not criticize other players in front of your child. These kids are likely friends. They support each other. To criticize another again creates enormous conflicts among kids. The kids make up a team. Let them stay a team.
4. Thou shalt not scream at officials from the stands. Sometimes officials make mistakes. They are human, there is no replay, that’s life. Yelling at the top of your lungs from the stands — or following officials into the parking lot to berate them as happened at a couple of Legion games this summer — embarrasses your child and makes you look like a fool, which you probably really aren’t.
I used to yell in the distant past. I was an idiot for doing it.
5. Thou shalt not allow your child to quit a team. That’s called teaching your child the value of commitment. If your kid says she’s quitting, you figuratively grab her by the ear and march her to the coach and have her ask for forgiveness and reinstatement. The coach might not take her back, but you will have done the right thing for your kid.
6. Thou shalt not criticize other schools in front of your child. Some of the greatest teaching takes place at schools that some of us — with noses in the air — look down upon. Do that and you are teaching your child intolerance.
7. Thou shalt not miss her game unless it is absolutely necessary. Then if you do, when you get home you will ask about what happened. That shows your kid you care. You may get typical teenage monosyllabic answers, but the kid is just fooling you; she loves you for asking.
8. Thou shalt not force your child to play a sport, nor force her to play in the off-season, nor force her to play to make you happy. It’s her life. Let her be a kid. Sitting on a beach with her buddies is a not a bad thing.
9. Thou shalt not disgrace your child by not standing in respectful silence during the National Anthem, with your hand over your heart. If you see others acting disrespectfully, say something. If I see it, I will
10. Thou shalt patronize the concession stand, buy a souvenir, and thank the volunteers who work those venues. Also praise the cheerleaders, the band, the flag corps and the dance team. All work just as hard as the team on the field and they, like all of us, like to be praised. If you see your kid’s teacher at a game, thank them for coming. They have lives, too, and for many, it is time away from their family to see your kid play.
Sports should be fun for kids. Oh, I know losses can be devastating and a mistake at a key moment hurts. But kids rebound much more quickly than we do. You can help make their teenage years so much more fun by being there and being supportive. You are proud of them. Make them proud of you.
I know, sometimes you have to bite your tongue. Better to inflict the wound on yourself than hurt others. Hope all your days at the field, court and pool are good ones.
MIDDLETOWN DAY AT WESLEYAN
Wesleyan University will host its first-ever night football game on Saturday, Sept. 21 when the Cardinals host Tufts at 6 p.m. The university is installing portable lights and coach Mike Whalen said the objective is to bring Middletown people on campus to see Wesleyan football and to strengthen ties between the university and the community.
“We want to make it a Middletown Community Day,” said Whalen, who has local roots in that he is a Wesleyan alumnus and lives in the area. “There will be kids’ activities all day at the Freeman Center and we really want local people on campus. We are having a men’s soccer game, a women’s soccer game and a field hockey game during the day. That will culminate with the football game at 6.”
Whalen said that with three alumni of local schools on his team — Devon Carrillo of Middletown High, Kris Luster of Xavier and Alec Corazzini of Coginchaug — the football teams from those schools have been invited to come wearing their jerseys and to cheer for the local players.
“No admission will be charged for the game, we are reaching out to the community so they can get a better feel for Wesleyan.” said Whalen.
Great idea. Let’s fill up Andrus Field — the oldest continuously used football field in America — that night.
LAST CALL, HALLS OF FAME
The deadline for submission of nominees for both the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame and the East Hampton Athletic Hall of Fame is Tuesday. To make a submission of either an individual or a deserving team to Middletown, mail the packet of information — as complete as you can make it — to Middletown Sports Hall of Fame, Box 338, Middletown, CT, 06457.
It can also be hand-delivered to any member of the local Board of Directors or to the Hall of Fame building/American Legion Hall at 58 Bernie O’Rourke Drive adjacent to Palmer Field between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
For East Hampton nominees, check with Tom Seidl at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The journey to December begins this week for all the area’s high school football teams.
The festivities begin Wednesday when Staples visits three-time Class LL champion Xavier at Palmer Field at 6:30. That game will be broadcast by local Internet radio www.wcnxradio.com. Middletown High opens up Thursday hosting East Lyme at 7 p.m. at Rosek-Skubel Stadium at MHS.
Cromwell opens up Thursday at 3:30 p.m. hosting Gilbert/Northwestern Regional, SMSA/University begins Coginchaug’s season the same day at 4:45, Haddam-Killingworth is at North Branford Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and Vinal/Technical/ East Hampton opens up at Palmer Field Friday night at 7.
HERE AND THERE
Kelvin Jones has replaced Bryan Hand as girls volleyball coach at Middletown High … Hand was kicked upstairs to a fulltime administrative position as Math Coordinator at central office from his math teaching job and is not allowed to coach … Rob Weston is the new MHS boys cross-country coach … I have one more Yankee game on my plan … one more chance to see The Great Mariano pitch … couple weeks ago I said the Red Sox would not win the division … uhhh, please allow a retraction … I think the 211 game suspension for A-Rod is excessive.
Watch for Adrianna Ciebielski to have a huge year for the Middletown High girls swim team … girls soccer team at MHS also should be terrific … Xavier football will be better than people think … maybe not championship level, but still pretty good … MHS football team has
a chance to be better than pretty good … Ned Griffin of the Day of New London called the Blue Dragons a Class L championship contender in his preseason outlook … Valley Regional will be very good, but playing in Class M is a big step up.
Put down Wesleyan for six, maybe seven wins … if the Cardinals don’t improve on last year’s 5-3, there will be disappointment on The Hill … UConn losing to Towson State sets up the possibility of a dreadful season for the Huskies … one last amateur baseball reference: look for the state to change the state tournament format so that zone champions play only in double elimination situations … and there is movement to allow re-entry like in high school baseball in Legion ball … but that would have to be a national rule change and the pace of change among those folks is best described as glacial … rumor has it that Palmer Field’s playing surface will get a face-lift prior to the 2014 season … has to be done.