Let’s say you are a coach that has been around for a while. You feel you have earned a certain amount of respect for all the years of coaching and teaching you’ve put in. Well, how would you feel if someone brought in a new coach that had an undefeated season with a previous team and then replaced you as coach with the new coach? You would feel that it was unfair for all the time you had invested and that one winning season is not proof enough that his other coach is better qualified. Personally, I would have to agree.
Now apply that same scenario to the players that you coach. Many kids started playing their sport when they were in third or fourth grade. Then the players advanced to travel teams or AAU teams and play their sport all year round. Now the players enter the high school program and advance from freshman, to JV, and then onto varsity in their junior or senior years. Well, how do you think these upper classmen feel when you (as the coach) put in a freshman or sophomore that has not invested the amount of time and training that the upper classmen have? They would have the same feelings you would have about your replacement coach. They have invested their time and efforts over the years and feel that they should be given a certain amount of respect for their efforts.
You may say that the younger players will help the team will win more games, but whom are they winning the games for...the coach? Winning more games does not honor the years of effort put in by the upper classmen, it honors the coach who will get their name in the Hall of Fame. Who is this game about, the players or the coach?
Sure, you have helped a select group of players get into some colleges but what about all the rest of the players that you have disrespected along the way by showing more bench time than playing time? I know there is a larger group of student athletes that were completely demoralized by the fact they were on the bench more than they were on the playing field or court.
If you modify your coaching style to playing upper classmen, then all the players will understand that when they are brought to the varsity level, the upper classmen will have first chance at playing time and under classmen will wait their turn. This will provide a more consistent system that will help unify the team. Bringing under classmen into the starting line up confuses the players and breeds discord within the team.
I ask you to consider the impact you have on players and parents in their student athletes’ future. All players should be given the opportunity to continue playing their sport in college and the amount of exposure they get in their high school careers effects not only where they might be able to play but how much scholarship money they may receive. The amount of scholarship money ultimately affects the players’ family and their financial needs. A more consistent style of coaching and utilizing the upper classmen will help the individual players in pursuit of their college dreams and provide a more coherent high school team.