Barb and I did not always see eye to eye. My junior year of basketball I wanted to quit and my father would not allow it. I am thankful he did not. Barb always held me accountable for my behavior both on and off the court; teenagers do not like this. A few years ago I reflected back on influential people in my life. Barb stood out as one of them. She taught me to push harder when I thought I had nothing left to give; she was tough and I respected her. Hard work and discipline were her top priorities. This is the coach I would want my daughter to play for. She made us better people, not just better athletes.
A “contract” is something all athletes must sign to play a particular sport. By signing this contract students are pledging to follow the rules around drugs and alcohol, attendance at parties, performance in school, etc. When it came to honoring our contract Barb led by example. She would have a glass of wine with dinner the night before the season started and then she signed the same contract we did. As a team we knew there would be steep consequences for any violation of our contract and that fear kept our team accountable for each other. Barb didn’t just coach athletes, she instilled character. Her commitment to honorable success was something she took very serious.
I’ll share a brief story about an experience coaching with Barb. Our team was seated number one at Regional’s. We dominated the court Friday night and we knew we were going to state. That night, four of our seniors made some poor decisions and got caught. Barb made the painful decision to bench those four seniors the next 2 games on Saturday. We lost those games and did not go to state. What amazed me was how upset parents, the team, and the community were at Barb. She did not spend countless hours and four years with these ladies for a finale like that. There was great honor in that decision; a decision few coaches would make. Basketball is a game; those girls learned a life lesson and they respect her to this day.
Principal Balcerek, you stated that you chaperoned a recent school dance and there were no intoxicated students and that you “feel you’ve got your hand on the pulse of it”? Here is a direct quote from a respectable member of the community, “My daughters went to Homecoming and came home early because of the number of students that were drunk or high. I asked them if there were any chaperones and they said there were 11 which consisted of faculty and parents.” I will revert to Coach Lyons statement, “You have to want to know”. I hope your focus with these students is on developing our future leaders and not on enabling the current culture in our high school.
Drugs and alcohol are becoming acceptable, funny and a status for popularity. Parties are being frequented by an even younger crowd. The location of a “weekend party” is rarely a secret. I agree the VPD, or better yet the parents, need to start showing their presence at these parties. A little bit of fear, followed by consequences for their actions go a long way. If your kid is caught drinking or doing drugs, think about the opportunity presented to teach them life lessons. Tough love is good parenting.
It is time to get accountable as parents, athletes and a community. Thank you Coach Lyons for your integrity and commitment to our basketball program over the last several decades. But most of all thank you for your commitment to our children.