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LetterToTheEditor — Reno not given fair assessment, reader says

Dear Editor:

I felt sadness reading the rebuttal of Coach Reno’s comments in your newspaper. What saddens me most is that the writer apparently did not directly contact the coach to air his or her grievances. A public outburst at a coach has many casualties – the players, parents, teachers, even the community. And for what outcome other than divisiveness in the locker room or in the bleachers?

We (parents) have become relentless in pushing ourselves into the coach’s sphere of influence in the name of protecting our child’s self-esteem, or defending our child’s skill level and right to playing time.

Although we parents will never agree with every coach’s decision on strategy or which players get to play and when; it will always be the coach who is putting in the hours every day, week, month, to coach her team It is she who sees every practice, skill level, and every moment of grit and hustle, not us the parents. She knows which players work well together on the court; which players practice hard; and, which players handle pressure situations.

Truly, in an ideal situation, any athletic team is stronger with a squad of starters and a bench deep with talent. At the middle school level, most teams have three to five well-rounded players and five to 10 players with potential. But if a coach does not feel confident in her back up players, or believes that her bench lacks certain skills (scoring, rebounding, attitude, passing, aggressiveness), it must be difficult to substitute in a hotly contested game. And in games that are not hotly contested, it seems reasonable to expect that most of the team would participate in the game.

Coach Reno is a patient and nurturing leader to her teams. It is no accident that she is the dean of Knox County middle school coaches with a long history of success, in the win/loss columns, but more importantly in the development of young women’s character and skills. Does she make mistakes? I’ll wager that she would be the first to admit as much. Would she have coached this year’s team differently if someone hadn’t repressed hurt feelings and had respectfully spoken their truth to her months ago? Now we’ll never know.

I was raised in public schools and I didn’t get to choose my coaches, but my parents, in word and deed, taught me that I could choose to make the most out of my sports experiences regardless of my perceptions of good team or bad, good coach or bad. In today’s me-first culture, are we teaching our kids to adapt in an emotionally and socially healthy way? Personally, this sad drama has poignantly reminded me of my parent’s wisdom. I pray that I will have the self-awareness to pass it on to my children.

Paul Fain


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