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View from the sidelines: There’s a time and season for everything

By DAVID GRAVELY

SWT Sports Editorsports logo

As I grow older, I hope I’m getting a little wiser along the way.  Some may dispute that my plan is working out, while others that have known me for a little longer may say they have seen the change over the years.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that no matter what problem I’m having, no matter what dilemma I’m facing, I can usually find the answer somewhere in the Good Book.  That applies to problems in life and sports alike.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  A time to get, a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;  A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;  A time of love, and a time of hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of you sitting there right now thinking “what in the heck is Dave talking about?”

I heard this passage this past week, and I couldn’t help but think about how much it applies to Pulaski County and our sports programs right now.

We’ve had some rough times in Cougarland lately.  Make no mistakes about it, the wins haven’t been there as much as anyone would like.  That includes players, coaches, fans, and those in charge.

The Cougars have seen some good times over the years.  Even though we haven’t always won it all, there have been some times that we’ve made a run at getting it done.  We’ve won some big games, and at times we’ve lost some big games.

What I see happening right now with our sports is a combination of issues.    I don’t think anyone can dispute a few facts, so we’ll start with those.

To keep it short, I’ll just list the issues as I see them.

-The enrollment numbers are down.

-The loss of jobs in our area forces families to move from Pulaski County at times.  Too many times that means the children of former Cougar standouts now come to Pulaski County wearing a different uniform.

-The VHSL out of season practice rule change is now forcing student-athletes to pick one sport, and sometimes that sport isn’t football.

-For several years, there was a de-emphasis on the importance of sports in our schools, and it came from the top.  It’s going to take a while to recover from that.

-Coaches and administrators sometimes get pressure from parents to put kids where they shouldn’t be.  A freshman should rarely be selected to move directly to varsity for any sport, and not everybody is made to be the quarterback or the running back.

-We’ve spent too long telling our kids how good they are, how they are the next big thing, and in some cases we’ve forgotten to tell them about the importance of the team.

-Loyalty isn’t what it used to be.

There are plenty of things that we could be doing to help build our kids up.  But instead of doing what we can to help build up those athletes so that baseball and basketball could be better, a lot of people would rather spend their time tearing them or their coaches down every chance they get.

Ah, now we’re coming to the point of the verse.

During football season, or basketball season, or baseball season, or any other season for that matter is not the time to say some of the things being said in public today.

Every person who comes out and buys a ticket to see the team play has the right to sit in those stands and think or say anything they want.  Any old Joe at the barber shop, or Bob down at the store, or Fred down the street can (and usually does) have their own opinion of what needs to be done, and most of the time those opinions seem to be about the same based on the win/loss record of the team at that time.  If the team is winning, then everybody seems to think the coach is doing a great job.  When they lose a few, everybody starts talking about how it’s time for new leadership.

But having the right to say it … doesn’t make it right to say it.

During the season, the young men and women who put on the uniforms of the Cougar sports programs deserve nothing less than our full support and respect.  I don’t care if you like or agree with the coaches, they are our kids playing the games.  During the season, support the kids and do what you can to support the teams and programs.  If a coach isn’t getting the job done then without question that can and should be discussed, but it should be done at the right time.  Bashing the kids, the coaches, and the program does nothing for our community but make things worse.

Next Friday night the Pulaski County Cougars will get on a bus and take the trip north on I-81 to Salem Stadium.  When they take the field, they deserve the support of every Pulaski County fan that can make the trip.  It doesn’t matter if you think it was tougher “back in the day” or if the guys in your class played harder.  These Cougars are playing now, and they’re playing for their school.

Let’s get out next Friday and show these young men that COUGAR PRIDE is still alive, and not dead like some think.

Be sure to check back next week for a look at the matchup between the Cougars and the Spartans.

Comments

comments

46 Responses to View from the sidelines: There’s a time and season for everything

  1. The LIGHT

    November 1, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Jones must Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Ray

    November 1, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Dave your point is well taken, I agree there is a time and place. The problem is…its still the excuses.

    A. Less enrollment – PC doesn’t play Div. 6(AAA)anymore, the are a 4 A school. I posted the other day they more participation vs. any school in the former RRD. (400+ players in the last 4 years)

    B. Weak Schedule – This year the schedule has this enrollment: 2(5A-6A), 2(4A), 6(3A-1A)

    C. Off season – Every school deals with this, wrestlers don’t play football at Cburg, Cave lost players to Bball, every school deals with it, Pulaski is not in a vacuum.

    D. Pulaski has chosen to hire/keep the coaches they have – when you pass up or lose out on quality coaches you have no one to blame but yourself.

    E. Pressure to play kids that aren’t ready. See D.
    Plus eliminate single booster organizations. No more TD club, no more 16 booster clubs. One place where all money goes and them is distributed by need. Eliminates any way to donate for a “reason”.

    Just some thoughts, other than that your right, we can have our opinions, just need to use them in the proper context.

    • Jeff

      November 1, 2013 at 7:09 pm

      Ray,
      They are not excuses they are facts. All summer, Dave posted a number of good articles talking about the decade long decline of ALL Pulaski County sports. This problem is not isolated to the football program. We are seeing the same issues in basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball and other sports.
      Let’s talk about you points.
      A) I am not sure where you got your numbers but they just do not add up. I could not find any of these numbers on the VHSL site. Anyway, you stated that Pulaski has 104 players this year. The varsity roster has 50 varsity plays on it. JV has an addition 17, so that is only 77 players. That is a 27-player difference or a 26% error in your data. Salem’s data is a lot closer. You stated 92 players and their varsity roster has 95 (per the Roanoke Times)
      B) I am not sure what you do about the schedule. You have to play the teams in your district. That leaves three teams that are open to schedule to play. One team was Franklin County 6A team. Second was Radford 1A but is a big money draw for both teams. Third is 3A Stanton River. I might give you that one but it also could have been the only team that fit into the schedule. Until VHSL changes something, we are stuck with what we have.
      C) The biggest difference is growth. If you just look at the housing development in the areas that you are talking about not having the same issues. It is just amazing. Just one trip to the neighborhood behind farmhouse and you will see what I mean. These communities have invested heavily in their schools and recreation facilities to attract young middle to high income families. We have not. Therefore, more and more families are moving out of the county into these other areas. This is also shown by another statistic of % of free lunch and/or reduced lunch. We have the highest at 49% followed by Montgomery at 38%, Salem at 32% and Roanoke at 26%. So my point is that these other areas are growing and they have more disposable income to spend on their kids. This means that can afford more camps, AAU teams and etc. In the 80’s and 90’s Pulaski had a huge advantage in facilities and sponsorship. We had by far the best weigh room around. Everyone else has caught up and have surpassed up with recreation centers and places like the Spectrum in Roanoke. This is how for many years they were allowed to practice year around.
      D) What quality coaches are you talking about??? Jack??? Jack got caught doing something illegal. Beside he stepped down as coach. Coach Jones had a very successful program in Essex. At that time, I do not know of a better coach to hire. Of course, the biggest issue is the pay. One of the issues in the football program is loss of assistance coaches. For example, one of the assistant coaches left right before the first game of the season due to the pay. I do not think Coach Jones has had the same staff year after year. It is hard to build a program if you do not have consistency it the coaching staff. The new VHSL rules just do not allow booster programs to supplement the coach’s pay. Unlike the old days when they would get new cars and extra pay. I do not think coach Hicks would coach for what these coaches are being paid today.
      E) I am not sure what you are talking about here. Are you talking about the three sophomores that moved up on defense? If so, you are wrong there. The only pressure was our defense was very weak and something had to change. You have to play your best players. In fact, Hidden Valley started two freshmen on the offensive line last game.
      Having one booster club is not a bad idea but to move to one club now would be very difficult. I do have to disagree with you about “donating for a reason”. The TD club has very few parents helping. They would love to have more parents come and help support them. The major supporters of the club do not have kids on the team and do a fantastic job supporting our players and coaches. I just think you are grasping at straws here.

      • Jeff

        November 2, 2013 at 9:10 am

        Sorry they are 27 players on JV that are not listed on Varsity. Still 50 + 27 = 77 total players not 104.

        • Ray

          November 4, 2013 at 11:32 am

          Jeff,
          Here is the link:

          http://www.vhsl.org/about.participation

          It doesn’t have this years roster information. This information comes directly from each school and is accurate, based on paperwork that must be reported each season by each sport.

          As for the schedule, PC dropped Northside and Magna Vista (that they thought they couldn’t beat), and picked up two programs they thought they could beat in Staunton River and Franklin County.

          Jack and his whole staff, there was a lot of experience and quality on that staff. Not saying he didn’t make mistakes, but look now, he has a staff mixed with youth and experience, some of those coaches wanted to coach at PC and weren’t given a chance. He has turned a perennial losing program into a playoff team, in two years.

          If you think the booster system isn’t influencing who is playing and coaches aren’t getting some “benefits” I’ve got some ocean front land in Montana, I’d like to sell you. Maybe no new Caddy’s like back in the day, but they have more assets than any other program at PC and maybe in SWVA.

          I am just saying there are more positives to PC than negatives. If the job opens they will have more coaches apply for the job than they can count. If ran correctly PC’s program is still a job that is highly coveted and could become highly competitive and elite again.

    • Amazed

      November 6, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      @ Ray
      Your comment about “pass up or lose quality coaches” is ridiculous. The school decides what team gets coaches and they only hire coaches if there is a teaching slot for them. Get your facts straight and you will see that the available slot went to a baseball coach this year.
      What does the TD club have to do with anything? Without the TD club funding football, there would not be any money to support the program. The “donation for a reason” my be eluding to something else that is even more stupid but the reason is to support the program to keep these kids involved in sports. Again, do your homework before you go spouting off stupid remarks.

      • Ray

        November 7, 2013 at 12:50 pm

        Amazed,
        So your saying that if former Professional/College players want to coach at Pulaski and don’t teach that they shouldn’t be hired ?? A qualified coach shouldn’t have to be a teacher to be a coach, the best candidate should get the job period. PC has past on multiple coaches with that background that wanted to coach at PC, not just in football, but in other sports. Some of those people have now joined other local staffs or other schools and are paying dividends.

        The TD club control almost all money that flows into PC football, the cash flow is ridiculous. Basically totally new uniforms every year, new shorts, t-shirts, cleats, among other things, while you have other teams that can barely afford balls for practice and necessary equipment.
        Those programs are struggling to fund raise because the TD club has control of a lot of money, and a when a community has limited funds, you can’t give to every group that has a hand out.
        Look at Salem, one booster club. All of their sports always have nice uniforms, warm-ups, plenty of equipment, and to be honest more across the board success in multiple sports than PC. They even fund more sports than PC, with field hockey and lacrosse.

        • cougarmom

          November 8, 2013 at 8:59 am

          when you comment about TD Club you should know what your talking about. Come to a meeting. Most of the men in the club dont even have kids in sports including football. they just want to help. And the money being so ridiculous…are you the treasurer? Come to bingo some wednesday night and see what goes on. Other sports have the ability to make money to, they just choose not to or people dont want to commit their time to help. And yes they do buy uniforms and new cleats because some of the kids cant afford new cleats, so yeah they help. That club is people who just want to help the kids and then people like you just want to sit back and complain and pretend you know it all.
          Like i said come to a meeting sometimes, join in and you’ll see the truth.

  3. billy

    November 1, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Sure, our numbers are less, but when I played we beat the daylights out of Cave Spring every year, something like 20 years straight when they were triple A size. Now that school has split and there is Hidden Valley, and both are smaller than we are, but we have lost to Cave Spring five times in a row, and Hidden Valley now three times in a row. And we’re not talking about two of the better teams around, you are talking about two very average programs at best. It’s the perfect example of the decline in our football program. We have lost our football program. It’s gone.

  4. clifford

    November 1, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    In season, out of season, it doesn’t matter, and I don’t think you will see much support at Salem either. We just played the final home game and it was the smallest crowd I’ve ever seen for a Cougar home game. Stop begging for something that is not there anymore. The coach is paid with tax money. The people that buy tickets pay the taxes. He hasn’t won, and won’t win again this season. You can talk about pride all you want, but you ain’t goingto find any.

  5. A True Brother!

    November 1, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Wow! I didn’t see these comments coming. Excuses excuses excuses. Oh well. Here we go again. You’re right Dave there is a time and place. Is this the place? Seriously? At least at the barber shop they are talking, in the stands they are yelling. The point is, at all of these places they are seen and not hidden. Every comment is read and approved before it gets on here so if you say there is a time and a place, then why let it be done on here? That’s what I have the hardest time understanding. Unless there are other motives. I hear it on Saturdays if I have to go into work and definitely on Mondays. But these are from people that talk face to face. They wdon’t send an email from a hidden sender or call or text from a blocked number. You have a Facebook page. Why not post your articles and only allow comments to be posted on there? At least there, identities are not kept secret. The thing is, there is a problem with wearing a mask. It has holes in it. Sometimes the holes are just big enough to see the shiftyness of the eyes. I don’t care what is said about Jones and he probably doesn’t either. But, I have stated before, he does have a family like everyone else on here and you don’t think they read this?
    I’m sure most that post on here are parents. Maybe not of someone on the football team but a parent in general. You teach your kids to stand up for what they believe in. Be strong. Don’t let anyone intimidate you. Yet you as the parent get on here and do what? Come up wwith a cute name and bash another adult. An adult that doesn’t have the option to hide or wear a mask. Everyone knows who he is.
    I’m not trying to start any fights with anyone because that proves nothing. Don’t think that. I don’t want to have to walk around with a my head on a swivel. I don’t care what people think, I just don’t like this open forum where anyone can be 10ft tall and breathe fire. Which they may be but no one knows.
    I understand this day and age of how you may not want to put your true identity out there. There are crazy people in this world. But if you have to hide your identity to say things or do things then maybe that is what you mean by the time and place.
    As stated before. I hear about it. People give me their opinions all the time about what is going on. On Saturday mornings or Monday mornings though, when someone comes to be to start on what is wrong, I start out by asking, “Did you go to the game?” If they say no, then I say ok and just walk away. If they say yes then I listen to what they have to say because their opinion is based on what they see and not hear. Then yes, I most likely will rebuttle but its a discussion. Not a fight. You have people on here telling “the truth” or a “fact stater”. Yes they all seem like they may be true, but those too are just opinions that you have gathered. You say Pulaski should be 8-2 or blowing people out based on enrollment. Sounds about right, but every game I go to there is 11 people from each team on the field at one time. Therefore it is your opinion that you are more than willing to have and state. You say quit telling your kid that he isn’t the best. That’s your opinion. My rebuttle to that would be if you don’t tell your kid to strive to be the best then what will they do when facing someone better? I would much rather see my son upset because of losing then expecting it to happen.
    Yes there is a time and place Dave. You state in your article that the barber shop or work isn’t the place? Then why here where you have to leave no info about yourself?

    • the truth

      November 3, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      STOP WHINING.. You come on here talking about, if you do not wish to identify yourself then you should not post anything. REALLY? It is absolutely your right or anyone else’s to “defend” Jones and make excuses for his FAILURE just as it is mine or anyone who wishes to state their feelings about his FAILURE right to do so. This is a public forum period and its not like anyone is on here threatening him or his family and being way out of bounds if so that would be whole different issue if those things were happening. Fact(1) when you decide to be a coach at any level you then are subject to public scrutiny whether it is justified or not. That’s just the way it is in sports now a days. If you can’t handle hearing peoples opinions then do not read them and or discuss them. It is obvious you can’t see the forest for the trees and if you honestly think the program is doing well and is headed in the right direction with Jones then I guess all I can say is WOW. Fact(2) is PC is facing another losing season under Jones and since he has been the coach they have STRUGGLED to even be a .500 team and he has had some of the best kids/talent that PC has had in some time (Long, Rigney, King, McClanahan) just to mention a few yet he has not got the job done. And you are right it has been excuse after excuse from Jones and his followers. You are what your record says you are and since being at PC his is not very good. Fact(3) is they will be 4-6 (another losing season) after playing the weakest schedule PC has played in 20 plus years and they will stagger into the watered down playoff system and be eliminated in the first round. Fact(4) the issues people keep bringing up such as enrollment down, jobs, having to choose a sport are problems other communities and programs face so that is not and should not be a excuse for the direction that program is and will continue to go with Jones. Fact(5) people are taking there kids to other programs and kids are choosing not to play football and that speaks volumes to the disgust people have with Jones. Fact(6) under the new VHSL rules he gets more time to practice and teach/coach than Hicks or Turner did yet again they have struggled to be a .500 team. Fact(7) he spent this whole past off season putting in NUMEROUS applications for other jobs so that tells me he obviously is not committed to the kids or this community and should not expect a commitment from the community or the kids. It also tells me he understands he should have never left Essex, which by the way is doing really well w/out him. We can only hope he finds another job and or the administration wakes up or the program will continue to move in the wrong direction. I could go on and on providing facts and reasons he should no longer be the coach but this will be the last post from me about Jones and his FAILURE. I support the kids/players and have always supported PC but I can not and will not support Jones and the direction he has and will take PC and again that is simply how I feel. GOOD LUCK TO PC IF HE STAYS AND GOOD LUCK TO FUTURE PARENTS OF KIDS THAT WILL PLAY FOR HIM…

  6. billy

    November 2, 2013 at 12:59 am

    Jeff, I don’t think it’s a good idea to make negative remarks about coach Hicks. He was my coach, and we all loved him. We also did not practice all year long. I also played baseball. Coach Hicks is the greatest coach ever in the history of Pulaski County. He came to watch and root for our baseball team too. He won more games than any coach will ever win in our county. We didn’t always have the biggest or fastest players either. To make negative remarks about coach Hicks is stupid, stupid, stupid. You know what coach Turner did that was illegal? He did just what every other coach was doing, somebody just turned him in. It’s funny that all that was changed to legal practice just after coach Turner was penalized. He was jobbed. But that is history, which also means that Hicks and Turner have nothing to do with Jones failure. That’s on him, and nobody else. Jones has all the same opportunities, he even has more since there is now year around allowed practice. And this schedule is the weakest ever. You can write for hours and make excuses, but the cougs are losing, and the fans are giving up, just like the players did last week.

    • concerned

      November 5, 2013 at 10:15 am

      One correction: To say Jones has more opportunities/advantages than Hicks and Turner isn’t entirely accurate.

      Hicks & Turner both had their football players 7 out of 8 semesters in a football only weightlifting/conditioning program staffed by other football coaches. That is an hour & 1/2 in school every day throughout the year – an advantage that other schools at the same time didn’t have. We also had our own version of spring ball every year which other teams didn’t. Now every team is allowed to practice all year long.

      As far as Coach Jones going, maybe it is time but I don’t know who they would get to come in here and be 8-2 year in and year out. Division 4 is not the place to be. The top 6 maybe 8 teams on the other side (4A south) would beat anyone in 4A north. This isn’t the dream job anymore – low salary, low benefits, too high expectations by nonrealistic fan base. 5-5 should be expected and the occasional 8-2 every 4-5 years is what I could hope to expect out of the Cougars no matter who the coach is.

      • Mike

        November 5, 2013 at 8:15 pm

        Jones does have all players in class, not many people are aware of this. Please no more excuses just results. Everyone wanted change and they got it. Turner has turned around Auburn in one year and into a team that has a chance to qualify for the playoffs. According to the Roanoke times Auburn has only been to playoffs twice in school history. Hicks believed in a smash mouth approach , took whatever he had made it stronger and more physical, just as turner did and has done at Auburn. Both Hicks and Turner had advantages and faults, but you knew what you were going to get good or bad. Whatever happens new coach or same coach you better learn to take what you have good or bad and get them stronger , more physical and better tacklers.

        • @Mike

          November 6, 2013 at 9:34 am

          I am not sure where Mike is getting this information that Jones has all of the players in class because I can assure you that my son has had several semesters where Conditioning did not fit in with his school schedule (including semesters during football season). As a parent my main concern is preparing my child for college and his future and if taking certain AP/Dual classes kept him from being able to take the Conditioning class then he didn’t take it. AND furthermore Coach Jones understood the situation and I am certain he was not happy but he understood. With this support my son is/was in the weight room any extra chance he has/had but not during the school day. I was also a Cougar with Hicks and this was not an option, schedules had to be changed even if it meant going from a Honors/AP class down to a regular class to make it fit into the schedule. I am not saying anything negative about either coach, just pointing out that many on here do not have their facts straight.

  7. cougarfootballfan

    November 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    The numbers are dwindling for Cougar football. Players are even leaving the school system to play elsewhere. Jordan Morton, probably the fastest player in recent history from pms, transferred to Blacksburg and is a running back star. Cherokee Widner, probably the strongest player pound for pound, just transferred to Carroll County. Fewer PMS players are coming out for football because they believe the JV head coach Lewis only plays Dublin kids. There are many kids that walk the halls of Pchs that are strong and fast enough to play for the Cougars, but they don’t like the coaching staff. A new staff would help bring a refreshing new start to this program.

    • pchsdad

      November 4, 2013 at 5:34 am

      One of the worst rebuttals I have ever read. Jordan left Pulaski school system because his mom thinks they are better than everyone else, nothing to do with football. And he wasn’t a star. One the other hand, the Grubb brothers moved into our schol system for the athletics. They both will be outstanding players in multiple sports. Jv coach doesnt play favorites, just look at all the PMS players in key roles.

  8. concerned

    November 3, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    I personally feel as though the Pulaski County Rec Dept. needs new staff more than the football program.

    • pchsdad

      November 4, 2013 at 5:44 am

      And please explain to me how the rec department has anything to do with this? Coaches are the parents, and other volunteers, so blame them, or better yet, get off the couch and share some of your ability with the youth of the county. Rec dept is responsible for facilities, uniforms, referees, not the teaching of skills. The thing is kids are into other things these days. Xbox, playstation and other video type entertainment has replaced hide and seek, tag, backyard football and any other active outdoor game we grew up playing. I am not an opponent of video games, but I believe they should be regulated and limited playing time, then make kids go outside and play. It is a shame, but truth is these video games have become a babysitter type devise and is ruining the youth of today.

  9. 10broke

    November 4, 2013 at 11:12 am

    I think the whole problem is because of school policy. I understand there are no longer salted potato chips available in the cafeteria for lunch.Before every game coach Hicks gave us a bag of salted potato chips. That made us feel special, and we played hard because of those potato chips, but now, no chips. This is another of those oboma mama things. Now no chips, the players don’t get after it. It’s not about anybody moving away, the rec dept., parents, boosters, talent, or whatever excuse like enrollment. None of that stuff matters unless you need to find an excuse. It’s about Jones. He has not gotten it done, and there is no evidence that would indicate he will. People are not going to the games, nobody really talks about it much. It was once one of the truly outstanding football programs in this state, and on the east coast for that matter. Now it’s just embarassing, but that will only last a little longer because if it continues, nobody will bother to care anymore.

  10. lol

    November 4, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    You felt “special” because of potato chips? That is hilarious. Obama been blamed for everything else, why not the collapse of Cougar football? lol

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