Reactions prove it, Pulaski County ready for change

By David Gravely

SWT Sports Writer

The story ran on Sunday, and the reactions started coming in immediately.   To say that people are talking would be an understatement.


I expected a certain portion of our community to be angered by the article in Sundays edition of The Southwest Times that showed just how poorly our sports teams have done over the past few years, and in a way I was hoping for it.  We SHOULD be angry.

I fully expected those who agree with me that we need to make changes would let me know about it.  It’s easy to tell somebody you agree with them.

I also fully expected those that disagree with me to sit around in little corners around the county and tell each other those same things that have gotten us where we are today.   While no one has come to me in person with these comments yet, here are the main ones I’ve been told about so far.

“Well you know it’s all the coach’s fault.  But here we go with them getting a free pass again.”

That statement is incorrect.  If we set the standard for the coaches, and they fail to meet the standards in the time set, then yes it would be time to look at making changes.  But you have to give that coach the time to put his or her program into effect, and you have to give them the freedom to instill discipline and teamwork in their players.  I’ve yet to hear from a single real coach that disagrees with this.

“Well if the coach had control of the kids and did his job, we wouldn’t have to worry about discipline issues on the team.”

The coaches can’t claim control of the kids when there are some parents undermining their every effort.  There have been times when I’m pretty sure that the coaches would rather have played in front of an empty set of stands or an empty gym as opposed to the cat-calling groups of negative fans that seem to pop up now.  The backstabbing doesn’t stop at the games though, as some parents will wait till they get home to tell their athlete just how incompetent they feel the coach is.  Every negative comments erodes that players loyalty to the team and coach just a little further.

“They’re just blaming it on the kids because that’s the easiest thing to do.”

Guess what sports fans, I’m not the one that said it was the kids.  As a matter of fact, it was some of those young athletes that pointed out that their teammates are a big part of the problem.  The first three messages that I got when the story came out, as a matter of fact, were from PCHS athletes that wanted to thank me for saying what needed to be said.  They are tied of losing, and they want to get their pride back.  It doesn’t take long to look at and see that the reaction there is the same.

We DO have some kids that feel like they are entitled.  We DO have some kids that need to know that if they don’t work hard, they will fail.  We DO have some kids out there that break down team chemistry with their bad attitudes.

What we also have, however, are some good kids who are willing to work hard.  We have plenty of kids that are willing to play their part as a member of the team.

If we’re going to be successful, it’s going to take everyone doing their part.  We need the right coach, who can motivate the players to perform at their best and leave the egos at the door.  We need the right athletes, who are willing to work hard and be “coachable”, and commit to reaching the teams goals.

We need the right administration that will help those coaches and players be successful.  I have full confidence that PCHS Principal Mike Myers and the current members of the Pulaski County School Board will make the decisions that need to be made.

We need Anthony Akers and the Pulaski County Recreation Department to be able to help make a change in our athletes mentality from the bottom levels up.  We can have leagues that are for fun and participation, but we also need leagues that are for true competition.  Those teams need to play tough opponents, and they should only get a trophy if they WIN.

Our middle schools need to be more competitive in more sports.  It’s almost June and a new Pulaski Middle School football coach hasn’t even been hired yet.  In fact, I don’t even know if that position has been listed yet.  That’s not fair to the Orioles.  They deserve a chance to win.

My biggest concern is the parents.  The only negative comments I’ve been sent so far have been from coaches and parents of athletes and teams that I DIDN’T mention in my last article.  With all of the things we had to focus on, I couldn’t believe that NOT being mentioned was the one thing people wanted to write about.  That’s just a little bit concerning.  I would also suggest that it could be a big part of the problem.  Maybe instead of worrying about “me” we need to start worrying a little more about “we”.

Just to clear that up though, I didn’t mention track and field, wrestling, swimming, competition cheer, or the gymnastics team that has long been gone from PCHS.  I didn’t mention those because while they have won some titles as a team, most of the time their accomplishments have been recorded as individual wins and losses.  I would love to see that change, but right now those numbers haven’t been found.  I focused on the main “team” records, and it wasn’t done to slight or belittle anyone.

Since taking the reigns as the sports editor, I have done as much as humanly possible to get exposure for all of our teams.  Since January 1, we have ran stories on five different schools in our area, ten if you count Radford University, Virginia Tech, UVA, Bluefield, and Emory and Henry.  We have ran stories on six former Cougars, six college commitment signings, four Special Olympic events, and local hunting and fishing.  We’ve covered girls and boys sports, with at least two stories for every team at our high school.  Normally we cover more games and matches, but with so many teams in action at once it can be hard to get to every game every time.

Since January 1 we have published three Cougar indoor track stories and three Lady Cougar indoor track stories.  We have already published four spring Cougar track and four spring Lady Cougar track stories, as well as some senior profile stories on those athletes.  We’ve attempted more, but if we can’t get the information it makes it hard to write the stories.

Last weeks article was just the start.  There are plenty of questions we need to be asking, and it’s time to start asking them.  Clearly, a vast majority of people in Pulaski County want to see our kids find success.  They want that success on the athletic fields and in the classroom.  Right now we’re just not getting the job done on the field and in the gyms, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get there.

Pulaski County needs to get back to winning, and arguing about who wasn’t mentioned isn’t the right first step in that direction.  I welcome all comments at  Let’s push the people in charge to start moving us in the right direction.  Let’s get the PRIDE back in COUGAR PRIDE.



3 Responses to Reactions prove it, Pulaski County ready for change

  1. PC4U

    May 13, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Again great job. A few points from someone involed on both sides of the issue. PC rec sports are just that. Many kids that play rec will never play in HS. That’s the way it should be. Varsity Coaches need all year development in their sports for the kids that desire that starting around 8th grade. One month of practice before the season does not cut it. How many School Board members have I seen at a game this year? Zero. I encourage them to be there but to interact. AAU, Travel Ball is the step up from Rec and we have many in the county that donate time and $ to help, that go unnoticed. I have seen them more than school board members or admin. What is the difference in PC programs and those of Hidden Valley or Salem? It may point out improvements that are needed.

  2. Peppy

    May 13, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Our superintendent isn’t even a resident of our county, why should he care at all funding any of the changes needed.

  3. PC parent and grad

    May 16, 2013 at 11:29 am

    I agree with a lot of what you have written. But as a sports fan, a parent of athletes and graduate and athlete of PCHS there needs to be some changes. OR like so many I have heard say, “We just need to move to Roanoke” or “We need to move to where they win”. Something our family has discussed. What I am writing has taken me a while to decide to write. My children have played and been starters on teams even though I personally like a lot of the coaches but ask are they the right ones? Are the kids playing the right ones? Are the practices beneficial? This all boils down to being competitive and having the drive and tools to do it in place. My main focus is football and baseball.

    As far as rec. sports are concerned I DO believe it starts here. If we don’t have the right VOLUNTEER coaches involved than the kids that might stick with it and are great don’t understand and fall in love with the sport. If those coaches don’t teach our kids the correct and fundamental aspects to be an athelte than they shouldn’t be coaching. So far I have watched my oldest come through the “system” for football and he was taught correctly in rec league. But we also need the directors to support the coaches that volunteer their time away from their family. When they come to them about having an ALL Star football team that can compete in a Superbowl the same level as All-stars in Baseball. Instead of getting shut down and told we can’t do that. Why not?? We have winning teams in rec. league football, teams that are beating Christiansburg, Blacksburg and Radford. The same kids won in rec. league but aren’t winning now. You tell me what is the reason? Tell the kids this, the same kids that are/were used to winning but are facing some of the same kids and are getting slaugtered.

    It failed at PMS due to lack of coaches knowledge to coach. Not his knowledge of football. As per your article, if its supposed to start with the middle schools than practices should make you better. But its not. Because the right coach was not hired. Point blank.

    Then when they get to High School and JV practices consists of holding the bags for Varsity. They don’t really practice. They don’t hit. They don’t run. Then they get yelled at in games for not knowing a play but how would they if they weren’t taught this during practices. You might ask me how do I know this? Well I have watched practices to see if my child was relaying this information correctly. If you don’t practice the way you are going to play games than how do you expect to compete when you do actually play? Could be a reason why during games there are so many injuries? The kids bodies are not being pushed to withstand hits. This makes you better! This gets that “W” instead of a “L”. In turn makes kids feel better about themselves, their team & their school. Cougar Pride!

    Now lets go to baseball, once again won in rec. leauges, very competitive in Travel ball, Middle school baseball isn’t a supported school sport and not sure why it isn’t, and once again JV failed at practices and winning. Could it be again the fact the practices consists of being base runners for Varsity and not truly practicing to get better? Not having the correct coaches to pull out the best in each kid. Varsity not winning isn’t just the fact the practices are hard enough but sometimes they don’t even practice. When weather doesn’t corporate they go inside to bat and do pitching. There are things that can be done inside to improve the kids instead of an hour of batting practice.

    Don’t get me wrong I do think it is a combination of kids not caring, coaches not pushing and parents being stupid. If a parent wanted to coach than go to school and do it. But as a someone that has coached several sports, watched family coach and been involved with each kids experience with sports, we need to get harder on the kids if they want to play. Rec. league you have to play everyone its a rule. Does that mean in the older leagues that keep score mean you all get a trophy for a losing record? I say no. You earn a trophy by winning. Which means in order to win you have to have the combination of coaches, kids and parents that didn’t voluneeter to coach stay out of it. If you don’t agree with how your child is being coached then get off the couch and coach. Volunteer! You can always go to the rec.director and express your concerns.

    PMS doesn’t have a football coach. These kids deserve more. But so does this county. Instead of a wellness center how about combining the middle schools that are falling down. How about the school board go take an Exam or SOL test inside these middle schools when its 100 degrees! If the schools were combined it would benefit our kids in acedemics and sports. As I see it sports at either middle school is a joke. Are they competitive enough to feed into the High school, NO. But on this level, there is no rule stating you have to play all kids. So don’t keep that many!!!! what’s the point. If the kid is never going to play why keep them on the team??

    High School starts at the top. If the results aren’t there then something needs to happen to get back to winning. How many kids sit on the bench at a basketball game and never go in? how many sit in the dugout and never go in? how many are on the sideline lines and never go in? As a coach, once again why keep so many kids on a team if they don’t play? Are they there just for practice? that they don’t have or benefit from? OR why move a child up from JV to Varsity and then sit the bench? How does this benefit the team and child? Usually when a child is moved “UP” this means he/she is better than someone else on the team and they are needed. Not to go from starting each game in JV to sitting the bench in Varsity. How does that make a child feel? Not good. JV and Varsity need to play their best players. Not their buddies kids or the parents kids’ that they are scared of upseting. If you want to win. Take a lesson from college and professional sports. THE BEST PLAYERS PLAY! If you want to win that is. if not then keep going the directions its going. And more people will start moving to towns/citites that are winning.

    Last point….If a child tells a coach he isn’t going to do this or that than DON’T play that child, POINT BLANK, no matter if she/he are the best on the team. Cause 90% of the time that child is testing the coach, and if that child gets away with it than the rest of the team follows suite. Cause if that child is one of the best than they are a leader. The coach has lost respect and control of the team. Parents can have their own opinions but let the coaches do their job. If you have an issue go to the Athletic Director.

    I want to see PC get back to winning but us talking about it and it getting done are two very different things.

    GO Pulaski Cougars!!!!

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