Lack of loyalty a big problem in the sports world

view from the sidelines mugBy DAVID GRAVELY, SWT Sports Writer

For some reason, the grass often time seems greener on the other side of the fence.  In some cases, people think it’s greener on the other side of the bridge.

Pulaski County has a problem that affects many localities, and while it started out with just a few students involved here and there, it has grown over the years.

Just to be up front, I know there will be some who are offended by this article, but I sincerely want to open the subject up for discussion, and I think it’s important to Pulaski County athletically as our programs work to build back up.  Also, just to be clear, when I talk about transfers here I am not talking about a student who’s family makes a physical move from our area into another area.

I have a pretty strong opinion about transfers, but also realize that like anything else there are exceptions.

I was told recently by a school official that there are currently over 240 students grade K-12 who live within the boundaries of Pulaski County that are enrolled in schools outside of Pulaski County, most of them in Radford City or Montgomery County schools.

That’s 240 plus students who should be listed in the rolls of schools that feed Pulaski County High School.  Now while not all of those students would be athletes, that’s also 240 plus students who, if enrolled in Pulaski County Schools, would be counted towards state and federal money received for education.  More students equals more money.

I’m going to use Pulaski and Radford as an example because to be honest it’s the one that this most applies to.

I personally know of several students who live within the boundaries of Pulaski County that attend Radford schools.  I’m sure that somewhere along the line, there have been a few that lived in Radford that went to Pulaski County schools.

For some, it’s a matter of convenience.  They live in a part of Fairlawn where they can physically see Radford High School from their front doors.  Rather than have their kids ride the bus all the way to Dublin MIddle School or the high school, they send them two minutes away to Radford.  I get it, it’s close.  I don’t like it, but it’s understandable.

Sometimes the parents work in Radford or for the Radford schools.  The ability to bring the student to school with you when you comes to work would be a convenient thing as well.  You’re there if your student has a problem during the day, and you can spend some time with them on the way back and forth.  Again, I don’t like it, but it’s understandable.

Some parents send their students to another school thinking that they will gain an academic advantage.  Some send their students to another school because they feel like they need a “fresh start”.

All of these parents have the right to do as they wish with their students, but what kind of message do we send when we in effect “give up” on Pulaski County.

I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I think parents, specifically parents of athletes, can and do cause a lot of problems for athletes.

Many student/athletes have told me over the years that there are times when they wish that the people in the stands would just stop comparing them to teams from the past and let them be the best they can be NOW.  Too many parents and fans are stuck on having everything just like it was “back when we played” and say that if it’s not then it’s not fun.

You know what I think is fun?  Winning.  Winning is fun.

Do we just throw away our history?  Absolutely not, but if we spend a decade telling our kids that when they take the field as Cougars that they won’t be as tough as when we played, then they won’t.

The reason great coaches of the past have been great is because they were allowed to work their athletes hard and do the job the way they saw fit.  Why not just let the guy or gal who was hired as the head coach do his or her job?  If they do it well, then everything will be fine.  If they don’t, after a reasonable amount of time, then they’ll be replaced and the next coach will get that chance.

“Daddy ball” has cost us countless games, coaches, and athletes over the years.  “Daddy” coached rec league for a few years, so he knows what’s best for the middle school or high school team now.  If the coach would just ask him, he could help save the day.  After all, if they would just put HIS kid in, we would certainly go to State.  “Mommy and Daddy” need to get out of the locker rooms and off the sidelines.

In some of these cases, “Daddy” or “Mommy” are the reason the student transfers.  They tell their student that they’ll have a better chance of playing somewhere else, or that they’ll have a better chance of winning a championship somewhere else.  I’ve even seen cases where a family will have one student go to one school and one student go to another.

The question is pretty simple:  Instead of leaving for what looks like greener pastures, why not work to make Pulaski County a better place?

The answer is because it’s usually easier to simply move on to the next thing than it is to be LOYAL to your hometown and your school.

It’s my opinion that if you live in Pulaski County, attend school at and play sports for Pulaski County.  If you live somewhere else, remove Pulaski County in the previous sentence and insert your school’s name.

We need loyalty to Pulaski County by parents and students.  Not just wearing a shirt on game day or cheering when a team takes the field or court, but doing things to make Pulaski better.  We need parents who understand that while losing a game once and a while is not the end of the world, it’s much better to win.  We need parents that understand that to get those wins, it takes hard work and dedication, not just yelling at the coach or bashing him on an internet message board.  We need less finger pointers and more hard workers.

Speaking of finger pointing, I’ll also point the inquiring finger back at those who are in charge here:  the coaches and administrators.

For the coaches the task is simple, win.  Please take note of the fact that I typed that with my tongue in my cheek and a grin on my face.

Winning at Pulaski County is not an easy thing.  You start the season off with a target on your back every year.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been good for the past few years or not.  People don’t care how they beat Pulaski County, they just want to be able to say they beat Pulaski County.

As for the administrators, It’s up to them to make Pulaski County the kind of home and school system that people don’t WANT to leave.  I think it’s pretty clear that there are some changes coming, and when you step back and look at them realistically there are plenty of good things on the horizon.  I don’t know what the right answer is for the middle school situation, but it is good to see that we are at least addressing it now instead of trying to put it off.  We need the school administration to be loyal enough to our schools, students, and county that they make the best decisions possible.  I think the current administration is working to do that now.

The administration is also responsible to hire the best and most qualified coaches to lead our student/athletes, and to provide them with the best possible conditions to be successful.  We can’t ask our coaches to win if we don’t give them to tools to do so.  That includes assistant coaches that are qualified to coach their particular sport, and giving the head coach the freedom to put their system into place and then either succeed or fail with it.  If they succeed, then reward them.  If they fail, then takes steps to fix it.

So I’ve pointed out the players, the parents, the coaches, and the administration.  In closing, I’ll point the finger back at myself.

The Southwest Times has, at times, been accused of being biased towards Pulaski County.  At this point, I’m sure some of you are sitting there with one raised eyebrow thinking, “Huh?  Really?”

With very few exceptions, our sports section will continue to focus on what’s best for Pulaski County.  At times there will be stories from Virginia Tech, UVA, or Radford University.  We’ve also started to get more coverage of our New River Community College teams.  There may even be times when we run stories on national stories like the Superbowl, the Daytona 500, or the World Series.  Don’t be surprised, however, if you pick up a copy of our paper after Superbowl Sunday and instead of reading about Peyton Manning or the Seahawks you read about one of our middle school teams or a rec league game.

In other words, we will continue to promote those things that promote Pulaski County.  If it’s not about Pulaski County teams, Pulaski County athletes, or Pulaski County events that are loyal to Pulaski County and making it better, there will be a good chance that it won’t run in our print edition.

I’ve seen the logo that Anthony Akers has been using for some of the things he does in the school system and rec system that proclaims “Pulaski County Proud!”  The bottom line of that graphic says “Our heritage.  Our hope.  Our home.”

Amen brother.  Amen.




41 Responses to Lack of loyalty a big problem in the sports world

  1. PC Proud.

    February 26, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    One thing that will help the sports teams in county would be combining the middle schools, put the middle schoolers in the old high school, and build a new high school. Another would be forming more AAU teams (basketball,baseball, soccer). What does those two things have in common?, Chemistry (no, not the subject). Just think about it. You’d have the same classmates and teammates for 7 seasons/school years. Team Chemistry is probably the most underrated aspect in team sports. For example, (and I know this rec, not school sports) growing up playing rec sports, you know who was always the dominant team in every sport, Snowville. The teammates basically played with each other in every sport every season, and snowville having a low population, rarely had two or more teams in a league, causing them not to have a town-wide draft like Dublin or Pulaski. They had a knack for each other and pretty muched just gelled and won a majority of their games. That’s the same situation with Radford. The message is the longer they play together, the better they will be.

    • Christopher Hardin

      February 27, 2014 at 10:28 am

      I also have to agree with PC proud and i think that we do need to try and focus on our rec league and putting in a system where our kids start playing together at a younger age. all i kno is that when i played rec football i started at age 9 for the RedRaiders and our front line played together from age 9 all the way up thru highschool and my senior year in 2001 we went all the way to state and a big reason for that is because we knowed our strengths and our weaknessess as a unit and we adjusted to make our team better, we also could trust one another to kno that as long as u done ur job that the man next to u was goin to do his. Confidence in ur team will go a long way, talent is always great but team work will always win more games!! And as one great man used to say “Defense Wins Ball Games” Coach Joel Hicks!

    • pchsdad

      March 4, 2014 at 7:40 pm

      Pc proud,

      Interesting post. My only concern, in regards to athletics, in a single middle school scenario is the fact there will be only one team per sport. This means fewer kids developed, etc. I know right now, it takes both feeder schools to fill a roster of one sport at pchs. In middle school kids play multiple sports, the narrow this once they reach the high school level. I could forsee some sports being eliminated entirely due to lack of participants. I always liked had twice as many kids getting the opportunity to develop in middle school. The aau/ junior olympic teams combine both schools on the teams, so in this fact, they do get opportunity to play together as a whole team. In regards to football, perhaps some 7 on 7 summer leagues at the middle school level would fill this void you see in team chemistry.

  2. Christopher Hardin

    February 27, 2014 at 10:14 am

    I have to agree that the job market is hurting our population a a whole and i also have to say tat i think its sad that all these people are focusing on the negative.. As a former football player and a grad i believe we do need some changes but im tired of watching people talk about new coaching, everytime we hav some down years everyone wants to fire the coachs and get new ones, lets build our program back and show the students that our program has a foundation.. I also believe that some students are overlooked for students that has familys donating money to the program.. theres sme people thats writing comments on true emotion and instead of trying to help the situation they r making it worse, lets all act like adults.. thats one of the reasons i dont read this page often and comment. To be a great community we have to stop being at eachothers throats and build a community!! When im asked where im from I take great pride in saying that im from Pulaski Co and if anyone bash’s my hometown then im ready to fight for our great name and tradition!!!

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