Veteran coach gives advice to parents of athletes
PEACH VALLEY – In 30 years of coaching basketball, Doug Schakel won 503 games and only lost 285.He racked up those stats starting as a high school coach, then coaching junior college, then at the Division-II and Division-I levels. But when he visited Coal Ridge High School on Wednesday night, he didn’t talk about that.The former Mesa State hoops coach didn’t preach the importance of winning or the strategy of the game, he covered more important topics: like what high school athletes’ realistic chances are of getting scholarships are, what the roles should be of parents of student athletes and why kids play sports.Schakel, who has been speaking on this topic for four years, has appeared all over Colorado and in New Mexico. He focused a lot on the misinformation parents have and spread around to each other about trying to obtain scholarships and how they can get them.”Lots of parents think that getting scholarships is like going into an apple orchard and just picking them off the tree,” he told the crowd.The reality of high school sports, however couldn’t be more opposite. Of all the kids graduating from high school this year in the U.S., about .08 percent of them will receive an athletic scholarship of any kind for college. In fact, there are about 100 times more academic scholarships than athletic ones – many of which go unused because no one knows about them or applies for them.”We drag our kids to practices and games and it’s more like we should be dragging them to the library,” Schakel said.Schakel also discussed the worth, or lack there of, of having parents send kids to exposure tournaments, having them play on select teams and using recruiting companies to try and get their children noticed by colleges.”If your son or daughter is good enough, we’ll find them. I promise,” said Schakel, who spent time as a scout for the University of Utah’s men’s basketball team. “That’s my job. If I am not good enough to find that talent, then I get fired.” Although only about 50 parents, enough to fill one section of the bleachers, were in attendance, the ones who came got a lot out of Schakel’s speech. Susannah and Dean Gonzalez, parents of a freshman at Coal Ridge, said they not only learned a lot, but also enjoyed it.”We came here to hear what he had to say about coaches, what we need to look for and about going to college,” Susannah said. “We are one of those that take our kid to everything and that really helped out a lot to know it doesn’t work.”As a coach, Schakel said he spent a lot of time talking to athletes about what their experiences were like in high school. He said most spoke of the great friendships they made and the value it was to be on a team and be a part of something. When talking about the negative aspects of sports, the athletes said their parents never gave them the opportunity to fail and they hated the ride home with dad after the game. For those things, Schakel had some advice.”The best gift you can give your kid, is to give them the opportunity to fail,” he said, talking to parents who are too involved in their child’s lives and don’t let them fight their own battles.He also said: “Kids want time and space after the game. When they are ready to talk about it, they will come to you.” Also on the topic of what parents of athletes should do, Schakel talked about how there are four roles in sports: a spectator, a player, a referee and a coach. He stressed the importance of a person only being able to be one.”If you are a spectator be a spectator,” he said, referring to parents who yell at coaches and referees. “If you want to be a player, join a rec league. If you want to be a coach, apply for the job and if you want to be a referee, take the training and become one. They always need more referees.”
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