I would much appreciate anyone’s input here who has experienced what I’m about to describe from a parent, player, or coach perspective, and how you dealt with it. Or if you simply have any thoughts or recommendations from the outside looking in.
2019’s high school team is in the midst of an extended losing streak. By extended, what I really mean is they’ve never really had a winning tradition since the program’s inception, that I’m aware of. They have some fairly decent teams who have made it a round or two into the state tournament but even those seasons were probably around .500 overall. His freshman season there were 10 seniors and this was one of these years I’m talking about. Last season, the team went 3-20 (only winning one game in conference) and this season they are 4-14 (0-8 conference). Quite frankly they’re just not very good and that starts with a fairly severe lack of pitching and culminates with spotty offense and a high probability that routine plays are botched. On top of that, they’re in one of the toughest conferences in the state being the highest enrollment schools (there are eight teams in our conference and three of those teams we play week in and week out are top 10 in the state). The school is an inner city high school and has been largely stripped of baseball talent by the private schools in the area so, in our case, the formula of basing class and conference purely on enrollment numbers doesn’t work well. There may be 10 kids out of ~2500 in the school that can play baseball. There’s virtually no way they can compete with outlying ‘burbs who have 50 show up for tryouts and most of those have played travel ball since they were seven years old.
I say all that not really looking for a solution the bigger problem, because I don’t think that can be fixed in the near-term, but rather how it might be dealt with from a team/player/parent morale, motivation, and attitude perspective. The coaches at this point are trying different methods–roster experimentation, game tryouts, chew their rears out, be lovey/emotional, etc.–none of which have made much difference to date. They have also dealt with multiple roadblocks with facilities and administrative issues since we’ve been there so I think their hands are tied at some level. We have paid full-time head and assistant coaches and one volunteer assistant coach.
They are great guys, know baseball, and are very good for the boys but I definitely think some instruction and development is missing and not necessarily due to lack of want or effort.
The parents for the most part try really hard to be positive. I know I certainly do, but it's wearing after two seasons of failure and it mostly shows in the lack of noise and chatter in the stands. It’s heartbreaking enough to see the looks on the faces of our children and experience a silent, brooding evening at home after a game (which I know probably everyone on this forum has) but when that happens three or four times a week, over 30-40 games, it’s absolutely crushing and we run out of things to say. There are only so many "you'll get 'em next time" and "just keep working on it and it will get better" before those words hold no meaning.
So my question about how to deal with this has two parts really:
- What successful strategies has anyone had experience with from a team perspective?
- More selfishly; my son is a good player and in the process of working towards playing baseball in college. Being part of a losing high school team certainly doesn’t seem like it is making that any easier. As I’m sure it is in most states, the winning teams get more nominations for all-*whatever*, and rightly so, so there aren’t a lot of opportunities on his team to stand out in the bigger picture. Our best offensive producer is out for the season with an injury so my son is hitting in the three hole and probably leading, or right at the top of, several offensive stats so there may be a silver lining there though I'd certainly rather have our other player in the lineup. There also probably aren’t a lot of college coaches coming to our games unless we’re playing someone with potential recruits on their side. Now I know this isn’t where most of the recruiting happens but it is a point of frustration for us. I just encourage him to try to stay positive, focus on his leadership, continue to develop his skills, work hard on academics, and work in the gym, and everything else will take care of itself. I feel it’s all I can really do at this point
Thanks for taking the time to read this novel and I’m looking forward to any comments that might be offered. Thanks!