by: Neal Kasamoto
Middle school coaches are ALL volunteers in Hawaii, many like myself don’t even work for the school. Extramural is ultra low-budget, some middle schools do not even field teams in some sports like volleyball, basketball, soccer and cross-country.
Years back, I had the pleasure of meeting a family from South Korea in my first year as an AYSO soccer coach. The father was here on sabbatical, he brought his family to Hawaii for a year. His son had exceptional soccer skills for a 9-year old.
The father told me that kids in the USA were very “fortunate” to have so many sports programs available to them. He said that the only opportunities for sports were from the schools and that the schools took only the very best elite players all pre-selected and trained at a very young age. He also said that his son had no chance to play soccer for his elementary school, too small and not fast enough.
“Aren’t there any leagues for the kids to play in?” – I asked.
“No, it is because no one is willing to coach or run a league as a volunteer, not like in the USA.” – he said shaking his head. “The kids in the USA have so many opportunities in sports compared to the kids in Korea, I see why the USA does so well in the Olympics.”
Wow! No Little League baseball, AYSO soccer, pee-wee football and other volunteer-based sports leagues? Can you imagine that?
In middle school we are currently halfway through a season of extramural play. I was informed recently by note that a starter could no longer participate due to a need to concentrate on school work. Hey, that’s fine, they are student-athletes, emphasis on student, school first.
However, what the note said and didn’t say really bothered me. The note made a point to say that the student was now going to concentrate their future efforts on school work AND club ball. Also, there was no mention of thanks to the school, the director of sports or any of the coaches for providing an opportunity to play in the extramural league!
Maybe I’m reading too much in between the lines. But why even mention club play? Is the school team experience somehow lesser because it is not club play? Most of the other starters are “club” players, is the school team not worth that player’s time in the parent’s opinion?
Please don’t take extramural sports and coaches for granted: just look at the non-elite kids in Korea who do not have opportunties. Some of them are highly skilled but have nowhere to play!
Be greatful that your child does have an opportunity to play for the school with coaching.
Be greatful that there are volunteers that coach your kids. Some schools do not field teams since they have no volunteer coaches. Many schools that used to field volleyball teams no longer do due to lack of volunteer coaches. These schools used to have strong teams too!
Bottom line: Parents and kids need to appreciate how good we have it in the USA when it comes to youth sports programs.