It must be Jerk Week

You know how The Discovery Channel has Shark Week? For the fastpitch softball world this must be Jerk Week. On Sunday I heard yet another story of someone who just doesn’t get it.

A former student of mine, a girl named Kaity, is helping coach the varsity team at a local high school in an economically disadvantaged area. It’s a small pocket of poverty in an otherwise middle class area. Of course, in an area like that, things like travel ball (or possibly even rec ball) are non-existent. None of the girls there can afford the private instruction, high-level play, or even decent equipment in a lot of cases that every other high school in the conference has. Some in abundance.

Kaity told me last week she went to the athletic director at the school and asked for some money to purchase a few Easton Incrediballs the girls could use for indoor practice. She especially wanted them for the girls who have volunteered to learn how to pitch in the next three weeks. Yes, that’s right. A few girls are going to spend three weeks trying to learn to chuck the ball toward the plate so the team can play at the varsity level.

In any case, she said the athletic director’s response was, “Win a game first. Then you can ask for equipment.” What an incredibly insensitive, shortsighted and unrealistic statement. In other words, the statement of a jerk. I’m sorry, but there’s no way this team is going to win a game, particularly in conference. They’d have trouble beating most 12U teams in my area, and that’s no exaggeration. Expecting them to beat even an average HS varsity team is beyond unrealistic. It’s moronic.

The AD should be happy that they are fielding a team at all. In this area, if they can get 12 girls on the team, that’s 12 girls who have something to do besides fall in with a bad crowd, take drugs, get pregnant, or suffer other consequences. I’ve seen them play, and while they’re awful from year to year, the girls who are there always seem to be glad to have the opportunity to play. For many, it’s their first team sport ever. Why would you not want to try to give them at least some chance of improving?

Fortunately, Fred Popp at Grand Slam USA in Spring Grove is a great guy. He heard the story and donated five balls for them to use. (The fact that Kaity used to take lessons from me there when she was in high school certainly helped, but Fred’s just that kind of guy.) He did what the AD should’ve done.

Kaity and the head coach will be doing their best, but it’s an uphill battle to say the least. You’d think your AD would offer support instead of put-downs. But apparently that’s too much to ask.

As I said, it seems like it’s Jerk Week.

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on March 11, 2009, in General Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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