By Alyssa Mintz
“Coach: noun. A person who trains an athlete or team of athletes.” “Coach: verb. To give instruction or advice…”
A coach to most here at Analy is someone whom athletes trust. He or she is someone who pushes an athlete because a coach knows what the athlete is most capable of.
Recently, the Maria Carillo High School girls varsity basketball coach, Steve Azevedo has faced accusations of verbally abusing his players and “and violating the California Interscholastic Federation code of conduct on role models and personal conduct.” According to the Press Democrat, there were a total of ten complaints filed against this longtime community coach by athletes and parents. He has since resigned from his position during a school district investigation.
After reading the series of online articles about this local sport scandal and being a girls basketball player myself, I contemplated the idea of what a coach’s job really is.
As a coach, what is the fine line between pushing one’s team to work, and pushing them too much? Is it morally okay with any coach to critique their athletes and in a hurtful way as a way to improve their mentality or strength? Is it difficult for a coach to remember the affect their words have on their players?
“I don’t believe that at any point should you degrade an athlete.” Earl Passamonte, the Analy Tigers girls varsity coach mentioned. “I don’t go with the intention of hurting a person’s feelings but I can’t control how they perceive my actions as a coach. I say what I need to say as long as it’s not degrading to the athlete. If it’s not, then I don’t think it’s a problem.”
In response to my first question about the fine line of pushing to work and pushing too much, varsity boys baseball coach, Jeff Ogston responded, “Being a coach, it’s your job to learn the players. Not all players are the same so you have to know the individual. Part of coaching is defining that line.” Coach Ogston is also the junior varsity girls basketball coach and added that it is “never the intention of a coach to upset your players…its just going to happen.”
I have played and am playing for both of these basketball coaches and value what they have to say while understanding it may not always be what I want to hear. From personal experience, a coach’s job is to give an athlete guidance and by doing so, the coach ultimately improves the athlete and encourages him or her to perform 110%. Analy employs approximately 60 coaches each year for all of its sports, while California law requires each of these coaches to participate in a coaching education program. One aspect of this program is communication and motivation techniques.
“Motivational techniques that coaches use are obviously going to vary from coach to coach. Some are passionate about the way they may teach. There’s never room for abuse in the education setting.” Athletic director Joe Ellwood stated.
So what’s the problem with former Carillo coach- Steve Azevedo? He was reported of using profanity and verbally harassing his athletes. A Carillo varsity girls basketball player commented, “A coach is a coach and he’s going to yell because it’s in your best interest. Steve wasn’t a mean coach, he yelled because he knew you could do better.”
My questions don’t just stop with basketball though, Nancy Williams the former Analy volleyball and current badminton coach added, “It’s not morally okay [to hurt a player’s feelings], but it’s important as coaches that we push the limits of their mental toughness in a safe environment. It’s better to test mental strength in the gym rather than later in life.” She also defines the fine line “by the looks on their faces. As athletes, they know they will be challenged. If you say things that strike as personal, their facial expression will tell you if you have gone too far.”
After talking with many coaches, most seem to agree that remembering athlete sensitivity is a challenge, even varsity boys and girls tennis coach, Rick Passero referrers to his athletes as sponges- as they absorb everything a coach tells them. However, coaches also agree that it is their job to know their players and understand their athletes’ capabilities.
It seems that a coach can be defined as an athletic trainer, but can also be defined as a role model for hundreds of athletes whom rely on a coach’s advice. Their words will go a long way.