January 15, 2011

48 minutes of basketball, less than one minute of play

ENOUGH ALREADY...why do they not get it? Am I not clear enough?  What are they missing?

The following email went to the school principal, athletic director, basketball coach, case manager, school counselor, head of special education for our district and the husband

Once again I find myself leaving a high school basketball game in tears after watching yet again, unsportsmanship behavior and dishonest actions on the part of two women who are entrusted to teach our students sportsmanship and honesty. Frankly I find this unconscionable, it is not who you are, but it is how you are representing yourself to our community..

Alex was asked to participate in practice and told if she did not have any red practices she would play in the games. She went to practice everyday - even on the day when she was treated very poorly by a boy on the basketball team.I was proud she could pull herself together after such a terrible, terrible prank was pulled on her.

Last night the team played RF, a team whose coach had coached her girls to let Alex shoot when she has the ball. Alex's teammates are not coached to pass the ball to Alex, let alone work with her on the basketball court. It's hard when her play time is less than 30 seconds

We missed a great opportunity last night to not only make Alex and our school proud, but also to let our opponents feel good about what they had done. We missed the lesson of what playing on a team is about, and celebrating each others achievements. To me that is what our school is all about, creating citizens who will go out to the world as contributing inclusive members of our community, not ones whose only lesson in high school sports was to win at any cost.

Today,once again, Alex played less than thirty seconds and I brought home a crying girl whose knee hurt. We all know this is a "lack of play" injury, and one of the few ways Alex can feel in control of herself when she is purposely excluded from playing, elbowed out of huddles and ignored by her teammates. Is this really the message you want JV players to learn? Playing Alex will not make or break a game - she may be a weaker link, but based on the games I have seen in the last few weeks, there is room for improvement all around. Alex will never improve if you continue to coach (or not coach) her the way she is being coached.

Last night and today I was embarrassed to be the parent of a B High School student. We showed our opponents that yes we are very open and inclusive because we have an athlete with down syndrome on our team, but no we are not open enough to let her proudly play and represent her high school as a confident member of her team.

We have the chance to portray ourselves as so much more than a school. We can be a school that makes a difference and embraces everyone for the gilts they have. In an age of continually cutting resources we can use extracurriculars to round out our programs. Sports participation is a life defining activity for a teenage girl, I know - I played 4 Varsity High school sports and two in college. It gave me confidence, self esteem and strength. I learned to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses everyone brought to the team, I do not see any evidence of this at all on the B High School Junior Varsity basketball team,

You are in the position to make a huge impression on our young girls, do it! Do not take this responsibility lightly. Use your influence to create strong and aware young women, Your role can not be underestimated.

I hope we can figure out how to build up Alex's self esteem again, if not we have failed her and the IEP goals our school district has committed to honoring. Alex has already showed lapses in some of her subject matter goals and if her social and speech goals also regress you have failed a child. This can be a huge problem for all of us.

We have had discussions and more discussions. I believe you made promises you have not kept. I would like your actions to speak not your words. As this is at least the third time I have written you this year, as well as at least three conversations, added to countless times last year, with no obvious changes in coaching, I would appreciate a thoughtful and inclusive response around your planned actions by 4 PM Wednesday from L and R.

As a reminder, your track record on responses has been spotty, to me it shows a lack of realization that this is important. It is the MOST important thing you can ever do for a student with gifts that can touch so many. Please honor her.

This will be the last e-mail I will send to this group, as I believe in respecting your ability to change. However, at this point I feel like I am butting my head against a wall. I will do whatever it takes to make Alex feel included,important and contributing, just as all parents do for their children .

Thank you for your commitment to Alex. Gary

As I said no more e-mails, no more Mrs Nice Girl. I happen to have the law on my side and a whole slew of tests documenting Alex's regression. I really don't want to go there - but going there is much easier than compromising my daughter's future.

War paint is on!


  1. I'm so sorry. That is so frustrating!!! I know you are doing your best...surely, they'll honor their committments!!! If not, wreck em, Mama Bear!!!

  2. Humph. Right now my husband is kayli's coach for girls rec dept b-ball. I do worry a bit about how kayli will fare once she is at the school level but I'm hoping that enough teachers and parents in our community will know of her and how we've done things thru the years that by then we will be able to all work together- sigh. Hope being the operative word.
    PS- got the books :) :) :) gorgeous!
    You are such a great Mom!


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