By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The other day I read a news report about a coach attacking a fan after a basketball game. In all of my years, several decades-worth, of covering high school athletics, I’ve seen fights on the field and fights in the stands and parking lots, but I’ve never heard of a coach being involved.
That is pure ridiculousness.
According to the Charlotte Observer, West Lincoln (N.C.) Head Basketball Coach Chad Wright allegedly went into the stands and got into a fight with a fan following a game on Tuesday, Jan. 7. The report said the fan allegedly taunted the coach after West Lincoln lost to Newton-Conover 63-28. The Observer reports that West Lincoln hasn’t won a game this season.
In my time on the sidelines, I’ve heard fans say taunting things to coaches and referees, and I’ve sometimes heard them answer back with flowery language, but I’ve never, ever seen it turn to violence from the side of a coach. That is just inexcusable.
Coaches are there to teach their respective sport to their players, but they’re also there to help guide the young players on their way to becoming responsible, and most importantly, respectful adults.
I get it – sometimes fans are obnoxious. Sometimes, they definitely cross the line. But, when that happens, the coach must rise above and not act out of anger but instead use that as a teaching moment for his players.
For his actions, Coach Wright is now facing several misdemeanor charges according to the Observer. This situation ended up being a teaching moment for his players, but in the opposite direction.
I get the opportunity to cover Cherokee sports and be around some great coaches. Kent Briggs, former Braves head football coach, was one of the best. With his calm demeanor on and off the field, he led his players by example. He showed them that you can play hard and still have the utmost respect for your fellow players, opponents, fans, referees, etc.
Briggs, an honorary member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), set an example of how to act and he got his players to buy into his philosophy of hard work and respect.
Phil Jackson, former coach (1989-98) of the Chicago Bulls who won six NBA titles with the club, once said, “I think the most important thing about coaching is that you have to have a sense of confidence about what you’re doing. You have to be a salesman, and you have to get your players, particularly your leaders, to believe in what you’re trying to accomplish on the basketball floor.”
Cherokee High School has some wonderful coaches who do this with two I’ve worked with for years leaping off the page to me including Eddie Swimmer, CHS and CMS head cross country and track and field coach; and Aaron Hogner, CHS Braves head basketball coach. Both set an example of respect. Hogner and Swimmer, both EBCI tribal members, are both traditional men grounded in their culture. Hogner, who grew up in Oklahoma, is a southern plains singer at pow wows and also sings at Stomp Dances; and Swimmer, who has traveled the world, is a champion hoop dancer and pow wow dancer.
It is important for players to respond well to their coaches. And, the best way for this to be accomplished is for the players to listen to them and this only occurs if the players respect them. Players respect coaches who set a positive example. They don’t respond well to coaches who end up in brawls in the stands.
The late Tom Landry, legendary head coach of the Dallas Cowboys (1960-88), once said, “Really, coaching is simplicity. It’s getting players to play better than they think that they can.”