Baseball parents cry ‘foul’
DENVER – About 50 parents and baseball players filed into the East Lincoln Optimist Clubhouse on Wednesday, Oct. 26, for a public forum to discuss questions and concerns about the club’s baseball programs.
The forum was planned due to complaints Optimist Club board members received throughout the spring and fall baseball seasons about how the programs were being run.
Some issues resulted in several teams leaving the Optimist Club for what they thought were greener pastures.
Among the issues raised were how coaches were selected for each team.
Kim Parker questioned the process for her kids’ 9 and 10-year-old all-star team.
“That’s something that ended up making our 9 and 10-year-old team leave the Optimist Club,” Parker said. “When you look at the other all-star teams, their coaches are all-star baseball coaches. This year, it wasn’t run that way. It was football coaches who were present, and we just couldn’t understand that.”
Optimist Club board member Doug McCurry said he’s got specific reasons for choosing the coaches for each all-star team, and that having a winning record doesn’t necessarily guarantee a spot on the coaching staff.
“You might have a coach that wins the tournament and goes undefeated,” McCurry said, “but their coaching style and the way they represent East Lincoln Optimist may not be the best.”
Alex Akers, a player in the 13 and 14-year-old age group, came to the meeting with concerns about playing time. Akers played 11 out of a possible 56 innings of baseball this season and stepped up to bat just three times.
“These parents didn’t pay money to come see their kids be sad about not playing,” Akers said. “Some of these kids, including myself, feel unimportant to the team. The point I’m trying to make is that something needs to be done, just let us play baseball.”
A failure to communicate between coaches from Akers’ team and the Optimist Club board saw 18 players on the roster, resulting in amplified time on the bench for some players.
Akers’ mother, Pam, found the communication breakdown between coaches and the board to be very troubling.
“My son batted three times all season,” Pam Akers said. “What is wrong with that? Do you people have a problem with that? I paid $115 for my son to play recreational baseball and he got 11 innings and got to bat three times.”
East Lincoln High School baseball coach Chris Matile doesn’t coach baseball at the Optimist Club, but brought several ideas to the meeting. One included creating a profile for each player so coaches at the next age level would have a better understanding for that player’s needs.
Other ideas or concerns raised during the meeting included:
• Adapting rules based on the different age levels.
• Having earlier starting times. Some games lasted past 10 p.m. on school nights.
• Keeping an eye on coaches that were being too hard on players in a recreational setting.
• Making sure player drafts weren’t carried out in an unfair manner.
• Having umpires stand behind the plate rather than behind the pitcher.
• Getting East Lincoln High School baseball players more involved with the Optimist Club in practice settings.