How a Coach can affect a Child

As a Professional and a coach for 26 years now, I can tell you how much of an effect we have on a person’s life, adult or children. When I certify my trainers I always say are you ready to save someone’s life? True words. With one motivational word, encouragement, letting them feel a part of a team and included them we can allow someone’s self-esteem to sore and empower them in ways we couldn't even imagine. 

A bad coach can have the opposite effect and I want to share my frustration and experience with a horrible coach which broke my daughter’s self-esteem and sent her on a path I tried for years to help her avoid. No matter what I did I wasn't getting anywhere. 

This High School soccer coach has over 10 years of complaints that have been reported to the prior Athletic Director regarding him, Coach Sprouls. The answer is always the same that he is a teacher and in the union and they have not looked elsewhere to hire a new coach. Parents were not informed of what else they could do and didn’t realize they could go to a school committee meeting to make sure he was not appointed. If they knew they would have had him out years ago. I put together with other parents that complained about him a list of reasons why this man should not be coaching our children.

- He had his friend hold an illegal soccer camp during the summer were he had his friend tell the girls messages that they needed to put more effort in when at practice, etc. A coach is supposed to have nothing to do with a separate camp such as this. He also coached one of the camp days himself. A softball coach was suspended from games for doing that in the past.
 

- From the first practice with the team he created an environment of no team spirit and a bullying. He separated the freshmen girls from all the other girls and does not facilitate or promote any team connection or spirit. He does no team building drills or anything else that promotes a TEAM.
 

- He had the girls pay 20.00 each for used pennies for practices that were the schools property. After meeting with the AD on this he had to refund the money to the girls.
 

- There were also fundraisers held where the coach did not fill out the proper paperwork to hold a fundraiser and there is no bookkeeping log of what was raised and for what it was raised for. There is an ongoing investigation into this by the superintendent but this is another policy he has broken.
 

- After a home scrimmage game he cut 3 girls less than 3 minutes after the game in front of team mates and the fans in the stands. The girls then had to walk across the field in front of everyone. This is not ok and humiliating.
 

- Several other coaches have told numerous parents that Coach Sprouls has asked them to help him run soccer drills and help coach the girls because he does not know how to do that himself.
 

- He does NOT communicate at all with the parents. He has his Captains send out twitter messages. Mind you the Captains have still not really been introduced to all the girls on the team. Some of these girls have no clue who is who.
 

- He does not have the Captains help with the other players. Some newer players have asked the experienced girls to help them with something they did not understand and they were not answered but instead they rolled their eyes at them.  This attitude and behavior is because of the atmosphere this coach has created amongst the team members.

 

- The AD in his speech at orientation said Johnston High School hopes that you nudge your children to come out and try sports and participate. This new freshmen came out to play soccer and was told by Coach Sprouls that this is not the place to learn soccer and their daughter should have played recreation soccer to learn. Then sits her out like she is nothing. That alone could kill this poor girl’s self-esteem for a long time and truly affect her life in a negative way. A coach should never make any child feel like a total outcast. After a meeting he was told to bring that girl and the other 2 he cut back on. He had a Captain text her to invite her back on the team as a Team Manager/Helper. Since she has been on he has no uniform for her and doesn’t let her participate in practices but instead has her just picking up the soccer balls. That is not how you build players for future years ahead or treat a human being. This is also discrimination. He was told to give her a uniform and as of the 6th game on September 16th she still had no uniform.
 

- The JV Team was also cut this year. Numerous reasons have been told to parents but from what we see there is enough girls on the bench to have a JV team because there is also a swing rule where Varsity players can play JV if players are needed.  The assistant coach is paid because she is a JV Coach but if there is no JV team she shouldn’t be paid.
 

- Coach Sprouls reputation has scared off many students from not trying out for soccer that want to play. He is personally killing the program. Any skills these kids come with are from their past training and not because of him. A parent two years ago had a meeting with principals about this Coach and his daughter quit playing soccer during High School because of him. There is a list of girls that have not played because of this man. A long list. There is another story of a father chasing him on the field with his vehicle because of issues with him also. Any time this man’s name is mentioned there is a negative story and everyone says the same thing.. “Why is he still coaching!”
 

- All practices are run the same way all the time. The girls are bored and not excited or happy to be a part of this team. The assistant coach on Saturday, Sept. 12th, 2015 was so frustrated herself with him at the practice she walked off the field and left the practice.
 

- Coach Sprouls does not sub the girls during games or play all his players. He has star athletes that he sits on the bench and never plays. He is not giving a shot to any of these girls to shine. He has exhausted players on the field that need a break and won’t sub them out.
 

- Coach Sprouls took kids out of a game because they took a shot on net and he wasn’t happy from where they did it from. He is a bully and his coaching is not professional. He does not know the game of soccer at all and if they are winning it is because these kids that play have skill from years before playing for high school. He also told the team after they won a game, after trailing from behind that, “they played horrible.” These words resonate in their minds.
 

- The AD had a meeting with the team and told them they should “try as hard as the coach is coaching them” this is how he starts a meeting then telling the girls they can come to him with issues but to give the coach a break a lot of people are upset with him and they should all know not every girl will play in the games. Then one team member spoke up and he shot her down immediately and rolled his eyes at her. So the other girls felt afraid to say anything else at that point. These girls do not have a safe place to express themselves about this coach and how they feel about the lack of team spirit. One of the older seniors even yelled at the teammate for speaking up. This is not ok. And the AD after just saying you can talk to him should have encouraged the girls to speak up if they agreed with that teammate. Just like his speech on orientation day he contradicts his own words.
 

- There are a lot of Parents that are afraid to come forward because they are afraid their child may be benched and never see playing time.  
 

- Coach Sprouls was also not putting scores in for each player on RIIL. This is part of his job to record scores.  This only happened after parent’s complained about it after 5 games.

 

A coach is supposed to facilitate an environment of team building, motivation, inspiration, mentoring and training. This is not supposed to create so much anger and frustration for so many parents and children. This should be competitive but it should also be fun. This is not how any child should experience their high school years playing a sport. There is much more to being a coach then just taking the job. You should be held responsible for coaching skills, mentoring, inspiring, team building. You should have to submit an outline of how you plan on team building the team. Does the coach have team building drills in place, does the coach have skills in soccer, has he went to any coach training clinics, does the coach know how to inspire and motivate teenage girls for soccer or the sport they are hired for.

I and the other parents think it’s time that there is a better plan in place for the hiring of coaches. Coaches affect the self-esteem, confidence and experience that these children have in very precious years of their life. Teenagers are dealing with tons of hormones, emotions and life issues and a coach can literally save the life of these teens or ruin them. This is a huge responsibility and should be taken seriously by those when hiring someone.

Meeting after meeting with school committee and the superintendent seemed perfect but in the end nothing was done. He coached all season, my daughter quit because after being the face of the parent army it caused more issues then needed. Because she quit instead of being a part of a team and continuing her soccer career she quit soccer for good and turned to hanging out with friends. Friends on the path I tried to avoid her to be around for years. Ever since the day she handed in her uniform it’s been a spiral. It’s sad because I can see how this could have been avoided and it would have been if she was playing soccer. I can’t stress how important sports are for kids and the right coach.  From all I have experienced my goal is to create a program for teens to help empower them, teach them coping skills for life and give parents advice and resources to help them as well. So many kids become lost when they don’t make a varsity team and there is no JV team or want to play but are afraid because so many coaches say High School isn’t a place to learn how to play a sport. We have one shot at getting it right and helping our teens through these tough years and we need all the help we can get to keep them on track. Stay tuned for program launches for teens in the future.



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