Friday, November 02, 2007

HS Sports Rant Part II

Sometimes I use C/B to vent about things non-hockey. Today is part two of a previous rant about mean girls and high school volleyball. Part one is here if you are so inclined. Canes don't play tonight, and I'm not hearing any news out of the RBC, so now's as good a time as any to vent.

Monday was the big come to Jesus meeting at my kid's high school with the principal, assistant principal (and head football coach) the AD and my kids coaches. Nothing has changed for my daughter since she got back from Europe. She still works hard, treats her teammates and coaches with respect, but receives no such courtesy in return. And the clique still runs the show. They decide if, when and how hard practice will be. They decide when it's time to do cheerleading routines and belly sliding contests instead of something volleyball related. And they decide whether they are going to be nice to somebody on a given day or not.

On advice of counsel (in this case an assistant coach at the UA), I don't turn on the flamethrower to start the summit. Instead I open with a request to understand more about the relationship between my kid, her teammates and these coaches. Coaches say they don't notice my kid being bullied and ostracized. They say she's too cocky and it's really on her because she doesn't want to be a minion of the clique, errrrr part of the team. Oh really? She wants to be ignored and belittled? At the request of the head football coach (who knows the kind of kid and athlete she really is), I agree to get her to finish the season. Her coach eventually agrees that he should have noticed her isolation and distress and talked to her about things. He promises to do a better job of communicating with her.

So, she went back to practice on Tuesday, and back into the same old crap. The program is still run by a cabal of mean girls. But this new and tougher C/B kid #1 has decided to start standing up for herself. Instead of just silently taking crap from the alpha she-wolves, barks right back. Now you know the alpha's won't allow any of that, so they get the pack to chime in and try to apply concentrated peer pressure to beat her down. She now has to listen to a chorus of crap when an alpha signals that it's beat-down time. And yet she still refuses to be cowed. She goes on to hit and block with a vengeance that day (and all this week). She forces the coaches to take a stand and back her. She asks for the opportunity to participate in drills slated to be "starters only." And she crushes. At the end of practice, she goes up to the head coach and tells him, "I'm going to finish the season, but I'm not taking any more crap." His only response? "Yeah, I noticed."

It's been three days since the big meeting. Three practices. Those three words are the only discussion the head coach has had with my daughter.

When I was in high school, I earned the starting goalie spot on my high school soccer team as a sophomore. For a couple of weeks it was real difficult because I replaced a senior who figured the position was his. And since he enjoyed significant social standing, many of the other seniors and juniors on the squad had his back-for awhile. They'd talk him up and talk me down. They'd purposely try to make me look bad in practice. My coach noticed this going on and put an immediate end to it. He simply didn't put up with crap from kids who thought they were entitled to running the show because of their social stature and upperclassmen standing. My coach was committed to fielding the best team possible and simply demanded that the players respect the meritocracy or hit the road. Eventually, the senior discovered that marijuana was more fun than soccer, and I went on to selection as the first team all conference goalie. Unfortunately, my daughter doesn't enjoy such principled leadership from her coaches.

Mommas don't let your babies grow up to be she-wolves. I read an article today about how mean girl cliques form and become all-consuming. The author used the analogy of a group of teens being on a cruise ship where a few socially dominant kids have decided they really hate all the structure and silly activity programming. Over time, these alpha's convince a small group that the cruise ship sucks, and they talk the group into jumping into a life boat and rowing away. Now the kids who only kinda thought the cruise ship sucked are stuck. If they don't bend to the will of the alphas from that point on, they might get tossed overboard. Keeping their place in the clique becomes a means of survival.

In essence, that's my kid's high school volleyball experience, except that no matter how incredibly clueless and ineffectual her coaches have been, she's never let the clique toss her overboard.

This evening the regional and state final playoffs start. Practice this week has been pretty lax. Not much structure or intensity until last night. The alphas are kinda getting tired of volleyball, so the coaches haven't wanted to press too hard. And how can you blame them? They don't want to get thrown overboard either. With a little luck, this will all be over by Tuesday.


PB said...

I'm impressed with your daughter's tenacity.

The Head Coach must have been either a spineless jellyfish in school (or in life as a teacher), or part of the cliques as well. I think it's also accurate to say that the coach is an idiot as well...

It's too bad that these issues persist and never go away. Because of your daughter's resilience, she'll be the successful woman while the other alpha-clique-mean-girls will be shells of their former selves not knowing what to do when the clique grows up and moves away.

Unless they end up teaching in high school...then they'll get to do the same thing to others all over again.

CasonBlog said...

Thanks Paul.

magnolia_mer said...

It's amazing how some things never change. I was the target of bitchy girls through most of grade school and high school.

It's wonderful that your daughter can stick to her guns and think for herself. That skill will serve her well throughout her life. Tell her it gets better in college.

CasonBlog said...

I saw a cartoon outside an office door the other day. The image was of a girl tightly clutching her notebook to her chest while she looked fearfully over her shoulder. The caption read:
"High school-the years you'll meet people you'll spend the rest of your life avoiding."

The kid is tough. She sat out the whole regional final on Saturday and watched her team blow a 2-1 lead to lose in five.