We started having mandatory parents/players meetings in the 1990’s after I heard Marquette Coach Al McGuire speak at a clinic. He asked how many of us had problems with parents, and almost everyone raised their hand. He asked how many of us had a meeting with the parents before the season explaining YOUR expectations for THEIR behavior. No one raised their hand. Coach McGuire said, "I do not feel sorry for any of you." We have had a meeting every year since that clinic.
I sent a letter to every parent, our administration, and our school board inviting them to the meeting. I invited the administration and the school board so they could be a part of the process, because many parents will go over your head to them and I would rather they heard first from me. Remember, be proactive, not reactive. I would also ask the parents to contact me directly if they would not attend the meeting. If they did not, but approached me during the season I would tell them that we discussed that at the meeting and that they did not contact me so I would not discuss it now.
At the meeting we discussed:
- team rules that the players and parents had to sign and return to the staff
- that playing time was earned and not negotiated
- difference between role and status. Not everyone has the same role, but they all have the same status
- we reminded them that the players had at least 160 free opportunities to improve during our offseason and preseason programs
- multiple sport athletes
- that if a parent ever requested a meeting that the meeting would include our entire coaching staff and their son/daughter
- the "outside noise." How I deal with the media
- I told the parents that our practices were open, we had nothing to hide, but if they attended DO NOT coach. In 31 years, not one ever attended
- my relationship with and the role of the booster group
As I stated in the title, I truly believe the key is to be proactive and not reactive. I was a head coach at two different high schools in the suburbs of Pittsburgh and I could count on one hand the number of major issues I ever had with a parent.
This article was written by Coach Rick Bell - Former Head Basketball Coach at Canon McMillan High School. Has worked many camps in the Pittsburgh Area and has taken two basketball programs to great success in Peters Township School District and now Canon McMillan High School. He is The Players Edge Summer Camp Director and is coveted as one of the premier summer camp directors in the Pittsburgh Area.