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Out of bounds? Coaching in Palo Alto high schools - Part 2

Original post made on May 21, 2010

What happens when Palo Alto's high school athletes and their parents complain that a coach's behavior has crossed the line? In Part 2 of "Out of bounds?" the Weekly examines the administrative challenges in overseeing nearly 100 teams and 150 coaches, explores how officials have investigated complaints, and identifies key areas that could use attention and improvement.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 21, 2010, 9:28 AM

Related material:
■ Editorial: Reforming Palo Alto's high school sports Web Link
■ A confusing complaint process Web Link
■ Who oversees high school athletics? Web Link
■ Tips for high school sports parents Web Link
■ Sports Boosters help fund athletics Web Link
■ Documents and complaints Web Link
■ Out of bounds? Part 1 (published May 14) Web Link

Comments (53)

Posted by Tyler Hanley, online editor of Palo Alto Online
on May 21, 2010 at 9:29 am

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

Editor's Note: Since there are several different stories relating to high school coaching, all comments will be consolidated on this thread to facilitate one discussion.


Posted by James, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 21, 2010 at 10:37 am

This article is a good clarification of the storm which resulted from part 1 of this topic. It is clearly an emotional topic, filled with a certain amount of defensiveness and retaliatory posturing. However, it seems to show a clear need for all people involved, coaches, players, parents, school administration, journalists, and all of us who read and respond to the media - to understand each other's priorities and motivations.

I have called out that coaches are first and foremost teachers and role models. The idea of "building a program" places too much pressure on sports that are expected to be fun and fulfilling, even in losing. Coaches must remain open to the feedback of their players. If parents must communicate directly to the school, this should be directed to the administration. Abusive coaches should be reprimanded before termination is considered. There is no tolerance for abusive language or behavior (that is a worthless 'old school' attitude), but as a professional, all coaches deserve fair process and performance improvement opportunities.

Students must be treated with decency, but also must remember that this is a clear two-way street. The coach must receive their respect, and the coach is in charge of the team and will set policies for play and practice. The coach will need to make unpopular decisions at times, as well, in the best interest of the team. Students who cannot accept this should leave the team without disruption or drama. Sports are voluntary and should not be pursued for the sole purpose of securing a collegiate scholarship offer. It is not the responsibility of a coach to showcase students who are using the team for their own interests, but if a player with this level of skill can help the team, then I support the coach to bring them forward.

So, that's it. Everyone is responsible for their own behavior. No coach is king, no player is more special than their team mates, and parents need to remember that this is their children's activity and not their own.

Teach! Learn! Play! Enjoy!


Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on May 21, 2010 at 11:13 am

After reading part 2, I stand behind my evaluation of the situation, with one other comment: You have a sports " old boys network ". Break it up and the district will be better for it. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Obfuscation should not be used to determine policy.

Apply Occam's Razor to this case. Managing sports teams in an educational environment should not be difficult. Some people are appearing to be making it so.

When it boils down to basics, ask yourself what are the reasons for being here in the first place?

TEACHING!!!


Posted by Still a disappointed reader, a resident of Professorville
on May 21, 2010 at 11:20 am

I am not sure why the author is still referring to a "controversy" surrounding Peters in this follow up.
Numerous parents wrote to the Weekly in strong support of Peters and your own article states "McEvoy said she was satisfied with the information Hansen gave her and that the findings ended up being supported (of Peters) by feedback forms administered by Hansen at the end of the season. She said the forms showed a majority of the team had a positive experience."

There was no controversy. There have been no complaints in 2010. A simple apology to Peters would have been more appropriate.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 21, 2010 at 11:59 am

Great coaches can change kids lives - just like great teachers. I'd like to see a similar investigation into our high school teaching staff - many suffer from the same issues. At least sports are optional -school is not.

I would like to see a clear route for constructive criticism of all district staff, coaches and teachers without the fear of retaliation toward the student or family.


Posted by DR, a resident of Mountain View
on May 21, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Good Grief. We have all had coachs we liked and those we did not like. Many, many people in this area inflate problems and make mountains out of mole hills. If your coach rubs you the wrong way, either perform the way they want you to, or take a hike. Athletics are meant to prepare you for life, kiddies, and life is the same as some of these ridiculous dramas you and your parents are wasting everone's time on. Suck it up get on with the sports.


Posted by GreenZone, a resident of College Terrace
on May 21, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Yes, good grief and thank you. DR you have just demonstrated what is wrong with the "old school" that James mentions earlier. The day that "Athletics" decided that it was "life preparation" was the start of the coaching problem. It is only a game. School is the preparation, not after school sports.


Posted by Disgusted by this article, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 21, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I don't understand why this story was written now when the subject is past history.

My children played sports in high school and there were pushy parents then who thought they knew more than the coach and that their prescious child was better than everyone else. It is time that the parents let the coaches do their job. If there is a problem, then deal with it then, but get out of the coaches faces so they can do their job. The coach is the one who evaluates the athlete, not the parent. There are always unhappy parents because they feel their child should be playing more, the captain of the team, etc. Let the coach decide who does what.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by PL, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 21, 2010 at 3:32 pm

The comment by palo alto mom is on target. The articles have made it clear throughout that parents and kids are in fear of retaliation. Combine that with a very unclear process for raising concerns and it is hardly surprising that you have repeated issues here. No doubt Paly parents are at fault at times. But, those issues involving abusive/unfair coaches (or, for that matter teachers) need a more affective system to resolve. This must be a failure of administration, clearly this would be Hansen, McEvoy, and Skelly. With McEvoy's departure, one can only hope that Hansen will adjust his seemingly intransient attitude (and his props in the administration and at PalySportsBoosters will face the light of day) and that Skelly will re-engineer the system or demand performance of the people.


Posted by NeverOKtoYell, a resident of College Terrace
on May 21, 2010 at 5:36 pm

It's astounding that a coaches (and his apologists) would claim that being yelled at will prepare kids for the "real world". What real world could they possibly be thinking of? No one I know of yells at their employees, or gets yelled at by their managers. I know for a fact that professional baseball managers do NOT yell at their players. Maybe in some sports, but how many Gunn/Paly grads are going to end up in a professional sport? Tiny insignificant minority. The military? Ok, the military seems to feel that yelling at someone makes them a better soldier. But the military is, after all, about FIGHTING.

So, hey, if you want your children to grow into adulthood thinking it's ok to FIGHT, ok to yell at someone who is younger, smaller, or less powerful, or even worse, that it's ok to BE YELLED AT by someone who is older, larger, or more powerful ... then by all means continue support abusive coaches.


Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Now that part-2 has been published; all those Scott Peters supporters beware. Just because you did not witness the abusive behavior; does not mean that it did not happen. Having seen the good and bad of Scott Peters; He is not a good fit for Girls High School Basketball. Although there were no formal complaints for 2010; there was plenty of controversy. Because of fear of retaliation; and having seen the 2009 process go nowhere; 2010 season was just not worth the grief and headache with the administration. Let's expose this for what it is; lack of oversight by the administration and the AD. All he cares about is boys sports; period. Hopefully; this article will help facilitate changes for sports for all.


Posted by A concerned reader, a resident of another community
on May 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm

While the dynamics of coaching and growing our youth are undoubtedly complicated, I find this article to be irresponsible. I was disturbed by the first article but the continued bias compelled me to comment. From my understanding there was 1 year with complaints in a 16 year track record of successful coaching by Cory Olcott. It is odd to me that this reporter doesn't ask the question of what is common cause versus special cause. What parent dynamic this particular year, at this particular school resulted in this anomolous situation - when the years before & after lacked this dynamic? The fact that a reporter would write such a biased view of someone's career seems shameful. Why is a professional asking for feedback (especially when it wasn't being provided) something that is condemned rather than applauded as a sign of committtment and caring. Many Palo Alto Unified administrators diagnosed playing time as a primary driver of parent complaints, but the reporter never asks the parents - did they complain about playing time? Why? On what grounds? Should that be the role of parents? Is every administrator wrong? From his memo to Jerry Berkeson, one can see the experience Mr. Olcott is bringing from high school to college coaching - were the Stanford coaches, the adminstrators at Menlo School, and now at Paly all wrong? I hope this type of biased attack doesn't affect the committment of another valuable coach... or the willingness of other coaches to work in this community. Shame on the Palo Alto Weekly.


Posted by Damian Cohen, a resident of Menlo Park
on May 21, 2010 at 8:03 pm

This is a story in the San Jose Mercury today, "A female Pajaro Valley High School teacher allegedly had an ongoing sexual relationship with male student, and gave he and another teenage boy alcohol, police reported Friday." Yet, no name was released in the story as of yet. The police are conducting an investigation. Etc. That is proper journalism. That is when facts come to light, legal authorities get involved, and the media does its job and helps to protect our kids.

As I have maintained for the last two weeks, this is an excellent topic. As a coach myself, I too love hearing stories whereby coaches have had tremendous success. I want to learn their secret motivational tactics as much as the next person. What I don't want is exactly what Mr. Hansen addressed in the story-- a witch-hunt. Over the last two weeks, we have had some people in our communities suggest and maintain that the story is presented in a factual manner. However, both articles are simply he said/she said. It is disheartening to see that in the heart of Silicon Valley, with an extremely educated population, that people struggle differentiating fact from gossip. This is "reality" TV brought to print media. It is tabloid journalism. This was always an in-house story. And just because some want this story told, doesn't make it newsworthy let alone legal.

I suppose parts of what I just wrote will be censored out. There has been a great deal of that taking place as well. We can criticize these coaches. Put their name in the media. Create an online record. But if we suggest that perhaps the newspaper went too far, stretched the law, did not differentiate between private vs. public citizen, etc. those excerpts are removed. One is protected. One is hunted wild game. But at what cost? A community whereby underpaid but passionate coaches have to look over their shoulders every time someone is disgruntled? Overworked administrators blamed because they didn't respond properly to this tragedy or overreacted to that prank? Anonymous angry parents can have their letters used in print seemingly as evidence against teachers, coaches, and the like? Maybe we could go further and teachers can write letters, and newspapers can write stories, about the parents in the community who aren't motivational or are "abusive." Not all the teachers mind you, just a small handful of teachers...but the kids weren't doing their homework and the parents weren't responding to our phone calls...and here are their names. Did you see bruises? No, but I saw Mr. and Mrs. ignoring their kids while playing on their I-phones. Mrs. hit her son with the car door because he didn't see him, but nevertheless yelled at her son for not hustling to the carpool. Imagine that story for a minute. I suppose we would need to have at least a three part series for that story. Silly? Absurd? Ahhhh yes.


Posted by Change it up, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Contrary to the comments in some postings, this article has handled the issues quite diplomatically. In plain terms, the Paly administration is useless when it comes to protecting the kids. The coaches always get the benefit of the doubt, the parents are labeled whiners and the kids are retaliated against or told they should quit. And as this article demonstrates, they are willing to engage in subterfuge and lies (failure to follow the policies in handling complaints, not responding to parents, Hansen never talked to the girls on the basketball team but lied about it and McEvoy repeated the lies, Berkson builds a case to support the coach by attacking the players...McEvoy blaming the victim). You think that there were no problems in 2010??? Guess again. The valuable life lessons learned in 09 were that it doesn't do any good to even try to address the problems. Unless of course you are one of Hanson's "Boys" and then you might get some relief. Mr. Skelly, it's time to clean house.


Posted by Yep, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 21, 2010 at 8:41 pm

"In plain terms, the Paly administration is useless when it comes to protecting the kids." Yep, that's my take-away, too.


Posted by Paly Mom, a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Concerned Reader:
At least two parents did call Earl Hansen to complain at the end of the previous season, Olcott's first one at Paly. I believe many felt that it was his first year and thought they should reserve judgment and see how the second year went.
As for the "16-year track record of successful coaching," many would question that. According to some, he wasn't that successful at San Mateo High School, where he previously coached, and not all that popular with players. (It's somewhat surprising that Jackie McEvoy brought him to Paly, assuming she was aware of that.) A number of Stanford Club players whom he has coached and their parents haven't been too happy with his coaching either.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2010 at 9:04 pm

(Meanwhile, Perricone took matters into her own hands. During a game when it appeared to her that the coach was "berating" her daughter, using swear words, she protested the treatment, pulled her daughters from the game and took them home. Soon after her daughters quit the team -- the only time her kids quit a team. The coach did not come back the next year, she said.

"The school responded well, although it took longer than it should have," she said.)

Why would Gunn Administration keep silent in public? Perhaps Gunn could have fired the coach in the middle of the season too.


Posted by YSK, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 21, 2010 at 10:07 pm

This entire process is becoming a hatchet job and just another vehicle for the entitled parents and children of Palo Alto to jump on the rag-wagon and publicly air their personal grievances against select individuals. I have had complaints about certain coaches myself, but I constructively dealt with the issue in an upfront manner with the school, along with other parents. We did not come off as know it alls, but parents with concerns. The locking down of the commentary not giving anyone a chance to rebut the different and varied issues addressed in this series of articles also illustrates clearly that the objective here is not a factual article presenting all sides of an issue, but instead to invoke dissension. My family and our friends have all read the entire series and feel that this whole situation has been grotesquely blown out of proportion. I have watched coaches in other high schools in other districts, and from my observations you people have no clue what you COULD be dealing with vs. what we have now. Keep going on in this negative vein and see what you get in the future.

Our coaches are underpaid and overburdened. They have to deal with the parents in this district who can be a living nightmare. That's the one single fact that people employed by this District cannot say to a reporter, for fear of reprisal. Has even one person mentioned the spoiled kids that come to practices and games with their personal trainers provided by mommy and daddy? How participants in club are given unfair advantages over the kids who can't afford club, and if for some reason they aren't, their parents go screaming to the coaching staff about play time? How some parents sit at games and cheer for their kids while openly denigrating others?

No. It's all about the coaches. One sided. Negative. Out of bounds.


Posted by Comparisons, a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2010 at 10:27 pm

My daughter had the happy experience of going from one of the worst coaches I've ever seen, to absolutely the best. Coach 1 constantly yelled at the kids, talked their ears off without making anything clear, never benched my daughter (star player) no matter how many games or practices she missed, and never taught her anything new. He used her, basically, to help him build a career as a "winning" coach. Coach 2 never yelled, communicated and enforced clear rules, benched my daughter when she deserved it, and taught her more about the game in 1 year than the previous coach had done in 3 years. Being a good coach is not rocket science. Any coach with a set of consistent and fair principles applied consistently and fairly will not be pushed around whining players or pushy parents. But IMO there are some coaches in Palo Alto who maybe haven't made it in their chosen career, happened to have played a game in their youth, and think they can milk this gold mine called "Palo Alto parents" by setting themselves up as mini-Gods on the playing field. These individuals proceed to operate without principles or ethics, coaching in Club sports (where they do make a LOT of money) as well as in the schools.


Posted by Howard Dernehl, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2010 at 11:24 pm

I was at most of the Paly girls' water polo games for the fall 2008 season. I saw Cory Olcott coach the girls to perform and be the best they could. After reading the articles and comments my assessment remains unchanged from my first-hand experience. Cory is a good coach: let's declare him "inbounds!"

Howard Dernehl


Posted by Mary, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Open letter to all Paly coaches: Want to keep your job? Don't mess with the seniors! They are "special" - talent or not. My son and I learned this "lesson" the hard way last fall. Talent does NOT matter, but age does. And the senior parents will protest their "innocence" in influencing the decision to fire a coach. If you speak up about this matter, watch out for the fiery denials from the guilty. These same not-so-innocent parents will ask you to apologize for uncovering their dirty little secret. So coaches "duck and cover" when the senior parents are on the war path - protecting their untalented offspring.


Posted by Paly Mom, a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2010 at 10:30 am

I recommend that people go to "Documents and Complaints" and take a look at Gunn's and Paly's evaluation forms for coaches. What a difference...I'm glad this district committee on athletics, which includes administrators and athletic directors, has started meeting again.


Posted by Gabriel, a resident of Professorville
on May 22, 2010 at 10:41 am

All opinions accounted for, there is consensus that coaching in Palo Alto is a tough job. All public school teaching jobs in California are underpaid for those who perform well in the job. Coaching can be more personal than teaching at times, and coaches need to wear a thick skin. Coaches who cannot stand their working conditions, on and off the field or court, should leave the job and pursue something that brings joy. Parents need to exit the drama.

Coaches, if the parents are difficult why do you expect different behavior from their offspring? You had to know that your flock would be a difficult group. This isn't big time sports or a movie, you will not change the nature of people, you may only show the the true value of your leadership and understanding. You deserve to be shielded from meddling parents by your boss. Hopefully, you have a teaching credential and have learned your legal rights and those of your students. Stay above the fray and treat everyone respectfully, you are not a candidate for "Pros vs. Joes".

I am so tired of this discussion, I will stop watching the responses. We all love our own words too much to spend time on reading them again. Good luck.


Posted by Wow, a resident of College Terrace
on May 22, 2010 at 12:57 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Sally, a resident of Community Center
on May 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm

The CORRECT thing to do with the Paly waterpolo situation would have been for the AD to make things RIGHTt. He should have met with all of the girls to discuss the wrongs that the coach had done,instead he refused to LISTEN. He should have been involved and he should have made every effort to get these 9+ girls who quit back on the team. Once again we now have another Paly team with a small roster. How is does financially make sense Mr. AD? Moreover, this purely distorts the whole meaning of high school sports.
The easy way out is to say that the complaints are all about play time. The truth is right in front of you but you just have to face it. The reputation of this coach, this team and this school are at stake MR.AD.


Posted by evaluation form? wtf, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 22, 2010 at 8:45 pm

i have played sports at gunn for 3 years and been on 6 different teams and have NEVER seen or heard of the evaluation form! mr. horpel has some explaining to do


Posted by playing time, a resident of Barron Park
on May 22, 2010 at 9:43 pm

all of the h20 complaints are about playing time. Yup.


Posted by nothing new, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2010 at 12:24 pm


DC

"Maybe we could go further and teachers can write letters, and newspapers can write stories, about the parents in the community who aren't motivational or are "abusive."

that would be a good Part 3 to this article, about parents that go out of bounds.

and probably some athletes also go out of bounds.

as long as the major sports only have one or two teams, it's about all these personal dramas




Posted by Polo Watch, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 23, 2010 at 4:29 pm

The Paly girls' problems started in 2007 when certain parents were upset about playing time. They claimed bias against their girls because their girls didn't play for Cory and the Stanford program. One parent actually tried to recruit a friend of mine to be the replacement coach just in case she could get Olcott fired during that season. Where is the newspaper report on that little factoid?

Obviously there is a wide opinion on what is coaching abuse and whether it happened to the degree that some people have stated. I cannot judge because I was not there nor do I have a daughter on the team. Hint, hint, neither should you! But it is all too clear that playing time started the campaign to fire Olcott. It was then exasperated, if not eclipsed, by the alleged sarcasm, ball throwing and sharp criticism aimed at individuals in 2008.

No one is without fault here. Plenty of glass houses.


Posted by Out of line, a resident of Gunn High School
on May 23, 2010 at 4:47 pm

This article suggest that Mr. McGinn resigned because of negative evaluations when in fact the majority of the evaluations were positive or neutral. These evaluations also should never have been allowed to be made anonymously because Mr. McGinn is certificated personnel of the PAUSD.
I believe another article needs to be written on the careless actions of the administration that go on before our coaches even take the field. There will no longer be questions as to why more teachers don't also coach.


Posted by Me Too, a resident of Midtown
on May 23, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Out of line, do you care to expand on what you mean by "the careless actions of the administration"? Why do you think Mr. McGinn resigned? Why do you say the evaluations "should never have been allowed" - is that reference to union contract provisions or ??


Posted by Out of line, a resident of Gunn High School
on May 23, 2010 at 5:54 pm

All I am saying is that there is much more to the Gunn football story than what is written and Matt McGinn's resignation had absolutely nothing to do with the evaluations. I hope more comes out about what goes on behind the scenes with athletic directors and the administration above them. I can't say more because it's not my story to tell.


Posted by Paly Mom, a resident of Midtown
on May 23, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Polo Watch:
Since almost all of the girls who complained about Cory's coaching were still on the junior varsity in 2007, they would not have complained about playing time, and neither would their parents. They all played.
If you ask girls who were on the 2008 team about the alleged sarcasm, sharp criticism aimed at individuals, etc., few will deny it. Some accepted it as part of his coaching style (especially the ones who were not usually the targets); others, like my daughter, were very affected by it, even when others were the ones being treated disrespectfully.
In this case, it's been easy for Mr. Olcott and his supporters to say it's all about playing time since those who were critical but made the decision to continue playing decided it was not in their interest to be openly critical. Most (not all) of the players who felt comfortable saying what they thought were girls who had already decided to quit if the coach wasn't going to be replaced. The same with the parents. Who's surprised?


Posted by Out of line 2, a resident of Gunn High School
on May 23, 2010 at 7:42 pm

"This article suggest that Mr. McGinn resigned because of negative evaluations when in fact the majority of the evaluations were positive or neutral. These evaluations also should never have been allowed to be made anonymously because Mr. McGinn is certificated personnel of the PAUSD."

I agree with Out of line. The majority of players and parents got along and respected Matt. To my knowledge there was no complaints of him mistreating players. The only complaints that I heard were that the team was not winning enough. Matt is one of the nicest and most supportive coaches that I have come across in all of the years of my sons sports teams. The players were really sad to see him go and it is no surprise that Paly picked him up immediately as one of their coaches. The evaluations were not from every parent. I would bet that there were not more than a third of the team/parents that even filled out an evaluation. The most vocal in any group are usually the complainers not the satisfied group so the evaluation was flawed unless everyone was included. Parents were shocked that the evaluations were used to quickly review the coaches (even before the season was over) and they said that they would have filled out evaluations had they known how serious the review was. I am not saying that there are not some coaches that are "out of bounds" but Matt McGinn should NEVER have been used as an example in this article. Mr. Horpel should know this.


Posted by Me Too, a resident of Midtown
on May 23, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Here's the article from the Gunn paper on the topic of Coach McGinn's departure:

Web Link

It gives a fuller account of some of the issues that arose and the decision making process. It makes it clear that the evaluations were done, but certainly did not appear to be the driver of the decision. Mr. Horpel has positive things to say about Coach McGinn, though clearly they disagreed.

It is worth noting, I suppose, that Gunn went on to have its best football season in quite a while (at least five years), finishing at 7-4 and going to the playoffs for the first time in quite a while. The best record in the five previous years was 3-7. Winning isn't the only criteria, of course, but other things being equal, this looks like an improvement in the program.


Posted by Teddie, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on May 23, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Having coached high school sports for a number of years, I as a coach would really have to do a deep self evaluation if 8 members of my team quit. To me that is a true barometer of a coaches success. Mr Hansen's comments about parental complaints being 99 percent about playing time strikes me as naive. Mr Hansen's overall attitude at least what I got from reading this article seems very defensive and closed minded. If indeed 8 members of a team quit, you have a real problem there and should present an attitude that at least acknowledges a problem exist and that he as AD is addressing the situation in some matter. Old school indeed.


Posted by MidPen Resident, a resident of Menlo Park
on May 23, 2010 at 9:33 pm

I don't know what happened during the 2008 Paly water polo season, but I know a hit piece when I read one.

Terri Lobdell has an agenda with her series and it's to get certain coaches fired. All this fluff about discussing when coaches are "out of bounds" would be a great conversation to have, but only if it were treated with the level of professionalism it deserves.

The two articles written by Terri Lobdell were not intended to further that discussion. They were only intended to get someone fired. I hope the Palo Alto community can rise above the individual agendas being furthered by Terri Lobdell's articles and fix any problems that truly need fixing. Until that happens, do yourself a favor and avoid reading trash reporting like this.


Posted by Liz, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 23, 2010 at 11:06 pm

It's hard for me to imagine that you read the same articles that I did. Terri Lobdell interviewed and quoted numerous people with varying points of view. It seems that some people are so unwilling to consider opinions other than their own that they try to discredit whoever presents them, even journalists who try to tell both sides of the story.


Posted by GoldenRule, a resident of Meadow Park
on May 24, 2010 at 9:32 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 24, 2010 at 1:12 pm

A few comments: When the Principle asked this question I believe it was to force the student to quit and all be over. Not ok....

In their final meeting, McEvoy asked the Atkinsons why their daughter didn't quit the team. "'Why are you putting your daughter through this?' was her attitude," Dave Atkinson said. "It's McEvoy's job to make sure this is an environment that is supportive of kids."

Shame on you McEvoy

To all Palo Alto Coaches please let this be a wake up call. When forming teams rank the students on paper. Only put players on the team that demonstrate the appropriate skill and ability at the time of tryouts. When tryouts begin give a sheet letting students know exactly what you are looking for. I am sure even with the sheet if a student has the skill you will see it executed correctly and if they don't you won't see it executed correctly or consistantly. This will not only tell the student what they need to work on but explain how and why the decision was made. Yes it is more work but it removes nonsense like this.

Second we all hate the play Viking for Paly Girls rename the play please. Second Scott if you put players on your team that have the heart of the game/skill/ and ability then you will not have to tell them what to do on the floor. Create a starting five. Last year there was no set starting 5. When doing this the girls will bond and play more cohesive.

Second except parent suggestions if given and note why or why not to use that advice, but hands down STOP LETTING PALO ALTO PARENTS BIND YOUR HANDS. This is so obvious with the combinations played last year as well as some of the players on the team. If the girls are serious about playing they will work on their skills this summer and be ready for next year.

Scott is a good coach but he needs to stop putting girls on the team just because. Create a team of 10 players that can play all 5 positions.

Now that this nonesense is out, let's put it behind us Scott put together a solid team for the 10/11 basket ball season and let's go further in CCS.


Posted by Polo Watch, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 24, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Paly Mom: The girls varsity team had a couple sophomores on the varsity in 2007. Same last year and same this year. The parent who was trying to get Olcott fired and was at the same time trying to recruit a neighbor to coach had a sophomore daughter on the team in 2007. Which makes this issue even more interesting because she thought she knew more than the coach, though she had no water polo experience herself and her daughter was a first year varsity player as a sophomore.


Posted by jsh, a resident of Barron Park
on May 24, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Look, all you parents are listening to your youth coaches to much letting them tell you, your son or daughter is going to be the next "something". When you get to high school, things change. Most good coach always look to those kids that are coachable. If they can't be coached, we are going to have these problems all the time...

The first question asked by many coaches scouting, is " are they coachable?" Really seek out " Positive Coaching " the same for kids and thier parents!!!

Coaches, need information from players and parents. Feedback, good or not!!!



Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2010 at 12:40 pm

A simple question- why is it so hard for coaches to clean up their language?


Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 25, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Dear Parent,

Simple Answer; because the AD uses the same language. Go to a Paly Football Game !!!!

Ask anyone .................


Posted by Old Time PA, a resident of Green Acres
on May 25, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Why would anyone want to coach in Palo Alto? What satisfaction does one get when it's a no-win situation. Everything from Little League to High School is controlled by the parents, or the boards that know very little about the respective sports. If you are a very good coach with a good track record, then just coach where parents have little or no influence (ie clubs, Connie Mack, etc..). This is overblown, but in PA everything else is as well.


Posted by Paly Mom, a resident of Midtown
on May 25, 2010 at 9:49 pm

There's some truth to what Old Time PA says, but, in my experience, some of the parents-not all-exert too much influence in order to give their own kids an advantage.


Posted by Sally, a resident of Community Center
on May 26, 2010 at 9:09 am

There is no gray area here...If a coach swears at the players then get rid of him/her. If the coach belittles and verbally abuses the players, get rid of him/her. If the coach promotes HIS club players at the expense of others then get rid of him. If the coach can't control his temper on the sidelines then get rid of him. These coaches are to be held at the same standards as teachers-READ THE RULES! This behavior does NOT belong at Paly. For any administration to continue to allow these coaches to continue to coach at Paly is ABUSIVE.
Ever notice that we do not have many female coaches on our staff coaching girls sports at Paly? Why is this? These abusive,egotistical,domineering men should not be coaching women. Perhaps this is all how they get their kicks!


Posted by MidPen Resident, a resident of Menlo Park
on May 26, 2010 at 9:54 am

You could do a lot to re-establish yourself as credible journalists by writing a follow up piece that exposes PARENTS who are "out of bounds". Often times it's the parents who are the ones that push their kids too hard to achieve, or instill an overwhelming sense of entitlement in their kids because of their place in society.

Anyone remember Todd Marinovich? Does the name George Huguely ring a bell?

To write a 2-part series that singles out athletic coaches is irresponsible. Give us an expose of Palo Alto parents who are "out of bounds".


Posted by Downtown parent, a resident of University South
on May 26, 2010 at 11:02 am

Dear Mid Pen and others,
This is not an either-or situation. Of course there are some parents who are "out of bounds" but that doesn't mean there aren't coaches who are "out of bounds."
These articles are about coaches because the coaches are the ones under the management of the public high schools, which report to the Unified School District, which is funded by our taxes and populated partly by our elected representatives. Our taxes and our votes are reflected in the condition of our schools, including their sports programs. It is appropriate for a newspaper to investigate problems in our public institutions, which is what this series of articles has done. It's appropriate to raise issues and stimulate debate in the community. Hopefully, these articles will lead the PAUSD Superintendent to assure that Palo Alto's school rules are consistent, that complaint procedures are clear, and that High School principals uphold standards on the field as well as in the classroom -- by careful hiring, training, mentoring and, if necessary, firing.
Are some parents a problem? Yes. Is that a challenge for coaches (and teachers)? Absolutely. Is it the school or the district's responsibility to correct? No.
Can the school do anything to help control "out of bounds" parents? Yes, by establishing clear standards for behavior and assuring that coaches (and teachers) model that behavior themselves, and by helping coaches and teachers learn how to deal with challenging parents. When that happens, parents whose behavior at a game crosses the line may be asked to leave the stands (for example, for swearing or demeaning players during a game, or coaching from the sidelines). And beyond game time, if the coach spends his many hours with the kids clearly reinforcing the values of respect, courage, teamwork, personal development and the importance of everyone's contribution, then his powerful influence can help counteract the swell-headed or self-centered or foul-mouthed parents out there.
Thank you, Palo Alto Weekly, for shedding light on this controversial and important part of high school life.


Posted by Doc Scheppler, a resident of another community
on May 27, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Having read the article and the comments about Cory and Scott I wouldn't want to be a coach at Palo Alto. These are 2 quality guys that LOVE what they are doing, have a passion for teaching and demand excellence from their players every time. It's time for the complaining parents and their daughters to have some perspective. You might disagree with an aspect of their coaching style or a specific instance, but know they are Human and make mistakes, just like parents step out of line and behave poorly.
I long for the time that the coach was a truly respected position. When you look back on your days of sports, othr than your parents, your coach was the one you remember as being that great influence in your life. You didn't always agree,BUT you loved him or her for what they were to you. Parents nowadays get in the way of that process because they are invested emotionally, financially, and egotistically in their child's endeavors, and that causes them to fall into temporary parental insanity, where they fail to see the big picture. 10 years down the road, they will look at themselves and realize they probably should have behaved differently.
Cory and Scott are great guys who coach for the love of their sports. Let them coach your daughters will have a great experience.


Posted by PLEASE BE KIND TO TEENS, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 28, 2010 at 11:19 am

in the middle of all this are

TEENS- emotional creatures, and their executive functions do not work the way you expect them to

screaming, and using violent language with TEENS is unacceptable,

I agree that parents can and often go out of bounds

but there needs to be more professional training of coaches about developmental issues in TEENS

sports in high school or middle school should NOT go by the same standards as adult sports - the tough love thing

maybe some teens don't complain but are scarred for life by offensive treatment

it's not that coaches need to be within bounds, they actually have to be EXTRA KIND.

I'd rather have hundreds of emotionally balanced teens in sports than three screwed up star athletes







Posted by Paly Mom, a resident of Midtown
on May 29, 2010 at 10:08 am

I'm sure outrageous behavior by parents described in a couple of previous postings happens in some sports, but my daughter was involved in 3 at Paly in recent years, and I've never witnessed it. However, I did come across wealthy parents, accustomed to being influential, who expected their daughters to play and "connected" with the coaches early on. That sense of entitlement that is so common in P.A. seeps into high school athletics and influences coaches and administrators. As public schools become more dependent on the monetary contributions of families, this will become even more prevalent. Sufficient funding, clear standards and guidelines and better procedures for voicing concerns are all needed.


Posted by Shocked, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 11, 2010 at 9:00 am

I found the comment suggesting that high school students "Man up" and confront their alleged abusers particularly disturbing. Some, probably not all, of the situations described in the articles was definitely abusive. Would we ask victims of domestic or sexual abuse to "man up"?


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