Everyone remembers "Hockey Dad." He was the guy sentenced to prison for beating another kid's father to death for perceived rough play between the two kids on the ice. He was and remains the antithesis of good-natured youth sportsmanship.
Although his case is an extreme one, it serves as a benchmark. The incident occurred in Massachusetts, so what does an overzealous parent in the Northeast have to do with Tulsa?
How about a tee ball umpire being choked and punched by an assistant coach? What about five basketball players and a spectator punching, pushing to the ground then repeatedly kicking a referee? How about a baseball coach attacking an umpire after the game?
The above scenarios occurred in Oklahoma over the years. Are there more transgressions that go unreported? Likely. The point being, youth sports should be fun, regulated and, most importantly, about the kids.
Back in 1981 an idea was hatched. Fred Engh created the National Alliance for Youth Sports, with coaches, parents and children in mind.
John Engh, Fred's son and COO, says the membership association serves every community that wants to be served. Tulsa was recognized as a top 10 chapter worldwide, and almost 1,000 coaches were certified this past year.
The training and subsequent certification is for "Moms and dads who are basically coaching their kids and are looking for a little bit of direction in training," Engh said.
Parents have the right idea. They volunteer to help the kids field a team, and while their intentions are good, sometimes we all need a little push down the right path.
I remember playing tee ball for a multitude of coaches. My dad even took a turn one year. Thinking back makes me wonder, was he qualified to be in charge of all these six and seven-year olds? And keep in mind, I love my dad, this is just a reality check.
NAYS wants to make the sports experience safe, fun and healthy for all children, "basically getting away from the philosophy of 'win at all cost' for recreational youth sports."
"Someone in Tulsa got it a long time ago.
It just shows you how successful it can be in a pretty big-sized community," said Engh.
That someone in Tulsa is Sue Price. Price is the Youth Sports Coordinator for the Tulsa Parks department. Tulsa's involvement with the NAYS association goes back to 1990.
"We do certifications in tee ball and baseball, and that's a big group. [We also certify] basketball, tackle football, flag football, soccer, and we've had some in cheerleading and gymnastics."
It's all youth," advised Price.
The fact that Tulsa ranks in the top 10 out of more than 3,000 chapters speaks volumes for Tulsa's future coaches as well as Price's administration. Membership indeed has its privileges.
The past year alone, 922 coaches were certified in town. The numbers are mind-boggling and seem to be on a steady upswing.
"I don't know that it's been recent but certainly over the years [participation] has increased," said Price.
There are several reasons for the swell in membership. At Tulsa Parks, membership is required.
"The referees asked to see my card," said card-carrying member and local youth coach Tom Lehman (not the pro golfer). He was recently certified for basketball and soccer.
Although headquarters would prefer the face-to-face interactive training sessions, the online process is favored by many.
"I've done it both ways now. For each sport there is an addition bit of information," said Lehman.
He attended the basketball training session in person. A few months later, he took the online course for his soccer card.
"I already had the basics. I found them both to be very helpful. It sure made it easy to fit into a busy schedule," he said of the online interactive course.
Price recommends the online option. Parents are already giving up their time to help the kids, and having access to certification at their leisure online is invaluable. The online process is one of the main reasons Tulsa's membership has rapidly grown. That and the fact that it is required.
"I didn't even realize how many coaches we have certified. We encourage a lot of them to do it online. For one thing, it is at the coach's convenience," Price said, "because they don't have to be at a workshop at a set time and set place."
"They called me from NAYS and said 'Do you know how many coaches you have certified?' No not really," laughed Price. "That's good to know--it's working."
Visit HYPERLINK "http://www.nays.org"; www.nays.org for more information.
Golf is an amazing sport. One wayward tee shot off the first tee in his second round and Tiger Woods was cooked. The British Open Championship had enough star power on the weekend to make for a fantastic golfing experience sans Woods.
Tiger didn't finish poorly, mind you. He just wasn't the core of the discussion going into Sunday's final round. When his final round ended, he was asked what the hardest part about going for three straight Open Championships was.
"The golf course," laughed Tiger in typical Woods fashion. His ball striking and iron play may not have been up to his lofty standards this past week, but his robotic responses were dead on.
The stars are aligning for his impending epic victory at Southern Hills in a couple of weeks.
If the PGA Championship sticks to its game plan, we should be in store for a tournament of the ages. The PGA tends to let the players decide the champion rather than the course. Expect to see good shots rewarded with spectacular birdies.
Tulsa is willing. The PGA is ready. Is Tiger able to make history in T-Town?
Tragedy on the Field
Shifting gears to a somber dose of reality, Tulsa Drillers hitting instructor and first base coach Mike Coolbaugh was struck in the head by a line drive last Sunday night. Upon arrival to a local Little Rock Arkansas hospital, he was pronounced dead.
Coolbaugh joined the Drillers' staff less than one month ago. He spent time with the Drillers as a player back in 1996. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and the Drillers organization.
This is the type of incident we typically view from afar. When it happens to one of your own, it really hits home. He is survived by his wife, Mandy, and two young sons, Joseph and Jacob, all of San Antonio. Mandy Coolbaugh is expecting a third child in October.
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