M.O.M.: My Opinionated Mouth
Leah Cauthron

Little League, underwear and FAFSA...oh my!

Posted Friday, June 17, 2011, at 1:36 PM
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  • In reverse order...

    I agree with the FAFSA comments, especially if you don't get to claim your son as a dependent. Of course just because FAFSA will come up with a "family contribution" does not mean it's the family that has to make that contribution. Also, in the era when you and I went to school, a college education was not that far out of reach. I was fortunate that my folks were able and willing to pay for my college, but they pointed out that there was $X in the account -- it would cover public ed at USD but not a private school. I'd end up with loans there if scholarships didn't cover it. I did opt for the most affordable choice and actually had money left over at the end. My daughter is aware of her options and is already looking into an engineering school in NYC with free tuition. Now if she can raise her grades to get in!

    I'm staying out of the underwear wars for now, except to say that I do wish there was some community standard for public attire just to make our public places more palatable. On the other hand, sanctioned rules could discriminate based on culture, religion and other protected factors so it would have to be carefully crowded. Look at that -- I didn't stay out entirely. I'm done now though.

    Little League -- I barely have time to assistant coach my/our own son's team. I don't think I would have time to get him to practice and games and coach yet another team. So I'm not sure of my position on coaching my own child. I feel I gave equal or better attention to boys other than my own. I feel there were a couple of team fathers who had a lot of opinions about the way things were done, whom I notice did not actually volunteer to coach themselves. Their input and help would have been greatly appreciated.

    I think there are numerous issues that can happen with coaches in general. I enjoyed getting to know the boys and hanging out with them as I helped with batting order, etc. in the dugout. It was extraneous issues that put me off, to the point I will even say that I am unlikely to coach again based on this season's experience. I would address those privately if you're curious. I wish there were more community members who had the time and inclination to volunteer so that fewer coaches were also parents. This would benefit the kids -- to form relationships with other (screened) adults in the community.

    I was surprised in the 1st/2nd grade level at the number of bigger, older-seeming, experienced, aggressive boys. I didn't know there were so many boys bigger than mine. Are there that many kindergarten red-shirts around so that there were nine year olds playing seven year olds?

    I do feel there's a balance between "just having fun" and taking it too seriously that has not been met. "Just having fun" doesn't always teach the fundamentals very well, and doesn't do enough to encourage the kids to work hard and do their very best. Taking it too seriously is discouraging and sends the wrong message. I'm not sure what the answer is.

    -- Posted by AmyPeterson on Fri, Jun 17, 2011, at 9:06 PM
  • *carefully crowded* should be "carefully considered."

    -- Posted by AmyPeterson on Fri, Jun 17, 2011, at 9:07 PM
  • Won't comment on your questions 2 and 3.

    Amy, sorry you have had a less than positive experience coaching this year.

    Drafting in the t-ball leagues is supposed to be random, you pull slips of paper and turn them over to find whose name you grabbed. I'm sure that there are ways to circumvent the system but I think that it would be more trouble then it's worth.

    As to size there is a significant range of ages when you base a system on grade levels. Some kids are enrolled into school as soon as possible and are young for their grade while others are held out for an additional year and are older then their grade level peers. May be more accurate to switch to birthdays on a developmental basis?

    Aggression is a natural by-product of our sports systems and unless a game is played in a vacuum away from parents, peers, and friends; all players will compare their abilities and the capability of their team to the competition. It's up to the coaches and parents to control that behavior.

    As to teaching the fundamentals, baseball is a game of repeating skill sets. Catching, throwing, and batting are all skills that require a significant amount of reps to be ingrained in muscle memory and unfortunately, with fewer neighborhood games and lack of catch time with parents, these skills are not being developed at home or on the playground. The three weeks of practice (rain willing) is not enough time to compensate for those players that do not play catch and this disparity is highly visible in games.

    Baseball is a sedentary game that requires players to sit still for long periods of time and than execute a response (with a duration of seconds) to a specific situation. In t ball, some positions will receive 75% to 85% of the "touches" available so teams that don't rotate will have kids that may not touch a ball during the season. For some coaches, it's difficult to put a player into a high "touch" position that has not performed to the coaches level of satisfaction.

    For my team, we rotate players each inning to give everyone a chance of success.

    -- Posted by Headhunter on Mon, Jun 20, 2011, at 6:11 PM
  • I've heard that there has been much talk on the Little League subject although not many have the courage to state their opinions here. Just the fact that directors are being called about my blog proves that purposeful "stacking" is happening and those that are practicing it don't want it done away with. I will change my position having parents coach. Let parents coach but only 2 per team and draft like the MYFL does and draft a team, draw for which team you get and then add your kid to your team. As for those who would like to quiet me...I will remind you that I too am a citizen of this country and am entitled to my freedom of speech. Instead of whining to the directors, write a comment here.

    -- Posted by Leah Cauthron on Mon, Jun 20, 2011, at 9:21 PM
  • I cant tell you how many times the directors drove by my house to watch my t-ball age child play catch with his dad so that they could stack a team that doesnt even keep score.

    -- Posted by spencer lover on Wed, Jun 22, 2011, at 10:37 AM
  • Leah, at first I just thought here is a parent that must have had a bad not at the park or whatever when I read your blog the first time, but since you seem convinced there is some kind of little league concpiracy going on, I will try to shed some light on things. Each team can have 2 coaches that get together with their repsective kids and that team will start with 2 kids. Now if the sponsor is not one of the coaches but has a child, that child will also be placed on the team the parent sponsors so some teams might start with 3 kids (4 with twins). If that sponsor/parent helps the other coaches, that is his/her perogative and God bless them because we need all hands on deck especially at practices. Those are league rules. As for the draft, Headhunter explains it correctly, names are placed on paper slips and drawn from a hat. Being random, sometimes, you will get have's and have-not's, its random. In the some divisions, if they don't do this, they will do like the league I coach in, where all the coaches, not just a special few or directors, will make sure that each team has an equal amount of pitchers and older kids to ensure the teams are as equal as we can and it works very well, every coach in our division will tell you, any game they lost or won could have went the other way very easily and this goes for me too and our team has only 1 win, but we have had some great games and the boys are having fun knowing that every game they have a chance to win. Those are the facts and rules of the SYBSA.

    Now to comment directly with regards to your initial and subsequent comments. It is not a lack of courage that has limited the comments, I think it is a matter of the comments and accusations you make are strictly emotional and are simply conspiracy theory esque. As a director and coach (of a team my son is on) I know the coaches in the division our team is in and the other coaches throughout the league give as much effort to each child that we can in the very small amount of time we get with them, but unless the kids spend time with their parent or siblings when they are not in practice, you aren't going to see much improvement, that is fact. Here's the part no one wants to talk about, not all kids are equal, the kids know it, it is the parents that sometimes have the most difficulty with it. This doesn't mean that little Billy or Jill won't ever be as good, but it takes work and more than the 1 hour once a week we as coaches get with them and this potential is exactly why we DO work with EVERY kid that we have on our teams, they ALL have potential. To be "fair" there has to be 2 parties involved, coaches, due to working with 11-13 kids for an hour, will do everything they can to teach the kids as much as they can but if that is the only exposure they get to the fundamentals or the game, there won't be much improvement, we need the people in the child's life to help.

    The softball and little league program serves over 500 kids per year so that means we also get the pleasure of dealing with over 500 parents, all of which have their own opinions which they are entitled to. The part that has generated discussion is the fact that from your blog "pillar" you throw down accusations and theories with out knowing the details of how things are setup and the rules that were followed. Then you take the you can't "quiet me" stance and hide behind your absolute freedom of speech instead of acknowledging that maybe someone had thought this through and that you and the MYFL are not the only ones that might know what they are doing. This program has been around for a long time and because a small segment that every year thinks they know better than everyone else and seem to only talk louder even when they have things explained to them, it is tough to keep directors on for more than one 2 year term. Why would anyone that is donating their valuable time subject themselves putting up with this especailly if you actually went out and talked with any kid at the park on any given night, they would tell you they are having a BLAST. Fortunatley, every year there are people that even though they know it is a thankless task, they will sign up as a director to help continue the enjoyment the KIDS are having and deal with this type of "whining" as you put it and you have blessed us with such a perfect example of.

    There's my comment written here, not whining to others.


    Jake Heying

    Parent, Coach, & Little League Director

    -- Posted by BitOfCommonSense on Wed, Jun 22, 2011, at 12:08 PM
  • Thanks Jake for having the courage to address the issue and to use you name too. Asking questions is the only way that positive change can happen. No one system works for everything but I do believe that all of it can be improved upon. My kids have all had positive experiences playing little league here in Spencer. They have been on championship teams, mediocre teams and really bad teams. Please note that I never specifically noted Spencer Little League. I have nieces that play elsewhere and the issue is worse there.

    -- Posted by Leah Cauthron on Wed, Jun 22, 2011, at 3:37 PM
  • Leah,

    just because you have an opinion, doesn't mean you should spout if off here without any regard for facts under the guise of free speech. As Jake correctly pointed out there are rules for drafting players...I won't go into that again. You mentioned MYFL and their draft as an example that the Little League should try to mirror. You are kidding, right...or are you just spouting again...or is it that your husband is a director for the MYFL. This past year on MYFL draft night one team showed up with 6 coaches, all with sons who are considered to be good athletes. This meant that before anyone picked a single player, their roster was already one half full with "stacked" athletes. I'm not a coach or director with either org...just a parent of a young player who is having a ball (pun intended) in Little League. There is a fantastic bunch of caring volunteers in our Little League org and you should be praising their efforts, not picking them apart. Shame on you. You could be doing so much good with this forum but instead you try to divide our community.

    I also got a chuckle when after Jake put you in your place that you back peddled and tried to tell us that you weren't specifically talking about Spencer Little League. Open mouth...insert foot.

    -- Posted by winterrules on Wed, Jun 22, 2011, at 4:35 PM
  • Jake didn't put me in my place, he merely proved in his indignation of me that this is a valid issue that can be improved upon. My opinion comes from years of observation and conversation with other parents who are not just parents but have participated in the process. And I appreciate anyone willing to "spout" as I "spout" while choosing to not hide behind anonymity. As far as the MYFL, I believe you are mistaken but I will let someone with greater knowledge of that address the issue.

    -- Posted by Leah Cauthron on Thu, Jun 23, 2011, at 9:23 AM
  • My indignation is not for you personally, but you prove the exact point that I made earlier, that every year there are individuals that insist that no matter what you say, they either will talk louder than you or will ensure that they have the last word because in their mind, that makes them right. Then when another person refutes another one of your claims with regards to the MYFL draft, you turn around and claim that because of my "courage" and my "indignation" that you were actually proven right when in reality I had proven that you didn't have the facts needed to make claims about how the league is run and that your theory that the "practice" of stacking has been going on and will continue to go on is completely false. What I do find interesting is how, and I am not sure if you do this intentionally to increase readership of your blog or not, but how both times you were called on the accuracy of your claims, about the little league or MYFL,that instead of acknowledging your error you try spin things away from the facts and answer defensively about how people hide behind anonymity and it is your right to complain due to free speech. To me this is very informative. Usually when people know what they are talking about and take a stance, they stick to the topic and to try to make their point. When poeple start make claims that they really don't know much about, they usually take your tactic of attacking the other person instead of arguing the facts because they have found out they are in a losing battle and this, in their mind, makes them look better, the adults' version of "I know your are but what am I". For this reason, I think it has been established that you might have had a genuine concern for the program but trying to convince you or waiting for you to admit you might have been off in your thinking will never happen so I consider this issue handled as best we can. I am extremely happy to hear your kids have had postive experiences and only hope that your kids CONTINUE to have a great time at the ball park even with the unfair practices you claim are going on out there. PLAY BALL!

    -- Posted by BitOfCommonSense on Thu, Jun 23, 2011, at 3:46 PM
  • I applaud the Spencer little league coaches and directors.

    I do have quetions about the MYFL though. Why is the cost for each player so high? In the beginning when it was a non-profit org. the kids were insured and now they arent. It cant be the equipment because the cost of the original equipment was not paid when the owner filed bancrupcy. Then the league went from a non-profit org. to an appearantly lucrative bussiness for its owner. I think somebody found out they could make a buck here.

    I do not know if the directors are getting paid to run the league but I know the owners are making money.

    -- Posted by donnajeanne on Fri, Jul 1, 2011, at 4:55 PM
  • I do not know one thing about MYFL, but I can guarantee that Spencer Youth Baseball & Softball directors do not get paid! Although from January - June we all put in 20 - 40 hours on top of our regular jobs and coaching! We do it to benefit the children and make the program the best it can be for years to come! SYBSA is a non profit organization! I thank you for applauding the directors' efforts!

    -- Posted by mybloodrunsgreen on Tue, Jul 5, 2011, at 4:16 PM
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