By Superintendent Wayne Weber
My evenings and weekends these days are often spent in gym bleachers. Those of you who are sports enthusiasts or have young children are probably experiencing the same thing. I’ve been involved in organized athletics in one way, shape, or form for almost 40 years, but it wasn’t until I became a parent of an athlete that my eyes were truly opened to the world of sports.
A few days ago, a prospective open enrollment parent asked why the Rosendale-Brandon School District is so successful. He seemed to have an understanding that we have a good school system, but he was really curious why our sports programs were consistently so competitive. There are a number of reasons why this is true, but I truly believe that behind the success of a program there is a network of volunteers who dedicate countless hours to our youth, whether it is coaching, officiating, working concession stands, serving on boards, etc. A perusal through Facebook on any given weekend reveals the many successes the youth in our community are experiencing. It’s amazing the opportunity our children have to participate in youth programs. That participation ultimately benefits our middle and high school sports teams. Our children are learning that hard work and dedication pay positive dividends. Hopefully, they are also learning about donating their time and talents to others. As both a parent and superintendent, I thank all of our youth volunteers for the work they do on behalf of our children.
Another thing that stands out to me is the role youth programs play in shaping our childrens’ character. The reality is that the majority of our youth program participants will never participate in high school athletics. Of those that do participate, even a smaller number will ever participate in organized sports after high school. However, through these experiences, our children learn lifelong lessons about winning, losing, working hard, and working together.
I sat through a youth basketball game a few weeks ago where fans and coaches from both teams were chastising players and officials. After the game, my son was upset and said our team lost because of the officials. I told him from my standpoint, we lost because we could not seem to score. That happens sometimes. Sometimes your best effort isn’t good enough. How you respond at those times says a lot about your character. How you respond when others make mistakes also says a lot about your character. I’m not really sure that was what he wanted to hear or if it sunk in, but my hope is that he learns to accept responsibility for his own actions and realizes that people do sometimes make mistakes. That includes players, coaches, parents...and officials.
As we walked out of that gym after the game, I read a sign hanging on the wall near the entrance which read, “Your child’s success or lack of success in sports does not indicate what kind of parent you are. But having an athlete that is coachable, respectful, a great teammate, mentally tough, resilient and tries their best IS a direct reflection of your parenting.” That hit home for me. Ask any parent or community member if they believe it’s important for youth to be teachable, respectful, resilient and hard-working, and you will hear “Yes!” 100% of the time. Hopefully, as parents, coaches, and fans, that is what we are modeling for our youth when they are on the mat, court or field. And when those traits aren’t being demonstrated, we don’t accept it as okay. We’ve all sat next to an obnoxious fan who seems to officiate or coach a perfect game from the bleachers. It happens, but that is not the Spartan Way. As a teacher and administrator, I always tried to impart on my students that we’re better than that type of behavior. Now I am trying to do the same as a parent.
It’s all part of our Spartan Pride!