SPASH's Tom Drohner heads to WFSCA Hall of Fame

The numbers are too hard to ignore. In 20 seasons as the Stevens Point Area Senior High softball coach, Tom Drohner has put up some gaudy ones.

He owns a 468-65 career record. There are the eight WIAA Division 1 state championships, including an unprecedented four in a row from 2001-04, and a state runner-up in 2000.

Drohner's teams have won 19 Wisconsin Valley Conference titles in his 20 seasons at the helm. Let's not forget the 17 regional championships and 14 trips to the state tournament.

His résumé caught the attention of the Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association which selected Drohner as part of the 2018 Hall of Fame class.

He'll be joined in the four-member class by Cindy Suess (Verona, UW-Oshkosh, Oshkosh North), Don Bjelland (Grantsburg) and Doug Mock (Oakfield). The induction ceremony will take place Feb. 24 at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells.

"Honestly, I was excited and humbled," Drohner said of his reaction upon hearing he would enter the Hall of Fame. "When I heard the news, I sat back and thought about some stuff we've done, and I think it's even a cooler accomplishment."

Contrary to popular opinion, Drohner insisted he didn't do his signature fist pump when informed of being elected to the hall.

He was driven to take the SPASH program to the pinnacle of the state high school softball world. Drohner was more determined to make sure the Panthers stayed at or near the top.

In just his third season at the helm he led the Panthers to their first state championship game since 1989. What followed was a remarkable four-year state championship run that has yet to be equaled in any division in Wisconsin.

"Winning four straight state championships really put us on the map as far as being an elite program," Drohner said. "That made me extremely proud.

"If we're not a championship team, we're in the mix always. That's what I wanted to be able to do. To have the program running on all cylinders every year is something I'm super proud of."

"A lot of people bought into what we were doing and believed in us," Drohner said. "We were able to get to the top of the mountain, and the next thing is everyone wants to be a part of it..."

Drohner gave much of the credit for his success, and that of his softball program, to a littany of people in the community associated with softball.

The list includes youth coaches, parents and ultimately all the players who have passed through the SPASH program during his tenure.

"A lot of people bought into what we were doing and believed in us," Drohner said. "We were able to get to the top of the mountain, and the next thing is everyone wants to be a part of it. It's all about kids stepping up and doing what they need to do."

He's helped develop 48 first-team WFSCA All-State players, a pair of Gatorade state Players of the Year, three WFSCA Players of the Year and 12 Valley Players of the Year.

He has been named the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Coach of the Year in Wisconsin four times (2004, 2008, 2009 and 2011).

"It just means all the hard work and dedication by players, coaches and families has paid off," Drohner said. "It's been a great career here so far. I'm proud to be head Stevens Point softball coach and want to keep it rolling."

Source Article: Stevens Point Journal

ESPN’s 2018 College Softball Television Schedule

Date   Time   Game   Network
Fri, Feb 9   5:30 p.m.   Incarnate Word at Texas   LHN
  8 p.m.   Wisconsin at Texas   LHN
Sat, Feb 10   2 p.m.   Colorado State at Texas   LHN
4:30 p.m. Wisconsin at Texas LHN
Sun, Feb 11   11 a.m.   Colorado State vs. Wisconsin   LHN
  1:30 p.m.   Incarnate Word at Texas   LHN
Wed, Feb 21   6 p.m.   No. 5 Washington at Texas   LHN
Fri, Feb 23   10 a.m.   Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech   LHN
  12:30 p.m.   Virginia Tech vs. No. 16 Michigan   LHN
  3 p.m.   Ohio State vs. Wichita State   LHN
  6 p.m.   No. 16 Michigan at Texas   LHN
  8:30 p.m.   Wichita State at Texas   LHN
Sat, Feb 24   10:30 a.m.   No. 16 Michigan vs. Virginia Tech   LHN
  4 p.m.   Virginia Tech at Texas   LHN
  6:30 p.m.   Ohio State at Texas   LHN
  9 p.m.   Ohio State vs. Wichita State   LHN
Sun, Feb 25   Noon   Virginia Tech vs. Wichita State   LHN
  2:30 p.m.   No. 16 Michigan at Texas   LHN
Wed, Feb 28   7 p.m.   TAMU CC at Texas   LHN
Fri, Mar 2   5:30 p.m.   No. 7 Arizona at Texas   LHN
Sat, Mar 3   Noon   No. 7 Arizona at Texas   LHN
Sun, Mar 4   Noon   No. 7 Arizona at Texas   LHN
Tues, Mar 6   7 p.m.   Boston College at No. 15 Ole Miss   SEC Network
Sat, Mar 10   1 p.m.   Arkansas at No. 25 Georgia   SEC Network
  3:30 p.m.   No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 9 Texas A&M   SEC Network
  6 p.m.   No. 13 Kentucky at No. 2 Florida   SEC Network
  8:30 p.m.   No. 14 Auburn at No. 8 LSU   SEC Network
Sun, Mar 11   Noon   No. 13 Kentucky at No. 2 Florida   SEC Network
  2 p.m.   No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 9 Texas A&M   SEC Network
  5 p.m.   No. 14 Auburn at No. 8 LSU   ESPN2
  6 p.m.   Arkansas at No. 25 Georgia   ESPNU
Mon, Mar 12   7 p.m.   Arkansas at No. 25 Georgia   SEC Network
Tue, Mar 13   6 p.m.   Texas at South Carolina   SEC Network
Wed, Mar 14   7 p.m.   Indiana at No. 13 Kentucky   SEC Network
Sat, Mar 17   Noon   No. 8 LSU at No. 13 Kentucky   SEC Network
  5 p.m.   Mississippi State at Missouri   SEC Network
  8 p.m.   No. 10 Alabama at No. 14 Auburn   ESPNU
Sun, Mar 18   1 p.m.   Mississippi State at Missouri   SEC Network
  4:30 p.m.   No. 8 LSU at No. 13 Kentucky   ESPNU
  6 p.m.   No. 10 Alabama at No. 14 Auburn   SEC Network
Mon, Mar 19   7 p.m.   No. 8 LSU at No. 13 Kentucky   SEC Network
Wed, Mar 21   7 p.m.   Central Arkansas at Mississippi State   SEC Network
  7 p.m.   Texas State at Texas   LHN
Fri, Mar 23   5:30 p.m.   Kansas at Texas   LHN
Sat, Mar 24   1 p.m.   Kansas at Texas   LHN
  3 p.m.   No. 11 Tennessee at South Carolina   ESPN2
  5 p.m.   No. 9 Texas A&M at No. 2 Florida   ESPN2
  8 p.m.   No. 13 Kentucky at No. 14 Auburn   SEC Network
Sun, Mar 25   Noon   Kansas at Texas   LHN
  2 p.m.   North Carolina at Notre Dame   ESPNU
  7 p.m.   No. 9 Texas A&M at No. 2 Florida   ESPN2
Mon, Mar 26   7 p.m.   No. 9 Texas A&M at No. 2 Florida   SEC Network
Tue, Mar 27   7 p.m.   Stephen F. Austin at Texas   LHN
Wed, Mar 28   7 p.m.   Furman at South Carolina   SEC Network
Sat, Mar 31   5 p.m.   No. 10 Alabama at No. 13 Kentucky   ESPN2
      No. 25 Georgia at No. 11 Tennessee   SEC Network
  7 p.m.   No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 12 Baylor   ESPN
Sun, April 1   Noon   South Carolina at No. 9 Texas A&M   ESPNU
  6 p.m.   No. 25 Georgia at No. 11 Tennessee   SEC Network
Mon, April 2   7 p.m.   No. 25 Georgia at No. 11 Tennessee   SEC Network
Wed, April 4   7 p.m.   Louisville at No. 13 Kentucky   SEC Network
  7 p.m.   UTSA at Texas   LHN
Fri, April 6   4:30 p.m.   North Carolina A&T at Florida A&M   ESPNU
  6:30 p.m.   No. 11 Tennessee at No. 14 Auburn   ESPNU
  8:30 p.m.   Texas A&M at Mississippi State   ESPNU
Sat, April 7   Noon   Samford at Texas   LHN
  1 p.m.   No. 2 Florida at No. 10 Alabama   ESPN2
  2:30 p.m.   Samford at Texas   LHN
  3 p.m.   No. 7 Arizona at No. 3 Oregon   ESPN2
      No. 11 Tennessee at No. 14 Auburn   ESPN2
  6 p.m.   Missouri at No. 25 Georgia   ESPNU
Sun, April 8   Noon   Samford at Texas   LHN
  3 p.m.   No. 2 Florida at No. 10 Alabama   ESPN2
      No. 9 Texas A&M at Mississippi State   SEC Network
  5 p.m.   Liberty at Longwood   ESPNU
Mon, April 9   7 p.m.   No. 2 Florida at No 10 Alabama   SEC Network
Wed, April 11   6 p.m.   Michigan State at No. 16 Michigan   ESPNU
  8 p.m.   No. 2 Florida at No. 6 Florida State   ESPN2
Fri, Apr 13   6 p.m.   No. 8 LSU at No. 11 Tennessee   ESPNU
  8 p.m.   Texas Tech at Texas   LHN
  10:30 p.m.   No. 4 UCLA at No. 7 Arizona   ESPNU
Sat, Apr 14   Noon   No. 10 Alabama at Arkansas   ESPNU
  1 p.m.   No. 8 LSU at No. 11 Tennessee   ESPN2
  2 p.m.   Texas Tech at Texas   LHN
  3 p.m.   No. 13 Kentucky at No. 9 Texas A&M   ESPN2
Sun, Apr 15   Noon   Rutgers at No. 16 Michigan   ESPNU
  Noon   Texas Tech at Texas   LHN
  3 p.m.   No. 13 Kentucky at No. 9 Texas A&M   SEC Network
  7 p.m.   Mississippi State at No. 15 Ole Miss   ESPN2
Mon, Apr 16   7 p.m.   NC State at North Carolina   ESPNU
      Mississippi State at No. 15 Ole Miss   SEC Network
Tue, Apr 17   5:30 p.m.   No. 12 Baylor at Texas   LHN
Wed, Apr 18   7 p.m.   Southern Miss at No. 10 Alabama   SEC Network
Fri, Apr 20   5:30 p.m.   Missouri at South Carolina   SEC Network
  5:30 p.m.   No. 21 OSU at Texas   LHN
Sat, Apr 21   Noon   Missouri at South Carolina   SEC Network
  2 p.m.   No. 21 OSU at Texas   LHN
  9:30 p.m.   No. 5 Washington at No. 4 UCLA   ESPNU
Sun, Apr 22   Noon   No. 20 Tulsa at Houston   ESPNU
  Noon   No. 21 OSU at Texas   LHN
  3 p.m.   No. 11 Tennessee at No. 10 Alabama   ESPN2
  4 p.m.   Nebraska at No. 18 Minnesota   ESPNU
  5 p.m.   No. 9 Texas A&M at No. 8 LSU   SEC Network
Mon, April 23   7 p.m.   Louisville at No. 6 Florida State   ESPNU
      No. 11 Tennessee at No. 10 Alabama   SEC Network
Wed, April 25   7 p.m.   Texas Southern at Texas   LHN
Fri, April 27   5:30 p.m.   No. 8 LSU at No. 2 Florida   SEC Network
Sat, April 28   Noon   No. 8 LSU at No. 2 Florida   ESPN2
      Mississippi State at South Carolina   SEC Network
  2 p.m.   Texas at No. 1 Oklahoma   ESPN2
      No. 14 Auburn at No. 9 Texas A&M   SEC Network
  4 p.m.   No. 3 Oregon at No. 5 Washington   ESPN2
      No. 15 Ole Miss at Arkansas   SEC Network
  6 p.m.   No. 10 Alabama at No. 25 Georgia   SEC Network
Sun, April 29   Noon   No. 8 LSU at No. 2 Florida   ESPN2
  2 p.m.   Texas at No. 1 Oklahoma   ESPN2
  4 p.m.   No. 3 Oregon at No. 5 Washington   ESPN2
  5 p.m.   No. 15 Ole Miss at Arkansas   ESPNU
Mon, April 30   7 p.m.   No. 15 Ole Miss at Arkansas   SEC Network
Wed, May 2   7 p.m.   Incarnate Word at Texas   LHN
Fri, May 4   7 p.m.   Bases Loaded   SEC Network
Sat, May 5   1 p.m.   No. 9 Texas A&M at No. 10 Alabama   SEC Network
  3 p.m.   No. 2 Florida at Missouri   SEC Network
  7 p.m.   No. 21 OSU at No. 1 Oklahoma   ESPNU
Sun, May 6   2 p.m.   Penn State at No. 18 Minnesota   ESPNU
  3 p.m.   No. 2 Florida at Missouri   SEC Network
  5 p.m.   Arkansas at No. 8 LSU   SEC Network
Wed, May 9   Noon   SEC Tournament – First Round   SEC Network
  2:30 p.m.   SEC Tournament – First Round   SEC Network
  5 p.m.   SEC Tournament – First Round   SEC Network
  7:30 p.m.   SEC Tournament – First Round   SEC Network
Thu, May 10   Noon   SEC Tournament – Second Round   SEC Network
  2:30 p.m.   SEC Tournament – Second Round   SEC Network
  5 p.m.   SEC Tournament – Second Round   SEC Network
  7:30 p.m.   SEC Tournament – Second Round   SEC Network
Fri, May 11   3 p.m.   SEC Softball Semifinal   ESPNU
  5:30 p.m.   SEC Softball Semifinal   ESPNU
  10:30 p.m.   UC Riverside at CSU Fullerton   ESPNU
Sat, May 12   Noon   American Softball Championship   ESPN2
  Noon   ACC Softball Championship   ESPN
  8 p.m.   SEC Softball Championship   ESPN

Source Article

The 11 Rules of Teaching Kids a Sport

Note from the Editor:  This article is from Outside Magazine and is most likely geared more towards learning to rock climb, mountain bike, etc.  But read it with an open mind and you can probably see how it also relates to many team sports, especially if your child is involved in a specialty position.  In one place in the article it even mentions pitching, so they had some team sports in mind.  Enjoy!  And you may want to consider taking your kids hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking too.

Whether it's skiing or mountain biking or camping, these guidelines will make sure you and your child get to enjoy a lifetime of adventure together

"Mama, I'm tired. I wanna stop!"

My six-year-old daughter and I were biking up a washboarded dirt road straight into the wind. Our camp was still at least half a mile away when she wailed six of the most annoying words in the history of parenting: "When are we gonna be there?"

"C'mon, you can do it!" I called encouragingly. "We're getting so close. It's just around the next corner."

Biking. Here was sport I'd loved since I was a little girl. It seemed to embody the very essence of childhood: motion and freedom and possibility. I want my daughters to love it as much as I did, and yet in that moment, when I lied straight to my daughter's tear-streaked face, I realized I might ruin biking for her forever.

As parents, we wield a mighty influence over our young chargers. We have the power to teach them how to love—or hate—a sport. It's an awesome responsibility and, frankly, a little terrifying. It's also one of the most common pitfalls of parenting: We're so passionate about something that we cram it down their throats and kill the joy for everyone. Here's how to spread the love and the skills to last a lifetime.

Start Small

Whether you're teaching a child to ride a bike, ski, swim, climb, surf, or pitch, break down the sport into smaller skills and objectives. When our older daughter was first learning to ride her bike down our short but steep gravel driveway, we began at the bottom and worked our way up, moving a few feet uphill each time. This gave her clear objectives, built confidence gradually, and kept her (mostly) from flying down at full speed and landing in a bloody heap at the bottom.

Get the Right Gear

You don't have to spend a lot, but you do want to outfit them properly and set them up for success. For biking, invest in a balance bike rather than training wheels. This will teach them to stride along on two wheels, using their feet for balance and stability, and make the transition to a pedal bike much easier. Most kids who start out on a balance or strider bike when they're two or three will be pedaling on their own by the time they're four. You can often try before you buy: When we started climbing as a family this past winter, we rented climbing shoes for the girls until we were sure the sport would stick. We sourced good, simple child harnesses from Black Diamond. Look for gear swaps to keep costs down.

Make It Fun

Now that summer vacation is here, the girls and I go bike riding most nights after dinner. It's the magic hour, when the city streets are quiet and the light is golden. We keep it playful: Sometimes they ride in their PJs. Other times, we stop at the acequia that runs along the street by their school, and on days when the irrigation ditch is flowing with water, the girls roll up their jammies and play "bridge limbo," wading under low bridges in the shin-deep water and out the other side. We've invented a game of finding all the secret passageways in Santa Fe—little alleys and hidden paths we didn't know existed—and we nickname them and link them together into looping routes that we ride, girls' choice, in different patterns and directions.

Keep the Stakes Low

Don't push kids beyond their comfort zone before they're ready. Beginner skiers don't belong on black-diamond runs, and little kids won't remember the thrill of the Class III rapid. Avoid big hazards and consequences until they have the skills and the understanding of what they're getting into.

Learn as a Family

Sometimes it's great to pick up a new sport together, where no one's the expert and you're all starting from scratch. When we joined our local climbing gym this winter, I had been rock climbing maybe a dozen times in my life but not once in the past ten years. My girls took to the gym faster than I did; from the start, they were teaching me. "Mama, you just let go and lean back!" they screamed up to me as I dangled from the auto belay, too terrified to let go and descend. "I can't!" I called back. "Trust it!" they yelled, rolling on the floor, mortified by my wimpiness but also thrilled and empowered.

Give Them a Break

On longer sports outings, my girls will often tell me they're tired, but I have this irrational fear that if we stop for too long, we'll lose our momentum and won't get going again. (Rallying kids and their gear is like herding cats.) "Just five minutes more," I'll say, hoping the girls will miraculously forget they're tired and push through their kiddy bonk. Ha. This strategy backfires pretty much every time. Pushing them when they're tired only makes them whine and fuss and ends up costing more time and tears in the end. Remember that when kids are small, their little lungs and legs don't have the stamina of an adult. Keep kids happy by taking frequent short breaks, and anticipate hunger and thirst by feeding and watering them before they reach crisis mode.

Switch Things Up

Before high school, it's rarely a good idea for kids to play the same sport year-round. Studies show it puts them at increased risk of injury and burnout. Use the change of season or the school year as an excuse to resist specialization and learn new sports.

Don't Be Too Demanding

Invite them to run, ride, or shoot hoops with you, but don't force it. This is a pro tip from Caroline Szuch, whose 13-year-old daughter, Lanie, is a champion trail runner who routinely finishes out in front of the entire pack—adults and youth alike. Szuch is a competitive ultrarunner and triathlete, but she never forced the issue with Lanie and her talented brother. "I would come back and say, ‘I had the best run. Everything was syncing.' It works almost like osmosis, and it's better than giving them a plan and pushing them," Szuch says. "You should just focus on the sensation of the sport rather than an expectation to excel or win. All that pushing to win works against kids tenfold."

Tell It to Them Straight

Don't tell them the road is flat if it's gently climbing. In other words, don't downplay the challenges. Doing so is a natural if misguided impulse. Instead, tell it to them straight. Explain how far it really is, and explain what they need to do to be successful. Kids develop seriously astute BS meters and, like my daughter Maisy, will call you out on it every time. Underestimating, exaggerating, or outright lying will only cost you your credibility. Likewise, don't patronize with false praise. "Mama, don't tell me I'm crushing it when I'm going slow," Maisy has told me more than once.

Outsource Instruction

This isn't lazy—it's strategic. Kids are often more open to learning, less likely to whine, and more apt to stick it out without their parents around, and instructors are more likely to keep their cool when kids fuss or resist. My husband, Steve, and I taught both our daughters to ski before they turned two. It was purely a lark to see if they could balance on skis while gliding slowly down a slope with almost no pitch. They sucked their pacifiers the whole time and cried to go in for hot cocoa after 20 minutes. Cool. After their first season on skis, we splurged on ski school a couple times each winter. Learning from other adults gave them confidence and independence on the slopes, other viewpoints and techniques, and they always came back to us having mastered new skills.

Follow Their Lead

If you were a youth soccer star but your daughter's way into curling, go with it. Give her the opportunity to love your passion and the freedom to choose her own. This was the best advice my doctor gave me after our oldest daughter was born. "Just bring her along everywhere with you, include her in your life," he told me sagely. "Everywhere?" I asked. She was only three days old, and I was panicked about how to keep her safe and alive for the rest of her life. "Everywhere," he said. "Just follow her lead. And whatever you do, don't look up anything on the internet."

Source Article

'Physically and emotionally, I'm drained': Resigning MN coach points finger at problematic parents

Brainerd Warriors head boys basketball coach Scott Stanfield is a retired police officer, and with one comment may have summarized the feelings of many high school coaches across the state.

"I go from being a cop to this, and it's one stressful job to another and it's time for a break," Stanfield said. "Coaching was worse. Coaching has been way worse.

"If you win, it doesn't matter. If you lose, it doesn't matter. If their kid doesn't get enough playing time -- look out."

Stanfield's frustrations are nothing new in the high school sports world. For the man in his seventh season as the Warriors' head coach, and 22nd season coaching in the program, those frustrations reached a climax.

At the end of last week, Brainerd High School activities director Charlie Campbell sent out a letter explaining this would be Stanfield's last year. Stanfield and his entire coaching staff will resign following this season.

The reason -- some parents.

According to the letter: "It is hard for any of our coaches, including coach Stanfield, to find joy in this vocation when met with a general dissatisfaction, anger and/or hostility from an increasing number of parents."

Stanfield said it started last year and has spilled over into this season.

"It was after an away game, and over the year it just kind of hit a boiling point, and it was time to re-evaluate what we're doing as a school, maybe as a staff, and maybe as a parental community," Stanfield said. "We're not on the same page as far as what we want our kids to get out of the experience. A lot of times with high school sports, we're running two different roads with the AAU ball and the school ball.

"Unfortunately, one side wants things done one way and the other wants it the correct way, which is about educating our kids for life beyond a sport. That's what we've tried to do."

Stanfield stressed it was just some parents, and the majority of parents he's dealt with have been great.

He said despite his many years in the program, and his immense pride in helping student athletes become better in their sport, the decision wasn't hard.

"The difficult part was with the kids coming back next year," Stanfield said. "The difficult part was telling them that, physically and emotionally, I'm drained. I need to look at things and take care of myself and ... maybe be involved somewhere else."

In his first six seasons, Stanfield accumulated a 99-66 career record, including his second season, which resulted in a 28-2 record and a spot in the Class 4A state tournament.

Brainerd suffered only two losing seasons in Stanfield's tenure, including last year's 11-16 mark.

"On the basketball side, I think we changed the culture player-wise," Stanfield said. "Unfortunately, the parental culture the last couple of years hasn't come with us and that's been very difficult.

"I want to make sure I say that the backing of the majority of the parents is real. They are behind me 100 percent. Over the last week, I've felt that from parents whose kids I coached in the past to this year's parents. The bulk of the parents are very supportive. It's just kind of a group over the last couple of years that have weighed on my mind.

"As far as playing time for a kid, it's a battle and it's unfortunate that in basketball you can't play more kids."

Campbell said he's taking this resignation personally. He likes that his programs haven't seen much coaching turnover, but when something like this occurs it is frustrating and creates a time for self-evaluation.

"The hardest part for me is just the sense of professional failure that in some ways I have failed to create an environment where coaches want to take part in," Campbell said. "I know this is one coach and his staff so I need to be careful, but it's really a personal thing. What could I have done differently? What should I be doing to create an environment that is more conducive to keeping people?

"If this doesn't beg those questions, then I wouldn't be doing well in my position."

Stanfield said he's talked to coaching friends and many feel his frustrations. This is a problem across the country, however, and the answer is elusive.

"I don't know what it will take, but unfortunately, I think it starts at a very young age," Stanfield said. "Parents feel invested once they pay their way through the AAU experience and the travel experience. They have a lot of time and money invested in that. When the kids reach high school, and they become varsity players no matter what grade -- you're basically bringing ninth- through 12th-grade players together -- all four classes together and when they see their investment in time and money not paying off, I think they get a little upset. They see it as wasted time, when in fact, if they could take a step back and look at school-based athletics and the great things a kid can get out of it."

Campbell is hoping to change the narrative and to better educate players and parents about what high school sports are for.

"Over the course of this school year we have really identified some core values for our department that we want to be the focal point of our programs," Campbell said. "We are going to hone in on these core values and we need to talk about this more often. We need to talk to kids about it with greater frequency. We need to talk to our parent groups with greater frequency. I need to get in front of our school board and talk to them and our administrative teams across the district about these core values and what are teams are doing for kids beyond the sport itself.

"Sports are our platform, but we are an extension of the classroom. I don't think we say that enough. This is part of a growing-up process."

After a 5-1 start, Brainerd is suffering through a five-game losing streak. There are 15 games left on the schedule and Stanfield said he's all in for those 15 games. He believes his players are as well.

"I gave it everything I got," Stanfield said. "This year, we're not done. The kids know that and I know that. We're going to keep fighting, but I haven't felt good for a month because of it.

"It's just not worth it. If this can help bring some attention to the fact that something needs to change, then it's worth it, but the vast majority of parents are very supportive."

Source Article

Little Children and Already Acting Mean
Children, Especially Girls, Withhold Friendship as a Weapon; Teaching Empathy

Children still in kindergarten or even younger form cliques and intentionally exclude others, say psychologists and educators who are increasingly noticing the behavior and taking steps to curb it.

Special programs are popping up in elementary schools to teach empathy as a means of stemming relational aggression, a psychological term to describe using the threat of removing friendship as a tactical weapon. Children also are being guided in ways to stand up for themselves, and to help others, in instances of social exclusion. Though both boys and girls exhibit relational aggression, it is thought to be more common among girls because they are generally more socially developed and verbal than boys.

"I think it's remarkable that we're seeing this at younger and younger ages," said Laura Barbour, a counselor at Stafford Primary School in West Linn, Ore., who has worked in elementary schools for 24 years. "Kids forget about scuffles on the playground but they don't forget about unkind words or being left out."

Relational aggression is a relatively new term in psychology, devised to distinguish it from physical aggression. There is no research showing that relational aggression is increasing or manifesting itself earlier, experts say. An increasing awareness of it, however, may be what's fueling educators' perception that it is starting earlier and becoming more common.

Little Children and Already Acting Mean

Generally thought of as a middle-school phenomenon, relational aggression is less explored among young children. Experts say it often goes under the radar because it is harder to detect than physical aggression. The behavior is similar to verbal aggression but revolves around threatening the removal of a friendship. Examples include coercing other children not to play with someone else or threatening not to invite them to your birthday party if they don't do what you want them to do.

"It actually works so well because of the child's limited cognitive abilities," said Jamie Ostrov, an associate professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Dr. Ostrov, who has conducted observational studies of relational aggression in 3-to-5-year-olds, said he has detected signs of the behavior in children as young as 2½ years. It isn't clear why some children are more inclined to relational aggression than others. There is evidence that children can learn these behaviors by observing parents or older siblings, as well as from media, Dr. Ostrov said.

Unlike physical aggression, relational aggression increases with age, often peaking in middle school, said Charisse Nixon, chair of the psychology department at Penn State Erie. Some research indicates that girls are more affected than boys by relational aggression as they perceive it as more damaging to their social relationships, she said.

Dr. Nixon's research has found that an average of 50% of children and adolescents—grades five through 12—have experienced relational aggression at least monthly. About 7% of children report experiencing physical aggression on a daily or weekly basis.

Experts say children engaging in high levels of relational aggression can have other conduct problems. It is also linked to health problems, such as depression and anxiety, Dr. Nixon said.

Laurel Klaassen, a counselor at Sibley-Ocheyedan Elementary School in Sibley, Iowa, says she has seen first-grade girls make a list of who can play with whom at recess.

"They're already thinking at that age about being popular, being the queen of the classroom, or the queen of the playground and vying for that position," said Ms. Klaassen. With boys, episodes of relational aggression seem to roll right off them, she said. "I've had girls that have come in and said to me, 'I remember back in kindergarten when so-and-so did this to me.' "

Mark Barnett, a developmental psychologist at Kansas State University, says affective empathy, or vicariously experiencing the emotions of someone else, is what needs to be encouraged to reduce relational-aggressive behavior. If a child does something negative to someone, the parent should say, "Imagine how it would feel if someone did that to you?" Dr. Barnett also recommends parents and teachers talk about feelings of characters during story time. They also need to model empathetic behavior.

Steph Jensen, a presenter at "Mean Girls" seminars run by training group AccuTrain, of Virginia Beach, Va., said she has been seeing more participation from elementary-school teachers and counselors. And Simone Marean, executive director of the Girls Leadership Institute, a nonprofit based in Oakland, Calif., said the group started a program aimed at kindergarten and first-grade children addressing relational aggression three years ago in response to parent demand.

Trudy Ludwig, a Portland, Ore.-based author of books on children's social and emotional learning who does presentations at schools, said she engages in role playing with the children to teach them both empathy and how to stand up for themselves. Last week she read one of her books, "The Invisible Boy," to kindergarten, first- and second-grade students at Sue Buel Elementary School in McMinnville, Ore., in a program funded by the PTA.

The children were invited to insult Ms. Ludwig, as she showed them how to respond in a dignified and nonviolent way. In another role-play game, she demonstrated how to be a good bystander by comforting children who are bullied or including them in a group activity.

"A lot of kids don't understand that manipulating friendships and relationships is bullying and that's what I'm trying to educate the kids and the staff about," Ms. Ludwig said.

When Ms. Ludwig asks students whether they find relational or physical aggression more hurtful, over 90% of the children will raise their hands for relational aggression, she said. "They'd rather be punched in the stomach," she said.

Experts say parent involvement is important. A 2012 study in the journal Early Child Development and Care found that parents of preschoolers believe children should seek out adult assistance for physical aggression but not relational aggression, which they think children should work out on their own.

Samantha Parent Walravens, a mother of four children in Tiburon, Calif., said she was alarmed one day in January when her daughter Genevieve, a kindergartner, woke up crying. The girl complained of a stomach ache and didn't want to go to school because some girls on the playground were being mean and wouldn't let her play with them.

"I was shocked," said Ms. Walravens, a 46-year-old writer. "You think about the mean-girl stuff going on in middle school. But in kindergarten?"

Ms. Walravens found out from the teacher that Genevieve was in a best-friends triangle with two other girls, which sometimes led to hurt feelings. The teacher "nipped it in the bud," including telling Ms. Walravens to encourage her daughter to have other friends.

"I'm trying to teach her empathy," Ms. Walravens said. "How did you feel when those little girls didn't allow you to play with them? What do you do if you see someone who's feeling sad on the playground? I always tell her you can go to me or the teacher and we will help you work it out. A lot of the stuff they can't work out on their own."

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NCAA Division I Coaches Take a Stand Against Early Recruiting

The NFCA has announced that its Division I membership has submitted a response to the NCAA on current early recruiting proposals in the legislative cycle. DI college softball coaches have asked for all recruiting contact to begin September 1 of a prospective student-athlete's ("PSA") junior year. An

Energetic Debate at Convention

Input from coaches associations was sought by the NCAA. The topic of early recruiting was vigorously discussed at the NFCA Convention in Las Vegas in December. An overwhelming consensus emerged from the Division I membership: early recruiting is not good for softball; we need to do something now. As University of Michigan head coach Carol Hutchins acknowledged, "we are spiraling in a poor direction."

The NFCA DI coaches discussed multiple early recruiting proposals, which were introduced by the Student Athlete Experience Committee ("SAEC"), as well as the relatively recent "lacrosse proposal" which was passed by the NCAA in April 2017.

The Details of the SAEC Proposals

First, the initial point of focus at the DI softball caucus was the series of proposals brought forward by the SAEC. The SAEC is part of the relatively new NCAA governance structure, charged with overseeing NCAA bylaws that affect the student athlete intercollegiate experience. This group was also involved in the NCAA student time demands legislation that went into effect this year.

One SAEC proposal set a date for when unofficial visits could begin. These are visits to college campuses taken by a PSA and her family at their own cost. The SAEC identified that the first day of classes of a PSA's sophomore year be used. Currently, no start date exists for unofficial visits. The SAEC also proposed that recruiting conversations at camps and clinics not take place until the opening day of classes of a PSA's sophomore year.

The SAEC also suggested a change in date for official visits. These trips to campus are arranged for and paid for by an institution; PSAs are allowed to take a maximum of five official visits. The SAEC proposed official visits be moved from senior year to the opening day of classes of a PSA's junior year. In theory, this could help shift the financial burden of recruiting visits from PSAs and their families to the institutions, by allowing official visits to take place earlier. Some question if this will actually be helpful for families if recruiting contact is allowed to begin in the sophomore year.

While the effort here is to attempt to slow down this process by pushing back moments of recruiting contact into the sophomore year; loopholes in the SAEC recommendation still exist. The SAEC did not address incoming telephone calls. This means that recruiting communication initiated by telephone from a PSA to a collegiate coach remains permissible at any point in time.

A Look at the Lacrosse Legislation

The approach taken by lacrosse differed from the SAEC proposal in that lacrosse legislation sets September 1 of junior year as the start date for all recruiting contact: unofficial visits, correspondence, telephone calls, and recruiting conversations at camps and clinics. The clean, streamlined legislation was well-received. Many in the lacrosse community cite the "bright line" for all recruiting contact at a later more appropriate age for PSAs as exactly what was needed to address the problem of early recruiting.

The Votes: Consensus for Change

The merits of all the proposals were debated, as well as what was in the best interest of softball. A straw poll (one vote per institution) was taken in the NFCA DI caucus and the results were overwhelming: 200-3 in favor of the lacrosse proposal, over the SAEC proposal, making September 1 of junior year the desired start date for all recruiting contact.

A follow-up survey was sent to all DI softball coaches in mid-December to capture the vote in writing. The rate of participation was an astounding 95%. The results were compelling: 80% support moving forward with September 1 of junior year as the beginning of recruiting contact for softball, with 84% of coaches favoring the structure of the lacrosse proposal over the SAEC proposal.

Coaches recognize that this change would be a major shift in softball recruiting, away from current trends with middle-schoolers verbally committing to colleges.

NCAA Action is Necessary

Everyone agrees that the only way any change will happen with early recruiting is with NCAA legislation. Outreach efforts from the NFCA to the NCAA SAEC and DI Council members began immediately after the Convention concluded.

NFCA President and University of Tennessee co-head coach Karen Weekly underscored the need for action, "The biggest problem facing college softball today is early recruiting, but it is not going to change unless the coaches and the NCAA work together to make it change."

The DI softball coaches have built consensus around a solution to the problem of early recruiting and they have asked the NCAA to amend these SAEC proposals to include that all softball recruiting contact begin on September 1 of junior year.

What You Can Do

To express your support, please consider signing our NFCA petition to stop early recruiting. More information can be found HERE.

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