From the bleachers, views can be skewed

Anytime you step into a leadership role, such as coaching, you open yourself up to criticism. Some deserved, but most not. You learn to step back, listen, and change the things you feel warrant change. I have learned a long time ago that you will never make everybody happy, so just get over it and move on. You may not agree with decisions and actions, but please take every opportunity to thank them for taking the time to coach. Do not judge them on the few hours you see them in action on game day. They spend many more hours preparing practice plans, communicating schedules, participating in clinics and practicing than they do coaching on game day.

The most difficult criticism for a coach comes from people who have never seen the sideline as a head coach. You always have the Monday morning QB banter, that is to be expected and comes with the territory. Real easy to do from the stands.

Basketball is unique in that it is played at a very fast pace with few breaks and multiple decisions being made on every possession. Coaches must think quickly and be decisive with little time for error. Offensive and defensive switches are made instantly. There are no breaks between pitches, huddles between plays, opportunities to skate off for a line change, or chances to catch your breath while the ball is on the offensive or defensive side of the field. This takes nothing away from those sports, it is merely stating that the games are played and coached differently.

I have been around Coach Klasen for a short time in comparison to his 30-plus years of coaching and 400-plus wins. In that time, I have experienced a coach who is demanding but fair as he strives for excellence in himself and players. I love the following quote from Vince Lombardi, “We will strive for perfection, knowing that we will never achieve it, but we will find excellence along the way.” As mentioned in Mr. Werner’s article, Randy’s teams consistently win in the competitive NW Suburban Conference. They are competitive due in great part to his insistence on doing things correctly and driving that home with well prepared and challenging practices. Does he become frustrated with mistakes that occur after spending hours in practice working on things? Yes.

Is he overwhelming, in my opinion? No.

There are going to be times in life when we get chewed out. I would guess that a high percentage of the time, if we look in the mirror, we would say to ourselves that we deserved it.

I would like to challenge our kids to not become “dejected,” but come back tough. Don’t show “negative body language,” show some mental toughness and challenge yourself to do better. Take the initiative to ask what they can do to become better and not have to deal with “fierce gestures.”

Coach Wooden was the benchmark all coaches should strive to be like. His influence was far reaching. In my readings I recall Coach Wooden admitting to being critical to his players when needed. He also states that his most effective coaching tool was the bench. There are many reasons for being benched. Fans become frustrated but really have little clue as to why it occurs. I would debate that if players are benched for “extended periods of time,” it is most likely due to the fact that another player is giving quality minutes. Don’t foster feeling sorry for yourself, foster being a team player and celebrate the success.

Winning is not everything, but the main reason we compete is to win. The best players play. I don’t know of any high school coaches who don’t play their best players. Show me a high school coach who plays their favorites in place of the better player, and I will show you an unsuccessful coach. If you are not playing, figure out why and get to work to beat out the player ahead of you. I believe Randy offers every player the opportunity to do just that. Don’t make excuses, work hard and get results.

Instead of writing about criticism, bad influences and dejected expressions, let’s consider working harder, mental toughness, and coming back tough. These are the traits I see Coach Klasen trying to instill in his players. From my viewpoint, there are many more positive things being taught than negative.

What I heard at this year’s banquet was the team would not be participating in next year’s Tartan Classic over the Christmas break. This was a compromise to give families opportunity to travel.

I also heard the theme of challenging players to work hard in the off season, passion, commitment and leadership skills. Qualities I consider to be applicable for the rest of one’s adult life.

I will end with practicing what I preach. Thanks Coach! — Mitch Weege, Elk River

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