Had a lively and spirited interview this AM with long-time head football coach at Greeley HS (Chappaqua, NY), Bill Tribou. As I said on WFAN, you’re not going to find many coaches who are as successful and as well-respected as Bill Tribou.
Bill, just like any HS coach these days, has had to come to grips with meddling parents. That is, sports parents who mean well, but want to make sure that the coach is on the same wave length when it comes to insuring that their kid is getting enough playing time, playing the right position, and so on. Coaches everywhere will tell you that dealing with intrusive parents is the hardest part of their job.
Based upon his experiences over the years, Coach Tribou has come up with a game-plan to head off parents. He calls it the “Three Absolutes” and he presents these mandates in a big meeting with the players and their parents, each April, long before the football season gets underway.
Those Absolutes are: Be Absolutely honest…Be Absolutely organized….and Be Absolutely Committed. Tribou spells it all out and asks the parents as he goes through each point as to whether they have any comments or questions. His approach is direct and simple: in effect, let’s get all of the questions out in the open now, so there’s no misunderstanding as we move ahead.
He makes it clear when and how parents can seek him out to talk about their son BUT that the coach will not talk about any other kid on the team as it relates to the player in question. That immediately stops queries such as, “My kid is better than Jones, the starting QB” or “How come my kid isn’t a co-captain”?
In addition, Coach Tribou makes it clear to the parents that if they want to go over his head and complain directly to the HS athletic director, that’s fine…so long as the AD has his back. If the AD doesn’t fully support his coaches, that’s where real problems can pop up in any school district.
Having coached myself over the years, I can tell you that Bill Tribou is right on target with his approach. Running a tight practice, being fully organized, and most of all, being clear and totally communicative to the players and their parents early on goes a long, long way toward getting rid of any parental intrusions. Maybe a generation ago, these kinds of problems didn’t exist, but they’re everywhere these days. Smart coaches know how to plan ahead to keep them out of the way.