Guest Column: Boys’ soccer coach discusses charges against other coaches
February 20, 2002
My name is Rob Curtis and I am the boys’ varsity soccer coach for Tahoe-Truckee High School and the co-owner and general manager of Lake Tahoe Brewing Company.
Each of these positions requires that I take a strong and professional stance on underage drinking. I recognize the problems that it presents and I do not condone it.
Each August I am asked to take a look at a group of boys trying out for the high school soccer team and make some tough decisions. It is up to my staff and I to examine our strengths and weaknesses and make our decisions based upon what we are faced with. In our world of coaching, we sometimes refer to this as “read and react.” Read the environment around you, and react accordingly. It is what all of us do every day.
As our teenagers turn into young adults, we ask that they take more responsibility in making sensible decisions for themselves. As parents and coaches it is our job to teach them how to make good decisions, and periodically, when their decision making may seem a bit questionable, influence or override them, in order to keep them safe.
A busload of 16, 17 and 18-year-old boys can provide an environment ripe for some periodic poor judgment. A bus full of 16, 17 and 18-year-old boys and girls only makes the situation worse. A busload of 16, 17 and 18-year-old boys and girls who just won the state tournament is probably the worst case scenario when it comes to providing an environment conducive to young adult responsible decision making.
Now, read and react. What would you do, looking at this busload of our exuberant youth, knowing full well that they were heading for a party regardless of what you say or do?
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Option one: Speak to the group about responsible decision-making and watching out for each other, then distance yourself from the situation, and avoid any involvement, because you can see trouble coming.
Option two: Try to corral the potentially stampeding herd into an area where you at least have some control over the safety of those involved.
Evidently the correct answer is to avoid involvement and hope for the best. For here I sit, with my name unmentioned, while those who got involved are publicly embarrassed and punished.
Please don’t misunderstand me, facilitating underage drinking is wrong. Laws are laws and must be respected. But the spirit of those laws is to protect our children.
In attempting to keep this unruly and excited group together and out of harm and trouble’s way, Mike, Mark and Eric are now paying a large price. These men are respected members of the community who have volunteered huge amounts of their time to our local youths. I feel fortunate to have them as part of the soccer community and view them as positive role models. They made a mistake. Question their judgment but not their intent.
Had the teams been left to their own devices, it is possible that we could be reading obituaries instead of countless letters to the editor.
There is no easy answer to this problem. Parents of high school students should be aware that these are the years that many young adults choose to try alcohol. Life would be much easier for all of us if it were not the case. Until this changes, we must face that reality. As your children reach this age, honestly speak with them about situations that they will likely face, and responsible and safe ways to respond.
Whether it is in high school or later in life, these are challenges that they must be prepared for.
Opinions here and in other submissions do not necessarily represent the editorial views of this newspaper.