LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Questions school sports practices

Sep 3, 2012


It is pay to play, I get that; but if we don't let all the kids play, how fair is that and how are they going to learn?

I heard from a reliable source that if your child didn't go through the program from a young age, or missed weightlifting, he or she won't play or make the team, which is not acceptable!

Just remember who you work for, coaches of Grand Haven, and respect all the kids and give them a fair chance. What a shame if this is how our children are treated.

Have any other parents dealt with this issue?

Jake Vermurlen
Grand Haven



I think the real issue that people are having with this letter hasn't been completely addressed. It reads to me like Jake hasn't really done his homework before going "public" with his concern. Grand Haven has dozens of sports programs, each with their own coaching staff. When you write a letter like Jake did, and you make it so general that you lump every team/sport into the mix, you're being careless. In addition, if you were that concerned, wouldn't a letter to the school board, a visit to a school board meeting, a call to the Superintendent, a call or email to the Athletic Director, Principal - anyone - be a good first step before you fire a scattershot opinion? I would have supported your letter a bit more had you taken the time to at least try to reach the school and understand the issue. Then, you could say....."I talked with Mrs. X and was told.....". But, you didn't. So, when you send something in like you did - you need to be prepared to get the same treatment back. While you say that you weren't criticizing coaches - you actually were. You're suggesting that they don't have our kids best interests at heart. I'm sure that we can all find examples where someone wasn't given a chance that should have been - but we can also find ample examples of those who were. To generalize that the entire program operates a certain way is simply being ill-informed. G'day!


Its been handled just got off the phone a win for the underdogs!!!!! I rest my case


Yes, I'm sure it is.........great work!


"Just got off the phone... win for the underdogs..."

If you don't explain it further... I would just think that you were ordering a pizza!


I got off the phone with the principal and she said she would take care of it!!!! and it was little ceasers happy




Those stating Grand Haven sports don't have any coaches in the "good old boy" club are just plain ignorant. There are great coaches out there who treat all potential players equally and there are coaches out there who play favorites. They buckle under the pressure put on them by the high school Athletic Department to play a winning team and play players who they KNOW will provide wins, instead of occasionally fielding players who have not been given the playing time to prove themselves. Some coaches also buckle under pressure put on them by parents who have over-committed to their child's sports career and get involved in ways they should not.

Heck, there is a "good old boys" club right among some staff at GH, in which they have buckled under the constant pressure of a select few parents. For instance, the fact that administrators decided to, in essence, demote Greg Maynard because they no longer wanted to stand up to a minority of parents who complained about him. Different situation but same idea. Greg demanded respect, dedication and hard work to be a member of the high school marching band. He did not demand by any means that you be the most talented instrumentalist; in fact any upperclassmen who wanted to be a part of the marching band could regardless of their ability to play. But they had to be dedicated and give their best effort otherwise you would not be successful (get an A in the class). Greg had high expectations, and because of that he put an award-winning band on the field. Those who were dedicated and wanted to be there respected Greg for his high expectations, myself included. I was not the best by any means, in fact at the end of marching band my freshman year I got the award for "Most Improved Marching". I still had horrible marching style, but Greg recognized my hard work. There were students who felt they shouldn't have to be dedicated to marching band and the parents of those kids continued to be the squeaky wheel with administrators. Administrators caved to this minority group of parents and, despite Greg's reputation of producing bands that dominated its competition, removed him as high school band director. These administrators had it out for Greg for years and it was obvious in their refusal to stand behind him.

My point...they had a personal agenda, just like some coaches each year will have. And oh yeah, did I mention that a majority of the student's who had parents who complained were considered the "jocks" in school. They wanted to slack off for an "unimportant" activity like band, and their parents were vocal in making sure they had a hand in how it was run, and at the same time were dedicated completely to a sport in which their parents, again, made sure they had a say in how it was run.


Playing kids who can win games is not necessarily representative of a "good old boy club". Neither is making decisions based on parental pressure. Those could possibly be indicative of misplaced values or cowardice, respectively, however the examples you give provide no evidence of a "good old boy club".

How can a discussion like this be even somewhat productive if people just latch onto a phrase or idea and manipulate their perspective to jump on the bandwagon?

And I agree with other comments in that while Jake may have a point, and could even be right in fact, the letter would have been much more compelling with even an ounce of effort on his part to rectify, or even just explore, the situation first. What a sad thing to make such broadly sweeping insinuations toward so many dedicated coaches and administrators. These folks give so much to help our kids and should be respected enough to get the benefit of the doubt, or at least a fair analysis beyond hearsay!

Unfortunately it is clear even in his handling of this situation that Jake is against a "pay to play" - or in other words putting in effort and working for something - approach to sports, and life in general. Real change takes investment and effort, not simply writing a letter to the local paper every time you see something you don't like.

If a few more kids play because of the letter that's nice, but in the long-run ignorance and apathy like this does much more harm than good.


hi Zeke, I am not against pay to play. Your comment about me not putting forth the work in life in general is nonsense!!! I work hard for my family and also have worked two jobs for over 16 years and instill that into my kids life so dont assume. I also did do reserch about this before i wrote it. I I never put the coaches down ASSUME ASSUME ASSUME! I reminded them about playing all kids. But thanks for your imput


If you think you did not put coaches down with this letter you are wrong, and you need to significantly improve your communication skills.

If you did research before you wrote this you should have included, or at least alluded to, it in your letter. I'm not assuming anything, I'm drawing conclusions based on the information. It's called logic and deductive reasoning.

And I didn't say you don't work hard for your family. As you told others here, calm down and read what I actually wrote.

I'm just calling it the way I see it. Even if you did, as you suddenly claim, "do reserch" (to quote you precisely) this was a lazily written letter. There are lots of options to take ownership of your frustration and try to change things before writing a letter like this.


Zeke, it is a shame. I very often agree with your viewpoints. But you present them in such a confrontational and demeaning way that it is hard to want to agree with you. You are obviously well read and fairly intelligent but you just seem to be such a prick. Don't get me wrong, I understand that it is likely that you are purposely doing this to provoke people, but doesn't being an arrogant a**hole ever get old?


Coach, you raise a good point. First off, thank you for the compliments despite the critique. I do agree that I can come across as a real jerk a lot of the time on here. Believe it or not it is not my ideal and I often question my own methods.

But I tried nice and sweet, contemplative and thought-provoking, etc. You win more bees with honey after all, right? Well, it turned out to take way longer, not be effective at making people think (in my estimation), but most importantly here is my rationale: I can't stand apathy, ignorance, unmerited attack, unfairly criticizing those in leadership, groupthink, lynch mob mentality, and people fighting for their obvious agenda under false pretense (to name a few things). These things just about make my blood boil and I find it quite therapeutic to be able to speak up about them here when I see them (though I do stand for them in the "real world" as well).

I know I'm not always right, and I do try to own it when I'm wrong. I am more than willing to apologize if I have been hurtful even if I don't see eye to eye with someone. I'm also sorry for my wordiness, but it takes too long to hone my thoughts into shorter posts and it's not usually worth the extra time.

I will say that I try to gauge the level of venom I spit on how strongly I feel the other person has come across. In this case I felt that many good people were painted with a very broad brush, and very unfairly so. I am actually quite sympathetic to players who don't get a fair look, but if that is really happening this is not the first resort for changing (it in my opinion).

One last thing. If this site required us to use our true identities I would share mine, and yes I would likely be more subtle. But others would as well, which would drastically change the nature of conversations here. In the meantime, I'm sorry if I annoy or offend. I'm very open to meaningful dialogue, don't think my opinion is always right or the only one, and am honestly just trying to be true to my convictions and my conscience, but again I'm sorry for coming across like an a*****e. Your point is well taken and I will more carefully choose my words and approach. Thank you.


Hi Jake. I am a high school coach. Although originally from the GH area, that is not where I live and coach now and therefore have no idea about specific coaches at GH. First of all, please understand that many people are on here just looking for a fight - I can only wish I had as much free time as it would seem someone like Zeke must have for all the fights he picks on this website. I understand your concern so please allow me to give a coach's perspective. We spend a great deal of time with these student-athletes everyday in practice. A good coach knows exactly what a player is capable of based on practice time and therefor all do not receive equal time and some receive little to no time in games. Unfortunately, I coach a sport where cuts are a necessity - it is the absolute worst part of the job. I have had many conversations with borderline student-athletes to tell them that if they want to be a part of the team we are happy to have them and they will be treated just like everyone else with the exception of not playing very much in games. The alternative is to not be on the team. Almost everytime the student jumps at the chance to be on the team. In a perfect world everyone would play but that's not the way it goes. It is a shame that today high school coaches get fired for not winning. I have seen it happen to friends of mine and usually it is due to pressure from the parents who are upset by the lack of success of a program. Also coaches and players want to win. I always tell my kids that winning is not our main priority, but if we're going to put in all this time and effort it is something we're going to try to do. So in a day when a high school coach's job may potentially be on the line due to a lack of success it is not realistic to expect that everyone plays (granted noone should sit on the bench every second of the whole season, but I don't think a few minutes when the game is already decided is what you're talking about) It's just like all the camps and summer activities that monopolize everyone's limited free time - as coaches most of us HATE them. But if we don't do it and everyone else is, then our program and jobs are at risk. A good coach will make the experience rewarding for every team member whether they play during games or not.


thank you coach 21



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