By Dan Cardone
Contributor Dan Cardone shares a recent anecdote about solving a conflict that came up when a student at his high school wanted to try out for both the softball team and the school musical.
Tryouts are necessary in some sports. But the selection process may pose challenges to the coaching staff as they try to narrow the field to a manageable number of participants.
Recently, a student at my school who expressed an interest in softball also had a lead role in the spring musical. Tryouts coincided with the week leading up to the performance.
The coaches were locked into a gym time that directly conflicted with musical practice. The staff initially told the student she would have to be present. If she was not able to attend, she would have to make a choice.
It is not sound practice to deny someone the opportunity to try out for a team. Yet what alternative is there if the student cannot make any of the tryout sessions? The coaches cannot hold a tryout prior to the legal start date for the sport, and they cannot extend tryouts beyond the announced dates.
The student was upset, and her parents contacted us to see if anything could be done. I spoke with the coaches and asked if we could somehow give her a chance to be evaluated. Since there was no flexibility from those involved with the musical, we would have to find a way.
The softball coaches agreed to give her a chance to try out, and the baseball coaches offered use of the batting cage during the baseball time slot to evaluate her hitting. The lacrosse coaches also did their part, allowing the softball coaches time to grade her on her catching, throwing, and base running during lacrosse's field time slot.
I contacted the girl's parents and informed them of the arrangements, and they were very appreciative. I ended the conversation by wishing their daughter the best of luck during the process. I also told them that if it did not go her way, I didn't want them to cry foul due to the unique circumstances. They assured me this would not happen.
I was proud of the way our softball coaching staff stepped up to the plate. Another positive sign was the willingness of the other spring sports to share facilities. We encourage our students to be well-rounded, and this conflict forced a prospective athlete to make a choice between two school activities. Giving students the opportunity to maximize their abilities helps us fulfill our mission as educators.
Dan Cardone is Athletic Director at North Hills High School in Pittsburgh, Pa. He is a frequent contributor to Athletic Management.
I am a sport management graduate student at Western Illinois University and I am currently doing my internship at Macomb High School Athletic Office (Illinois). There have been similar problems with the play/acting/school musical supervisors that make all school musical practices mandatory. This causes a problem for all athletes in spring
sports. I have a freshman sister at Forreston High School (Illinois) who will be the starting varsity softball pitcher for the spring 2008 season, but was unable to take a large role in the school musical “Sound of Music” due to conflicts between schedules. The musical director makes all practices mandatory even though my sister only has one line throughout the whole musical. My sister also just realized the weekend of the musical is the same weekend the softball team is supposed to be playing one of the school’s biggest rivals. She mentioned this to the musical director and she told my sister that she’ll see her at the musical. When my sister told the softball coach, he told her that she has to be at the game. The issue still has not been resolved. Why can’t they all just work together for the student-athletes?
- Miranda Edler