XRDS — After five years of coaching his alma mater, Crossroads head boys’ basketball coach Kevin Jackson decided he had enough.
He had enough of parents going to the athletic director whenever there was a dust-up on the team. He had enough of today’s players being chaffed by his old-school coaching style.
He just had enough and during the winter break tendered his resignation as coach, deciding it was time to work on his youth basketball camp and focusing on younger players. It’s a place he thinks he can do the most good.
“It just came to me to step down,” Jackson said. “There’s a lot of things that went into it. The evolution of the game, the players, the sensitivity — it became to much for me to deal with.
“You can’t coach the way I came up anymore.”
Jackson admits that his style can be challenging. During his time on the sideline he’s seen parents become more vocal, eventually wearing him thin.
He didn’t name players, but he said that it was a privileged attitude among the team that led him to his decision.
While he won’t be the coach any longer, he will stay with the school as a physical education teacher. It’s a job he’s held since 1992.
Athletic director Ira Smith said that the situation was ripe for a change.
“As in anything, when you work at something for a certain amount of time and get to a certain level … it just gets to a point where things had run its course.”
Smith, in his first year as athletic director, said that the split was mutual and that he looks forward to having Jackson stay close to the program to help with a level of continuity that he thinks is a benefit to the program.
Complaining parents and undisciplined players are nothing new, but Jackson and a number of area coaches say that school administrations are increasingly listening to their complaints instead of letting the coach deal with it internally.
Across town at Santa Monica High School, former head girls’ basketball coach Marty Verdugo knows it all too well.
During his tenure, which ended with his resignation after last season, was tinged by what he considered a feeling of pressure. Not only was the pressure to win acute for the coach who led Samohi to its first CIF-Southern Section championship in the sport in 2010, but the outside forces from people surrounding the program just became a reality he didn’t want to deal with anymore.
“You have to make a decision; you have to coach to the rules and to the principal,” Verdugo said. “But once you start worrying about those parents you’ll never be true to yourself.”
Verdugo said that he tried to get close to parents during his early days of coaching, but learned the hard way that it didn’t shield him from parents going over his head to gripe about the treatment of their kids.
Over the years he learned that it was best to keep a healthy distance from parents and unhappy players. He too noticed that today’s parents were more willing to speak up than in years past.
Verdugo isn’t sure if it’s a Santa Monica phenomenon or just something that is becoming more prevalent across the board. He just knows that things have changed from the days he played high school football in the 1970s.
For Verdugo, it was a series of run-ins with parents of his star players that brought him to his conclusion. The team was winning a title, making long runs into the playoffs and still he would be criticized at every turn.
Despite the outside interference he still managed to be successful, but he knew it was only a matter of time until he would leave the profession.
“If you’re going to coach old-school you have to have the administration support you,” he said.