Kenneth’s Korner – Aug 28th 2017 – The Coaching Carousel

It’s been a year that I didn’t think these things would come to pass. Last year at this time I just finished my first game as assistant coach at Bowen High School. This year I’m no longer there and they have forfeited their first game. How did we get here?

Last year I worked with Coach Crumb, he was coming into a situation where the previous coach left to go to coach at the high school he graduated from. The previous season ended in some turmoil and so the next season with Coach Crumb didn’t start out smoothly. We had players that still weren’t over the departure of the last coach. So while Coach Crumb was trying to set his own rules, there were players that wanted to do it the way they had been.

We had issues because a lot of players had summer jobs or activities that kept them from practice so pretty much we had only part of the team all summer.

Coming into the season we got our line together, not as solid as I or any of the other coaches would have liked. We still had some players that were difficult to handle but with 25 players we dealt with what we could.

The first game against Marion Central Catholic, was a game we knew it was a practice game for them but would set the bar on how we could do in conference play. When you play someone better than you, you tend to raise the bar of your play. These guys did….we weren’t going to win the game but we had the respect of Marion Central’s player, coaches and fans. I even heard a comment from a coach that said “Most of the time when we play CPS schools they give up. Your guys never gave up”. A sign of respect I was proud that our team received. Next was Fenwick another for sure state playoff team, again the fellas played up to their opponents, playing hard the whole game.

Now it was time to start the regular season. I’ll condense this for everyone, essentially the team played down to the competition. Making mistakes and just not concentrating. We had issues on and off the field. Coach was dealing with his own off the field health issues but all the assistant coaches stepped up including myself to fill in. We ended the season 2-7. We had some bright spots along the way with this senior heavy team. This was a team that could have made the state playoffs. I know you are thinking really Ken??? Yes, they had the talent but things that affect students on and off the field affected this team. 

So, after the season I’m just thinking of how I can help to improve the situation. I’m thinking about how I can fix the systems within the program to make things work better and more efficient. Communications between the coaching staff, the AD and the Principal and the AP. Also better communications with the parents. We had an incident where a player said they could leave with someone the grandmother didn’t approve of and we didn’t know. Its a situation that could have been bad but the player was ok and but that was damaging to the coaches. So organization I felt was the key to fixing a lot of the issues that surrounded the program. 

We took off during the wrestling season since most of our players wrestled. Coach Wilson who does a great job with them was doing great again this season. After wrestling was over we were planning to have spring practice. The players were ready to get started. Then I got the news that Coach Crumb was let go. So that put me in a spot. Would the next coach coming in allow me to stay, would they allow me to do what I was planning to do? They hired Coach Gordon and the AD put me in touch with him and was glad to have me on the coaching staff. 

Well, spring practice didn’t go the way it should. A lot of miscommunication happened, spring practice never got off the ground. Coach Gordon had to depend on someone to let him in the building and open up the weight room. At the time I was kind of busy dealing with my business clients so I wasn’t always there to let him in with my keys but even if I was I never had the weight room key. So I decided I was gonna get that key so we can have no more issues but I was too late as Coach Gordon decided to leave. I can’t even tell you why specifically, that’s something he would have to tell you himself.

All the time I was there assitant coach I had one nagging issue. I always felt I was out of the loop of information. I would show up at school early in the day. Some days I’d get information something has changed or there was some problem, not from the sources I should have but from the players. How does this happen. I started to feel a certain way about this.

After Coach Gordon departure I hadn’t been coming around much. I came back up a few times before the school year was out. I knew that Bert was working out the guys, but was uncertain who was taking over as head coach. I tried to communicate with people to find out but I got no answer. So I continued on with what I had to do personally. I finally texted one of the other coaches and they told me who was coaching. So I figured they were already practicing after I saw a hyde park player on the CTA bus one day going to practice. I went up to the school, no one there. I tried several more times… one. Last week I went into the building no one there from the administration or the security. I knew the first game of the season against Fenwick was Friday. I knew I couldn’t make it to the game. Saturday I looked to see if they had played and what was the score…..forfeit?!!? 

Right now I’m really upset and don’t know what I want to do next. I know I’m going to have to wait until school starts next week. The school is going through a lot of change. At this point we have no principal or AP. Principal selection was suppose to be happening but something is going on in the LSC. (refer to the David Vance editorial for more details.). This is something I didn’t want to see happen. This is disappointing for all the athletes that wanted to play. I’m sure there is more to this story but I don’t have the details to tell you but I know eventually it will all come out. I will continue to work, I will continue to try to do something for the greater good. Stay tuned….

This is an editorial by Kenneth Litzsey and the opinion expressed aren’t necessarily those of the Bowen Alumni Association.