“A coach’s plea to parents”

There was a great column in Canada’s The Globe and Mail at the end of May. It’s really an open letter from a volunteer youth soccer coach to the parents of the team she coaches and all sports parents throughout the world.

Coach Alison Belbin lives in Nanaimo, B.C. The whole column is worth the three minutes to read. Here are her closing thoughts.

Criticizing your child’s coach might simply be a reflection of your insecurities or long-held regrets as a former player. That’s okay. We all have them. As adults we can understand this, but as a child, your daughter does not. She is being pulled in opposing directions between her team and her parent’s opinion of her team.

On her team, she is finding her identity and her place among her peers. It is here she will decide if that place makes her feel whole and satisfied, or if it makes her edgy and hungry for more.

Let her discover this, on her own.

Let her play.

Well said, coach!

New Facilities at McNaughton Fields Park

On Saturday, April 9, the Fairfax County Park Authority officially opened new diamond fields at McNaughton Park in the Mt. Vernon district. This was the conclusion of a $4.4 million renovation program funded through the 2008 and 2012 Park Bonds.

This was the ribbon cutting on completely renovated fields that have been the home of Woodlawn Little League since the 1960s. The project included the demolition of the four existing fields and the construction of a 90-foot diamond and a 60/70-foot diamond with grass infields along with a 60/70-foot diamond and a 60 foot diamond with skinned infields. Along with the fields, covered dugouts, bullpens, batting cages, bleachers, and fencing were also included. Continue reading

56th Annual Home Plate Awards Banquet

This past weekend, I attended the 56th Annual Home Plate Club Awards Banquet. It was a wonderful evening organized by Ron Tugwell, Rob Hahne and Joey Kamide. The event was co-hosted by NOVA Baseball Magazine.

Three people were inducted into the Hall of Fame. They included Mike Colangelo, Al Mccullock, and Dan Raley.

Mike Colangelo
Colangelo led C.D. Hylton to the Virginia Group AAA state semifinals as a senior in 1994 before his three-year career at George Mason University, which concluded with a 1997 season in which he hit. 418 with a .520 on-base average and 32 extra-base hits. The outfielder was drafted by Anaheim in the 21st round and would play in the big leagues with the Angels, San Diego Padres, and Oakland Athletics before retiring in 2006. Colangelo is the head coach at Charles J. Colgan High School and resides in Manassas.

Al Mccullock
A baseball and football coach at Herndon High School for 30 years, McCullock won 235 games and two Group AAA Northern Re­gion championships over 15 years as the Hor­nets’ head coach. After starring at Lee High School, he served as a three-year captain at Concord University in West Virgin­ia, then played for years with the Industrial League’s Springfield Rifles. Joins his father, Al McCullock Sr., in two capacities – in having a field named after him, and as an HPC Hall of Farner. McCullock is retired and resides in Leesburg. Continue reading

Talent: Hard to identify when they are only 10 years old

When my oldest daughter was seven, I was approached by a coach about her moving up to Travel soccer. She was going to turn eight in a few weeks and, in the fall, would be ready to play travel. At least that was his point of view.

My wife and I talked about it and decided that Travel was not the best choice for our soon to be third grader. She would be entering the GT Center and it seemed to us that it was just too early. I wanted her to continue to play rec soccer (I really believe team sports are important for kids). The coach thought we were nuts. I’ll never forget what he said, “You are ruining her soccer career!” “Career?” I thought. “She’s seven!”

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FCPA: National Golf Foundation

In 2011, the Fairfax County Park Authority contracted with National Golf Foundation Consulting to do a report on the FCPA Golf System. It was a financial and operational analysis. The report was presented to the board in January 2012. Since that time, FCPA golf operations has worked to implement the recommendations and made several reports to the board about their progress. However, in an ongoing effort to clean up the FCPA website, the County archived the original report and the supporting material.

To make sure that this material continues to be easily available to those that wish to review it, I am making it all available here.

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Former Collegiate Athletes Thrive

Former student athletes who received a bachelor’s degree are generally doing better than their non-students athlete counterparts. That is the conclusion of a 2016 NCAA study conducted with Gallup that evaluates how former NCAA student-athletes compare with non-athletes in a series of key areas of well being. They also looked at whether there are differences in these same areas between former student-athletes who played football and men’s basketball as compared with former student-athletes who played other sports.
To help the NCAA answer these questions, Gallup used the Gallup-Purdue Index to analyze outcomes in three broad categories: • Great Lives: Well-Being • Great Jobs: Workplace Engagement • Great Experiences: Alumni Attachment Each of these categories includes a set of sub-measures which, when taken as a whole, provide a comprehensive picture of the current lives of these graduates. Additionally, there are measures that examine their educational attainment and key collegiate experiences. Through this combination of metrics, Gallup is able to establish that in terms of well-being, former student-athletes are faring better than their non-student-athlete peers in multiple areas.

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Northern Virginia Football Hall of Fame

Sunday night, March 5th was the 27th Annual Northern Virginia Football Hall of Fame Annual Awards Banquet. The event is a cornerstone of youth and high school sports in Fairfax County. Every year it is attended by players, parents, coaches and referees from every youth football program in Northern Virginia as well as many high schools.

Fairfax County leaders attend every year. This year, Rep. Gerry Connelly, Supervisors Herrity, Faust, and Smith, as well as school board members Ryan McElveen and Ilryong Moon all attended. Neighborhood and Community Services Director Chris Leonard and NCS Athletic Services Branch Manager along with Stephen McLaughlin and Harold Leff from the Athletic Council were also there.

But the real focus of the evening is the award recipients. Continue reading

I thought $60 million for a high school stadium was a lot…

In August 2012 Eagle Stadium in Allen, Texas, opened. The $60 million stadium had seating for 18,000, a massive scoreboard with 38 foot wide high def screen, practice areas for golf and wrestling and opened with lots of fanfare. While stadiums open every year, this one was different. Why? Because if was a high school stadium.

On top of this, the stadium had to be shutdown less than 18 months later because of “extensive cracking.” The story of the stadium was covered by many media outlets including the Washington Post. It reopened in 2015 with Chik-fil-a, upper-deck seating, and more.

I remember reading about this at the time. $60 million for a high school stadium? At the time it seemed completely out of control. Now? It still seems completely out of control. But when I looked back to see what happened with Eagle Stadium, I found out that a $60 million high school stadium was just the start. This past September, a school district just down the road from Allen broke ground on a $70 million stadium.

Fairfax County releases new report on county’s demographics

Fairfax County has released a wide array of updated demographic information. This data provides a lot of insight into who we are now and who we may become.

One interesting trend is the increase in students eligible for free and reduced lunch:

From 2002-2014 the Fairfax County elementary student membership increased by 17%. During the same time period the number of students eligible for free and reduced lunches increased by 72%.

One of the reasons this jumped out at me is the ongoing struggle to make sure that these children have the opportunity to play sports as well as have access to other extracurriculars like art, museum visits and more.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth saying again. We need to make sure we help these children and their families. Sports (and other activities) should never be out of their reach. Through scholarships, assistance with uniforms and equipment, and opportunities to achieve their full potential, we can make sure that all the incredible benefits of sports are available to everyone in our community

Trophy Kids

I am a huge believer in the positive value of youth sports. But I also know that some parents take it too far. HBO aired a documentary that looked at some of these issues. When you have a chance, Peter Berg’s The State of Play: Trophy Kids is worth taking the 55 minutes to watch.