Last Friday at the Paris girls basketball Shootout I got there a little after 8 a.m. and one of the very first smiling faces I saw was former Coyotes varsity baseball and softball coach Mike Fible.
He was officiating a girls basketball game just like he does every year at the Paris girls basketball Shootout, only this summer he's wasn't employed by Paris Community Schools. Now he works for Linn Community Schools in several different capacities, which includes high school athletic director and varsity baseball coach. Perhaps if he had known former Coyotes AD Wade Billington was jumping ship in favor of Salisbury, the Coyotes didn't have to lose Fible, but let's keep it positive.
Fible always kept it positive. After every game both in the fall and in the spring like it was his religion he'd be on maxpreps.com posting his teams stats win or lose, and what followed for me was a full results sheet containing everything he had to share that I could ever hope for and even a few things I didn't. Perhaps most people already know this but, the best coaches, the ones who report everything their teams do on time, everytime, they don't do that for me. Those coaches do that for the kids.
Every coach, good, bad or otherwise, could pretty much care less about me and what I have to do, for the most part. The ones who share information do it because they put the athletes first and helping me out is simply part of that process, something Mexico guest volleyball instructor David Jack understood quite well.
"We teach them volleyball is a microcosm of life. Things athletes learn on the court can transition into the real world," said Jack. "This is not an individual sport. It's a team sport. Positive reinforcement can uplift another player. Being positive. Being encouraged. Being encouraging. Just talking. Saying things like, nice pass. Nice dig. You can get the next one. That can empower someone to work even harder in a drill and we've seen that, for sure."
In keeping with that same theme, when school employees are overwhelmed by their job duties, one sign of that is they don't seem to be able to distinguish between adults and students, and the end result is often everybody gets spoken to in the same incredibly condescending tone. That's a problem for me. I see that as a proffesional issue that stems from a lack of something. Whether that something is education or intelligence or ability, I don't know. What I do know is I'm not your kid. Also, I don't care.
So, during my first year here at the Ledger when an athletic director called an asked me to credential a parent for the class 1 state track and field meet as a photographer and he finally spoke to me like an adult, I should've known it was more than just him wanting a favor. The deal we made was, in return, I'd get copies of all of this parents photos and that would help me solve the riddle of how I was going to cover the two state track meets that take place on consecutive weekends for all the different classes.
Well, it's almost a year and a half later and I'm still waiting. What kind of low-character, no picture sharing, phone-call-avoiding garbage did I allow myself to get caught up in? Every other coach at that school cares about putting the athletes first. All that did was guarantee none of the local kids who competed at that meet were pictured in the paper, but not to worry. That can never happen again. You're gone. Jumped ship. Now, keep jumping, but don't do it for me. Do it for the kids.