Category Archives: Youth

Poor Pat

So the notorious wheelman of the “Whitman 5” has been sentenced to 10 years in jail with all but 10 days being suspended.  It truly is terrible that he has to serve any time in prison because I can tell you I personally would not want to spend 1 day or even one hour behind bars.

I feel sorry for the poor kid because he is just that.  A kid.  A kid who made a terrible mistake. 

So while many of you might think I have something against Pat Lazear, well, I will try and explain to you as simply as I can, again, “No, I don’t”.

And as for those of you who think I hate Whitman High School,  I will try and explain to you as simply as I can, again, “No, I don’t”.

  • I don’t like parents, teachers, administrators and coaches who don’t do what is right for the child over their own self interests. 
  • I don’t like parents, teachers, administrators and coaches who don’t enforce the rules.
  • I don’t like parents, teachers, administrators and coaches who help to create and foster an environment of entitlement that leads to illegal and despicable acts in and against the community.
  • I dont’ like parents, teachers, administrators and coaches and fans who believe that they are being falsely targeted and picked on when one of their own does something wrong.

If that fits Whitman High School, then maybe I don’t like Whitman but it is for good reason and not just a subjective reason , like “you are not me.”

And let me cut off any any discussion or comparison to what has occurred with Whitman students and the five Damascus students who were recently arrested for going to Clarksburg High to start a fight.

The kids from Damascus were wrong and the administration at Damascus dealt with it swiftly and appropriately.  They were all suspended and not given any special treatment regardless of who they were, what sport they played or any other factor.

How would I have reacted if I  were to hear they had not been?  I would have been on the phone to the principal and been blogging about it the next day.

So let’s all do what we can to prevent another incident like the Smoothie King Armed robbery from occurring again by holding parents, teachers, administrators and coaches accountable for behavior they could have influenced.  And as fans, let’s reconsider what it is that makes someone worthy of our adoration.

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I’ll Make the Difference

Last night I attended my 11 year old daughter’s choir concert.  The music was very nice and I have to admit for middle schoolers, I was very impressed with the harmonies and blending of voices that the choral director had been able to achieve with these kids. 

While the voices were very good and I really enjoyed getting to see my youngest daughter perform on stage, there was one very special moment which occurred which literally choked me up.   

I can’t recall whether I have told you that our oldest son who is now 19,  is a 16 year cancer survivor.  He was diagnosed at three with neuroblastoma, went through chemo and radiation and eventually had an autologous bone marrow transplant.  We consider ourselves very fortunate that he is alive today and very thankful to everyone who played a part in his treatment and recovery.

So how does our oldest son having had cancer have anything to do with my daughter’s concert last night?

Well, the Chamber Singers, which is the school’s elite choir sang a song called “I’ll Make the Difference” which just happens to be a song written for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.  It is a beautiful song whose lyrics are truly inspirational and there is a beautiful female solo which starts it off.  Having a son who is a cancer survior, having lost both my father and mother-in-law to cancer and having been an active participant in the Relay for Life for many years you can imagine that anything to do with cancer has a special meaning to me.  Over the years though, I have been able to suppress certain emotions on the outside when facing anything cancer-related.  But last night was different.

See, a few years ago a young boy in our town was diagnosed with Leukemia and after several attempts with chemo he eventually had a bone marrow transplant.  The donor was his sister who happened to be in the same grade with our youngest son.

The soloist was this same girl who was the marrow donor for her brother.

Now you might think she was selected for this part because of her story, and in part that may be true, but she has a beautiful voice and is a member of the State Honors Choir.

Seeing her up there singing this song about hope and helping others and knowing what she had already done in her life for others….well, you get my point.

After, the song I looked over at her dad and brother who were sitting a few rows down from us and I could see the joy in their faces.  They were both giving her a special hand signal which would make no sense to anyone else, but probably meant everything to them.

It’s moments like this that make you realize how precious life is and question what you have done to make a difference.  Is raising your family and living a model life enough?  Or do you need to be active in the community and participate in helping others outside of your family to make a difference? 

We are all busy in our daily lives and we have enough to keep us busy with our immediate family.  But the real reward and the real difference is when you go beyond what you have to do.

The next time you are faced with an opportunity to help someone else, do it before you are asked. 

“The Whitman 5”: Who is to Blame?

Dear mm and mmm:

I have read the comments you have left on my blog and I appreciate you both taking the time to share these.

Whitman is a very good school with high SATs and preparing students for some of the best colleges in the country.  No question about it.

But Whitman, like any other high school, is not perfect nor will it, or any other high school, ever be.  However, Whitman has some real problems right now that go beyond what is wrong at “most high schools”.

While I realize you two are probably in the majority about your feelings for Pat Lazear and the others and whether they committed the crime or not, the minority has been very vocal  and I and others who publicly condemned or questioned those involved in this situation have been subjected to some of the most vulgar, dim witted, unreasonable and threatening messages from the minority.

Now, you both express concern about my claim that the teachers, coaches and administration should be held accountable for Pat and the other’s actions.  I can understand how you might disagree based upon the type of person Robert Warren is/was and your own descriptions of the others, but if the coaches EVER said anything to them about their behavior and the student didn’t listen, did they EVER take further action?  In other words did Wallich or Wetzel EVER make them miss a game or a match because of their behavior?  Did Magathan or Goodwin EVER step in and use their authority?  I’ll be honest that I don’t know the answer but I have a pretty good idea that it is “NO”.

Look at the incident from this past spring at Duke and the Duke Lacrosse Coach.  Did he have anything  to do directly with the alleged rapes?  No.  But he lost his job anyway because the program he ran was so loosely monitored that the team was allowed to behave in a way that they could be put in a position to be accused of rape and commit other acts which reflected poorly on the team and the University.

I have been involved in dialogue in the past with Coach Wetzel about the demeanor of some of his wrestlers and never once did he ever say they could or should have acted with more respect.  Instead he defended their behavior as being “special athletes” who work hard and “deserve everything they can take”.  I don’t think you have to look much further to see there is a problem brewing.

You both say you knew these five guys.  Did you ever tell them to quit being idiots or did you just laugh at their antics?  Peer pressure can go a long way.  I am sure you know of kids at your school over the years who have broken a rule and gotten caught like drinking under age and not been punished because of some talent they have.   Do you think that is fair?  And if they get away with that or see someone similar to them get away with it, then what makes you or them think they can’t away with something more serious.  Something like, well….I don’t know…maybe….ARMED ROBBERY?

As long everyone just looks the other way and doesn’t ask questions it will continue.

Yes, these guys have been through a lot and to be honest it will only get worse as time goes on.  That comes with notoriety and fame.  If Pat Lazear and the others want all the benefits of being a star or hanging out with a star, then they have to take all the criticism, too.  And the blind “Whitman Faithful” who support them have to learn to live with it, too.  If Pat Lazear had taken Whitman to states I am sure no one would be complaining about an article in the paper talking about what a great athlete he was. 

I am sorry your school has had to take this much heat.  But maybe if you, your friends, and all of your parents would put some pressure on the school to stop this kind of behavior before it reaches this level then maybe people could focus on the good things about Whitman and not just what these five kids did.

Ultimately Pat Lazear and the others are responsible for the choices they made.   Their parents also probably carry some of the blame for not doing something earlier (Remember , there were warning signs in the form of credit card fraud).

But PLEASE do not be so naive to think that the at least one teacher, coach or administrator couldn’t have had some influence on at least one of these kids.  If not directly, then indirectly by the way they responded to negative behavior.

He Did It and It Really Is a Shame

A second teen pleads guilty in smoothie store robbery

Patrick Lazear could serve up to 18 months in prison

There it is in black and white in the Montogomery Gazette on Wednesday, November 29, 2006.

“Patrick Lazear, 17, considered to be one of the top college football prospects in the region, admitted to being the getaway driver and providing the replica 9mm gun used in the March 30 robbery of a Wisconsin Avenue Smoothie King store. “

Ok, so all you “Whitman Faithful”, we waited for “all the facts to come out” but because Lazear took a plea bargain, we will never here them in his case.  Or did we hear the only one that matters. 

‘‘It holds him accountable,” DeGonia told reporters after the hearing. ‘‘He admitted to his role in this, that he entered into an illegal agreement to do an illegal act.”

He did it.  He admitted it.  He’s GUILTY.

I apologize for gloating.  I am not happy that he or any of the other kids were involved in this crime.  If I am to gloat about anything is that all you near sighted and foul mouthed “Whitman Faithful” were proven wrong.  But again, I am not going to gloat or say I told you so.

What I do want to say is, “NOW will you look in your own backyard?  NOW will you start to ask questions about how Walt Whitman High School and it’s Athletic Programs are being run?  NOW will you think twice about defending a kid who needs to be taught some modesty and humility?”

Pat Lazear screwed up and is paying for it.  Is Eren Civan next?  Maybe instead of applauding Goliath when he stomps off the field or the mat after completely humiliating his opponent you will tell him to straighten up and appreciate his talent.  Don’t rub people’s noses in it.   Have some respect for the guy who against all odds at least went out there and competed.

If you wake up now maybe your school, your community and some unsuspecting youth with unlimited potential will be saved from ever having to go through this again.

Pat Lazear screwed up. It is his fault.  It’s the kids he associated with fault.  It is his parents fault.  It is his teacher’s fault.  It is his coaches fault.  It is the administration’s fault.  It is all his adoring fans fault – the “Whitman Faithful”.  Everyone who ever had the opportunity to put some good moral sense in the kid’s head and didn’t do it becasue he was “special”.  You all are to blame.  And it is a true travesty.

Good night and sorry for the rant but this whole thing has me disturbed.  No one is going to learn from this and 10 years from now it will all be repeated.  Different kid, different town, different crime.  Same reason.

Why I Really Coach

As another season of youth football has come to a close, and it is my son’s last season as he will be entering high school next year, I am faced with the dilemma of, “is this my last season, too or will I coach again next year?”

Many people assume it is my last given my son’s age and I may take a break from it next year, but I don’t really think it is my last for one simple reason – Why I really coach.

Many youth coaches are out there because it is a way to be involved with their own kids.  They find it is a way to build a bond and have something special with their child.  In many cases if they did not step up to coach their might not be a team at all.  Unfortunately, you also see the ones who at the end of a game aren’t as concerned with the final score as they are with their own kid’s statistics.  They coach to insure that their kid is the star and is in every play.

There are also those coaches who do it because it fulfills their competitive needs.  They are former athletes themselves still in great shape, but are too old to be allowed on the field themselves.  They are living vicariously through their players until the Redskins call.  They like the rush they get from winning and the power they feel which is something they don’t get from their jobs.

Then are those who really do have something to share and want to make a difference.  They see coaching as a way to pass along some of their knowledge and help give something back to the community.

So, which one am I?

I definitely have done it to be involved with my kid.  I have done it not to make my kid the star but in one case to prevent that “one dad” from ruining the season for everyone by him making his kid the star at the expense of everyone else.  I do love the thrill of winning but, alas, I have not maintained my athletic physique and if the Redskins were to call me, it would be to be a food taster for Dan Snyder.

I have done it to give something back to the community and make a difference in a kid’s life but I think I am unique in why I think I can or should  do this.  I had a great teacher and coach growing up.   My Dad.

He was my baseball coach all through Little League.   When he passed away several years ago, at his funeral I saw several men who I hadn’t seen since high school or even some since we had played Little League together.  Each one was there because my dad as their Little League coach 30 years earlier had touched their lives in a way they never forgot.  Several of them shared stories about how he had helped them or how as an adult they had remembered something he taught them or said to them that got them through difficult times.  All things that I didn’t know or just took for granted.  When I saw the impact he had on so many young people by just being a dad who was a volunteer baseball coach, I knew I had to follow his example.

This is one of many reasons I am so passionate about what coaches do and say around players and the special treatment gifted athletes are given.  Kids are impressionable and like it or not they do notice.  Winning is important but it is not why kids should be playing and why coaches should be coaching.  It is not the win/loss record that will have a lasting impact.

Do I think any of the kids I have coached will show up at my funeral one day?  I doubt it.  But I would like to think that when one of them comes to a crossroads in their life (i.e. rob the Smoothie King or not?) they will think about something I did or said and make the right choice.

Just like my Dad.

 PS:  I just came across this article from The Washington Post Good Coaches Win in Other Ways”.    Ditto, Bingo, Exactly…..

Side Note:  Jasmina Parazic, who is pictured in the article, coached my daughter this year in Field Hockey.   A great expereince for her and now she is hooked on the sport!

Welcome intendo.wordpress.com Fans

So curiosity got the best of you, huh? 

You are probably wondering why Ryan would link to a blog like mine and why it would be through the word “meaningful”.     My comment.

So maybe my comment was a little harsh. And maybe it was out of place considering it was on a gaming site.  But the  “pro-Nintendo and anti-people” statement?  Come on.

And that is what got my fingers typing.

If you read enough of my posts while you are here,  you will realize that I am seriously concerned and frustrated with where teens are headed today.  I don’t blame television, or games or hip hop music or the Internet or any other supposed influence that is leading to this downfall.  These are merely among the many tools that are used by the real problem.

I blame it on people like me.  Adults, parents, coaches, politicians, teachers – all of these  individuals who are in a position to help shape kids morals, values and priorities and help them mature appropriately.   We are putting our interests first, trying to living vicariously through youth and exploiting them for our own personal gain.

And the result is haunting.  Armed Robberies, anti-Semitic acts, stabbings over a simple misguided comment, teen sex and pregnancy.  I know that none of this is anything new.  It has be going on for generations.  But doesn’t it seem that these things are now so much more a part of everyday life and accepted as the norm rather than being looked upon for what they are?

I am not advocating doing away with what some may consider the negative influences.  I enjoy many of these myself.  But I am an adult.  I understand the difference between reality and fantasy.  And as an adult it is our responsibility to try and limit what our kids are exposed to until they are mature enough to make the distinction.  And when they are exposed, it is our job to present kids with the information to understand this difference. 

So when I see a statement from a young person like  “pro-Nintendo and anti-people” and all the energy being spent reviewing a game, I have to grow concerned about what influences are driving this person.  Is there a balance in their live?  Do they understand that Nintendo is a game?

And yes, I know that they are trying to be humorous through satire or cynicism like the soup kitchen comment. 

So look around while you are here.  Broaden your horizons and see if you can pull yourself away from the console long enough to help someone else.