TO ADULTS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN MANAGING OR COACHING:
Williamstown Cal Ripken League managers and coaches hold a vitally important place in our organization. The kids look to the adults not only for instruction on baseball skills and strategy but also for guidance on attitude and the mental aspects of the game. We want ALL the kids in the program to have fun and to learn to love baseball. Many of us have spent a lifetime enjoying the game of baseball in one way or another, perhaps as players when we were younger, and most likely as lifelong fans of the game. Our league represents a wonderful opportunity for you, as an adult, to get to know and to lead a group of eager and happy children as they experience their formative years in the game. You will also very likely rekindle your own respect, appreciation and love of the game as you watch kids enjoy it and learn it. We want to teach ALL the kids who come to our League how to be eager about and happy with the game of baseball. Baseball is a wonderful game. It’s endlessly challenging, endlessly interesting, and in some ways extremely difficult. As a manager or coach your role will be to teach kids to enjoy the game, and not be afraid of it. The pace of learning is sometimes very, very slow. You’ll need patience and much good humor. But for any manager or coach, seeing a kid – any kid - improve and become excited about the game is the greatest reward there is. All the managers and coaches in all levels of our league are on one team – the team of adults who are working together to see to it that each and every kid on each and every team has fun with their friends, and learns to love the game of baseball.
You should be prepared for a significant time commitment from mid-April through at least mid-June. You should plan on being with your team, either at games or practice, three times per week. You should plan on being willing to devote time to prepare for your practices, and plan and prepare for your games. If the managers and coaches devote the time, and bring the right attitude and approach – one of positive support for all the kids in the League – our League will continue to be, as our mission statement states, “A safe place to dream and succeed.”
If you are interested in managing or coaching in our League you ABSOLUTELY MUST ACCEPT AND SUPPORT THE PHILOSOPHY OF OUR LEAGUE. Our League places winning games far down on the list of priorities. If you feel that winning is all that matters, and that you’ll do anything to see to it that your team wins WE DO NOT WANT YOU TO COACH OR MANAGE IN OUR LEAGUE. We place each and every one of the following values above winning.
- Safety. This is our top priority. If, for example, you think you can teach an 11 year-old to throw a curve ball, and thereby win some games, you have no place in our League as a coach or manager. Go to the safety section of this web site and look at the information from the Berkshire Orthopedic Surgeons web site. If you think the goal of winning a ballgame played by children is worth ruining a kid’s arm, you do not belong in the dugout in this League.
- Respect. We don’t care how talented a kid is. Each and every kid must be taught the importance of being respectful of coaches, the rules, the umps, their opponents, their teammates and themselves. If as a coach you think it’s more important to play a talented but disrespectful kid, than it is to teach the core value of respect, you’re not what we’re looking for.
- Fun. There are a lot of kids in this program. They have dramatically different skill levels. They are all children and they all deserve to be nurtured and encouraged. If you care only about finding the “best” players and giving them all the playing time and attention in order to try to win games, while giving the less talented kids less chance to participate, have fun, and learn, again, you’ve come to the wrong place. If any kid – including a kid who perhaps is not as talented as some other kids on your team - makes a mistake, you need to encourage that kid, not belittle him or her; and you need to teach the other kids on the team to respect everyone. Kids can’t have fun if they’re not being allowed to play, or if they’re getting yelled at every time they make a mistake. Our league is, at its core, a bunch of kids who are outside with their friends having fun, playing ball. As managers and coaches we need always to remember that the game belongs to the kids. This League does not exist for adults with a need to indulge their own competitive natures.
- Learning/Teaching. We want ALL the kids in this league to learn the game. That means as a coach you need to accept the idea that your obligation runs to ALL the kids on your team, and indeed all the kids in the league, both the talented and the not so talented.
If you are a manager or a coach, and your kids play safely, and respectfully, and are having fun, and learning the game – the wins will come. If you care about winning so much that you’re willing to choose to put a kid in danger, or to tolerate cruelty or disrespect, or to make kids sad, or to ignore the obligation to teach all the kids – you’ve come to the wrong place. You shouldn’t manage or coach in this league. All candidates for manager and coaching positions must recognize the paramount importance of the League’s philosophy relative to providing a program in which each and every child will be safe, have fun, learn positive values, and improve their baseball understanding and ability. The primary goal of WCRB is not winning at all costs, and any manager or coach fundamentally disagreeing with this set of values will not be acceptable to WCRB.
Approach to Coaching – Williamstown Cal Ripken Baseball stresses so-called “double goal” coaching. One goal is to teach kids the game of baseball, and how to play it well and to strive for competitive success. One team wins and one team loses. The object of the game is to win. Winning is one goal. It is not, however, the only goal, nor indeed the most important goal. The other, more important, goal is to teach kids a set of values which, when applied, will make their experience enjoyable and which will enhance their capacity to learn in any field. Please take a few minutes to look at the materials on the website of the “Positive Coaching Alliance” (http://www.positivecoach.org). You will find a set of references there. One of the acronyms used at that website is ELM, which stands for Effort, Learning, and Mistakes. We want the kids in this League to give a good effort every time they come out to practice or play. We want them to come with the attitude that each day they are going to learn something, and we want them to be utterly unafraid of making mistakes. Mistakes are part of baseball. We get better at any skill by calmly examining our mistakes, and by making the effort to improve. Fear of making mistakes prevents learning which, in turn, prevents improvement. No manager or coach will belittle any player in this League for making a mistake. We will encourage effort. We will instruct when mistakes happen. We will encourage learning. We will never tell a kid he is a failure because his effort on a particular play or in a particular game didn’t bring about the desired result.
Another acronym from the Positive Coaching Alliance which our league stresses is “ROOTS.” We are going to expect, our managers and coaches to teach, and to stress, without exception and without apology, that all the kids in this League “honor the game” by showing respect for the following five key elements. (1) The Rules of the game of baseball. The kids in this League will play fairly. (2) The Officials (the umpires). They are doing their best. They are fair. They are human. We don’t do our kids any favors by teaching them that when failure comes it is someone else’s fault; and that that someone should therefore be the object of our tantrums. No one in this League will yell at umpires. (3) Their Opponents. We want our kids to learn the habit of cheering for the success of their teammates, not for the failure of others. Playing hard to win is fine. It is an essential ingredient of any game. (Among other things, you rob your opponent of the possibility of any real sense of accomplishment if you don’t try your best to beat him by playing hard within the rules of the game.) On the other hand, lapsing into the need to belittle your opponent is not fine. Belittling one’s opponents is garbage (“trash” is the slang term for it). We don’t want it anywhere near this League. Their Teammates. We cannot have fun or any success if kids are selfish or cruel toward their teammates. (5) ThemSelves. These kids are showing a great deal of courage to play this game. Baseball is a hard game to play. It is very complicated. There are frequent opportunities for very public failure. We want the kids in this League to learn to welcome the opportunity to take risks, to take on challenges, and to be proud of themselves for doing so. We also want them to learn to maintain their own respectful conduct even if – especially if – others around them don’t. Learning to maintain one’s dignity in the midst of immature behavior by others is a valuable life skill. We want our kids to learn to respect themselves enough not to indulge the impulse to conform their conduct to the lowest available example.