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Almost 1AM - I'm sad and upset and can't sleep - update post 15


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DS is 11. This is his third year doing boys' competitive gymnastics (JO level 6). When he went in to practice today, we found out that they fired one of the 2 coaches for a violation of the new Safe Sport policies (proactive section). After hearing the gym's reason, I would say there was poor judgement on the coach's part but nothing egregious. I think the gym overreacted but I'm trying to see it from their POV. Regardless, this was my son's primary coach and the one who really challenged and motivated him. My son is devastated and, frankly, so am I.

 

I asked the director of the gym how the one coach is going to cover levels 4-10. She said they were trying to figure it out but it took them 6 months last time to hire a coach and we're just beginning meet season. Practice today was a mess as the remaining coach stood between the 2 practice groups keeping an eye on them, but really not working with either group. My son said he always learns "something" at practice, but not today. I left a message at another gym to explore moving him, but it's further away from the house and I'm not sure how it would impact competing this year. They also have fewer rec classes, so younger DS who does 3 days of rec classes would lose his activities.

 

I feel like my world (I function based on consistency and routine) has been upended. I'm trying to remember that God has a plan, but I can't stop crying - for my sons, the coach, and selfishly for myself. I don't know how I'm going to function tomorrow on no sleep, never mind try to teach the boys.

Edited by Jkacz
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I think I know how you feel. My DD's beloved band teacher abruptly took a leave of absence and then "retired" earlier this fall without a word of explanation from him or the school district. She had played in his bands for 4 years and was in his class daily. DD and I were both literally grieving about the loss of his talent and leadership, the change in the program, and concern for what the issue was. Was he, a seemingly amazing man, a risk to kids? After a few crazy weeks they got a long-term sub and things have stabilized. It took us both weeks to calm down and accept what can't be changed. 

 

I am sorry. I get it. Try to hang in there and see how it shakes out.  :grouphug:

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I just finished the safesport course and they pretty much preach zero tolerance even though they say to use common sense. And then, they remind you that gyms can be sanctioned for not reporting misconduct. The message is honestly a bit confusing. The gym is also not required to tell you everything, so maybe the firing was warranted?

 

Either way, you need to do what’s best for your kid. It is not safe to have one coach cover two groups for an extended time, ESPECIALLY during meet season when they need focused coaching. The new gym may not let him compete, but probably will, and who knows, maybe they’ll have a spot for your younger son on pre-team? Or maybe he will find something new to do in that area. Maybe you will find somebody to carpool with!

 

Or maybe they’ll hire somebody great in the next couple of weeks! No matter what, you can’t change what happened today, and it’s a sign of great emotional empathy that you feel bad for everybody involved. If you’re upset, take a day off and remember that consistency and routine are Generally a luxury.

 

Or maybe that’s just MY life :p

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I'm sorry.  Give it a little time though.  This just happened today (well, yesterday, by now!), and a lot can change again in even a week!  They might find a new coach quickly who is even better than the other.   Or maybe another option altogether that you haven't even considered will present itself.   A little time off isn't going to make or break anything though.

 

In any event, safety is more important of course.  Wait and see how this plays out.  It'll be okay.   :grouphug:

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No question, this is a terrible time to have to fire a coach. It's likely going to be hard for all the athletes at the gym.

 

I would not assume the gym was acting on "just poor judgement". They are not required to disclose all facts. The precipitating event could have been worse than described to you. Keep in mind you liked the coach so you are evaluating the facts given against your bias in his favor. Additionally, there could have been multiple "poor judgement" events and this was just the final in which the gym had to decide they couldn't tolerate more--ultimately they are required to protect the athletes not give the coach chances to correct his behavior.

 

I'm sure you are doing this, try to be positive with your DS so that whatever practice time he has can be useful. Your DS won't benefit from hearing you agree the gym is unfair. If you feel that way, save any opinion you share for after you leave.

 

It stinks. Money, time, juggling family needs.

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I'm sorry.  Give it a little time though.  This just happened today (well, yesterday, by now!), and a lot can change again in even a week!  They might find a new coach quickly who is even better than the other.   Or maybe another option altogether that you haven't even considered will present itself.   A little time off isn't going to make or break anything though.

 

In any event, safety is more important of course.  Wait and see how this plays out.  It'll be okay.   :grouphug:

 

Yes, this! Giving it a little time is important. 

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No question, this is a terrible time to have to fire a coach. It's likely going to be hard for all the athletes at the gym.

 

I would not assume the gym was acting on "just poor judgement". They are not required to disclose all facts. The precipitating event could have been worse than described to you. Keep in mind you liked the coach so you are evaluating the facts given against your bias in his favor. Additionally, there could have been multiple "poor judgement" events and this was just the final in which the gym had to decide they couldn't tolerate more--ultimately they are required to protect the athletes not give the coach chances to correct his behavior.

 

I'm sure you are doing this, try to be positive with your DS so that whatever practice time he has can be useful. Your DS won't benefit from hearing you agree the gym is unfair. If you feel that way, save any opinion you share for after you leave.

 

It stinks. Money, time, juggling family needs.

 

All of this is important. Especially being positive around son.

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I'm sorry. We've had similar things happen and it's hard.

 

I think the first thing you need to do is decide if you trust gym management. If you do, remind yourself they did what they felt best, having all the information and knowing they might lose athletes and they'd definitely upset some. If you don't, it's time to move gyms.

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Thank you everyone. I took a scalding hot shower around 2 and finally fell asleep around 3. I woke up about 7. DS has crawled into bed with me and fallen back asleep like he used to do when he was little. At 11, that's rare, so I haven't gotten up.

 

As I said, I'm trying to give the gym benefit of the doubt, but I truly think it was an overreaction due to fear of Safe sport. I don't know if I trust management at the gym, to be honest. My judgment might be clouded because the assistant director reminds me of one of those mean girls from my school days. I like the gym director and think she does the best she can. The remaining coach is a great guy. The problem is that gymnastics is an inherently dangerous sport. My son practices 3 hours a day, 4 days a week. The level 8-10s are 4 hours a day, 6 days a week. No coach, no matter how good he is, can be in 2 places at one time. The boys need spotting and feedback, not just supervision from someone standing 20 feet away. It's not safe and not what I'm paying for.

 

I have a phone call into the other gym. As I said to DS, it's good to explore options so we can make informed choices. At the same time, I'm giving the gym a day or two to come up with a plan to cover gym time. I would expect that even if the coach had unexpectedly quit.

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It's also possible that your son's coach will find a coaching job at another gym, and you can follow him there.

I'm agreeing with the others who are encouraging you to maybe just wait a few days and see how things play out. 

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I've been in nearly every aspect of your position.  My daughter changed gyms once in the middle of a season; she competed for one gym on Saturday, started at the second on Monday, and only missed one meet (and that was only because it was too late to get a flight to Dallas for the next Friday).  She's had a gym fire a coach mid-season for not-quite-violations-of-Safe-Sport.  We've had a gym become suddenly understaffed during meet season.  I completely understand your distress and worry; I had exactly the same reaction every time.  I just want to encourage you, though, to stay positive in front of your son but to fight for him however you need to.  Also, be open with the gym about your concerns.  In return, they should be transparent with you about how long it is going to take to get a coach in there.  Is it a week or two?  Fine.  If they are starting from scratch and have zero leads?  I would look at the new gym ASAP.  You might also try to encourage them to take some unorthodox steps to fill in the gap, like scheduling morning practices for some of the kids for a while, or bringing in a group on Sunday afternoons when there is not a meet scheduled, just something to try to keep the coach/gymnast ratio manageable while also getting the kids a sufficient number of reps.  (Just a word of warning, though--whenever I suggested this at one of our gyms, I got SHOT DOWN so fast you'd think I'd asked for a kidney.  But I digress. . ..)

 

FWIW, my daughter spent substantial time at 4 competitive gyms, over 10 or 11 years, and I only trusted management at one of them.  Gym owners are worse than used car salesmen in my book.  Try not to get emotionally involved with management or with coaches.  Just treat it like it is a business arrangement.  Your kids can (and will) get emotionally involved, but you will serve them best by not doing so.

 

Finally, if you change gyms, you may forfeit some of your meet entry fees, but if your new gym and old gym were going to the same meets, sometimes the meet coordinators will transfer your entry for you if you contact the meet director directly and ask.  To them, the meet entry fee usually belongs to the gymnast, not the gym.  

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  • 1 month later...

Update: I just wanted to post a quick update.

 

I gave the old gym 2 weeks to come up with a coaching plan. Their solution was to bring over 1 of the girls' Excel coaches with no experience in mens' gymnastics for the 6's. And then, on Martin Luther King Day, when they had the opportunity to split upper and lower practices and have the head coach train both groups, they chose not to. We tried out a new gym the following week and officially moved DS January 19th. We have now been at the new gym 3 weeks.

 

DS is extremely happy. He is the weakest of their 6's skill wise as he had been competing division 2 at the old gym all season and not working on bonuses, but the coaches and boys are all encouraging, wonderful people. DS missed a couple of meets waiting for a uniform to come in but competed for the first time this weekend for the new team (ironically at the old gym).

 

What a difference 3 weeks of good training makes! The new coach had DS compete Division 1 and his score was 4 points higher than his last meet - not due to bonuses as he only has 1. He did compete 1 new skill that he's been struggling with all year (back tuck on floor). His coach said after the meet that now that he has his base routines, they can start working on bonuses.

 

In the end, as hard of an experience as this was emotionally, switching gyms is probably one of the best things that could have happened for DS. Thank you to all of you for your support!

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