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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Senior Night- How Should Coaches Handle?

This past week, I had a conversation with a high school coach who discussed how "Senior Night" can turn into a difficult situation sometimes for a coach and for a team. His basic question centered around how a coach should handle playing time and starting for the senior players. There are many players, many parents, and many coaches who have differing perspectives on how the night should go. While coaches may have differing perspectives on how to handle Senior Night, all of the coaches want to honor the seniors in their program. I don't think the differing approaches to senior night are due to some coaches not wanting to honor their seniors.

I don't remember how my high school coach handled Senior Night. In college, Coach Knosher always started the seniors on Senior Night. I don't know what he did if more than five seniors were involved. In my career at Knox, I had come off the bench half of my junior and seniors years, and started half of those seasons. Before Senior Night, I went to Coach Knosher and told him on Senior Night I preferred to come off the bench like I was doing at the time. I expressed I felt comfortable in the role of coming off the bench. Coach Knosher, said I would be starting because he felt strongly it was an important expression of appreciation to seniors.

My logic as a player was based on my feeling my role coming off the bench was valuable, important, and something I was comfortable doing. I honestly felt by starting on Senior Night, it was in a way expressing my bench role was not as important.

As years have gone, I have never started seniors on senior night. I have seen too many senior nights where the coach would start seniors, play them for 2-3 minutes and then yank them out. In some situations, it becomes a situation where seniors placed in a role which is not their normal role may have a bad experience. They may start and their team may be down 8-10 points and never catch up. In my earlier conversation with a coach, they explained in their Senior Night, he started the seniors, they got behind, lost the game, and some of the seniors were upset because they felt the coach chose not to compete on Senior Night.

My belief has been we honor seniors before the game on Senior Night. The ceremony to honor them is the special part of the night, the game is to compete. On Senior Night as a coach, I try to get all of the seniors into the game, and in most cases have been successful.

Other people would strongly disagree with my logic. I had a mother from a neighboring community tell me a couple years ago the coach at their school was being fired, in part because he did not start seniors on Senior Night.

Other people would also so say, so what if the team loses on Senior Night, it is more important to honer those dedicated players than it is to worry about winning a game.

Answer the poll on my blog to show what you think should be done on Senior Night. Thanks.

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