Column: "The Sports Trail": Tiger teams in back seat as season heads downhill

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

by David McNeal

My boss, Bob Moore, popped through the office today and woke me out of my usual Monday stupor.

"Hey, Dave," he called brightly, as he is apt to do, no matter how dark and dreadful the day is. "We're only a month away from the basketball district tournaments! We're on the downhill now!"

I glanced carelessly at my calendar, and . . . .


Can you believe it? Seems like teams just started practicing, you know, back in August. Of course, those were just the official practices, not the summer games that go on from June til. . . Then there's the off-season practices, the ones that start about a week after a team's last game in March.

Yep, we're on the downhill of a season that appears to never end. For some schools, that is great. For the Green Forest basketball teams, it doesn't apply.

The Tiger teams are struggling this year, in spite of valiant efforts from the two coaches who were brave enough to step into the situation with those teams, Jim Goins and Mike Hampton.

Wins have been few, even though the kids are trying. Problem is, there has been so much criticism, interference, and grief directed toward former coaches from fans, parents, and administrators the program now is limping.

It was given another kick this fall when the administration decreed that practices for out-of-season sports would not take place during traditional times.

During volleyball and football season, those athletes got the gym (or field) during the day, and also after school. The only way two-sport athletes could practice was after those in-season practices finished, late in a long day.

Why? Because the basketball coaches were working with the other fall sports. Also, teams, and senior and elementary physical education classes have to share two gyms ---- at the same time during the school day.

Yep, while the other basketball players in the 1AAA conference were working on their basketball skills during the school day, then working at other sports after school, the Green Forest kids who wanted to play two sports this year were basically shut out of practice.

It was explained that, as the "next" season got closer, kids could work one or two days a week to get ready. But with coaches obligated to spend their time with the current sport, the "next" one got neglected.

The results are in the team records. Last week the senior boys were 0-9, the senior girls were 2-9, the junior boys were 1-6, and the junior girls were 4-3. That's 7-34 overall.

The simple truth is, the players at Green Forest haven't had the same time to build their skills as the people they are asked to compete against. That is a shame for a Tiger program that once had to take a back seat to no one.

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