It was March 6, 2004, and the Dexter Bearcat basketball team had just beaten Lutheran South to advance to the school's first-ever trip to the Final Four. Dexter fans were chanting "Sitze for President," in reference to the team's coach Eric Sitze. Today, all is silent.
You see, in today's sports section we are running a story about Coach Sitze stepping down as head basketball coach at Dexter. For those who don't follow high school basketball it may mean nothing but to those who do it is alarming.
Sitze just ended his fifth season as coach of the Bearcats and in his first four seasons Dexter went 24-4, 21-5, 23-8, 21-6. Besides a trip to the Final Four, Sitze's teams also won four Bloomfield Christmas Tournament titles along with other tournaments. Simply put, his teams were considered one of the best in Southeast Missouri.
However, this past season Sitze's team went 10-16 and Dexter fans turned on him as fast as a cat turns on a mouse. Nevermind the fact his team was young and wasn't very talented. Nope. He apparently forgot how to coach.
So after Dexter's season, parents and fans cried to school board members that Sitze had to go. At a school board meeting on March 28, things came to a head but when the smoke cleared the school board voted to re-employ Sitze as head basketball coach. But why stay where you aren't wanted? So, Sitze resigned.
It just goes to show what a thankless job coaching is. Whether you are coaching a professional sport or pee wee soccer, you had better be ready to deal with parents and fans who don't approve of the job you do. And if you win today, great, but you had better win tomorrow too.
I personally couldn't coach high school athletics. I coach church league basketball and that is tough enough. But I don't know how high school coaches deal with parents and the pressure of winning.
One of the complaints I've heard was that Sitze was too hard on his players. While I don't know Coach Sitze other than an occassional interview and seeing him on the sidelines, I haven't seen him be any harder on his players than other coaches I have seen.
But then I tend to forget that coaching today doesn't involve raising your voice. Instead of yelling at a player for passing the ball to the other team's cheerleaders you are supposed to call them over and politely tell them that while the cheerleaders are pretty, they should pass the ball to their teammates. What's next? Are parents going to get upset because a coach is angrily staring at their kid?
Sometimes you have to raise your voice just to get kids to pay attention to you. After all, they are just kids. They don't exactly focus on the task at hand all of the time. But you can't convince mom and dad of that. Oh no, their precious little angel never does anything wrong.
And that is something else that burns my butt. One would think that a coach of a team would actually know more than the parents but not in this day and age. Mommy and daddy know more. Their precious little angel needs to play more or doesn't get to take enough shots.
Here is an idea mom and dad. Instead of complaining about your kids playing time, ask the coach what you can do to help your child improve. Then maybe they'll play more and maybe the team will win more. But no, it's a lot easier to blame the faults of the player on the coach.
Maybe that is why there has been a rash of coaching jobs open this year. New Madrid County Central, Twin Rivers, Doniphan, Poplar Bluff, Oran and several others have all seen coaches leave for one reason or another. Gone are the days where a coach stays for years and years.
As someone who was born and raised in Dexter I'm embarrassed with what has transpired over the last few months in my hometown. You would think they would be looking forward to next season when most of their team returns and a good young group moves up. Instead they are now looking for a new coach.
I am sure there will be plenty of good, qualified applicants throw their name in the hat for the job. But if you were a coach, would you feel comfortable if you went in and had a poor season next year? Keep in mind, 99 wins in five years wasn't good enough and now Dexter is looking for someone else to be "president."