Jul 2, 2012 9:51 AM
****AN OPEN LETTER TO ORANGE COUNTY DYNASTY 18U , ANGELOBELTRAN and JAY PARRA ****
I am writing this letter because we were not afforded theopportunity to speak with you in private. I feel the only way to voice myopinion of you and your organization is in a public forum since you feel thatsharing any insight into your decisions and team direction is a personal matterand not for discussion and ultimately only benefits certain goals that haveincreasingly become selfish and not at all a benefit to the spirit of OC DYNASTY18U or even player development and team chemistry.
As a business owner and manager, I have a particularunderstanding of people dynamics: egos, abilities, goals and expectations. Itis difficult to be a good manager. I have come to find out that in dealing withboth Angelo and Jay, that you may be fine coaches but you lack a key element tolead a team as a manager and more importantly an 18 and under Girls travel softballteam. I think you grossly fail to understand what the overall intention is tomanage a team at this level and succeed. You not only have to manage and coacha team but you have to manage their ultimate expectations and be a judge ofskills, expectations of the players, match them to the teams needs and be fairto the players regarding what their role, both present and future may be.
You have chosen, in my humble opinion, to run OC Dynastysolely as a profit center. Unfortunately your decisions as a manager devastatesthe players that have put so much trust into your abilities to lead them intothe next stage in their lives and future into college softball if there is adesire.
I would like to outline what my expectations of a manager atyour level to be.
#1. Coach a team to the best of his ability. Lead by exampleand be present for practices or facilitate regular practices that are run welland organized. You have some fine coaches and trainers and I think they do verywell in their rolls.
#2. Manage a team. This includes keeping morale high andgiving praise when due and being critical when appropriate. I am not a fan offavoritism and feel baseball/softball is a game of 75% statistics and 25% ‘feel’.Unfortunately, you fail to keep any statistics and your memory does not suiteither of you to remember who the players who have the lower fielding error %or even a batting %, Slugging %, OB% and so on…these are vital stats and youseem to manage from memory or other factors alien to many people on the teamand to parents. It is also imperative to ensure a team dynamic. This includesbut is not limited to making sure certain players are not exempt from dutiesand responsibilities because they are upper classmen or newbies on the team.Newbies and lower classmen clean up and haul equipment, but seniors should notbe allowed to have a free pass to miss practice or games because of trivial personalconflicts. You are either a team or not. It is important to maintain a teamchemistry or it will cause a cancer to build on a team and create a division.Seniors are leaders and set the example for everyone on the team. They are yourveterans and since you have bred a culture of favoritism, it has festered intoresentment and team division. That is clear to everyone but both of you. In mymilitary experience, you break down and build back up, no individuals. Youexpect the 20 year vet to be right there with the newbie on the line. It’s whathappens in action so it will happen in drills too. It’s the right thing to doand teaches unity.
#3. Manage expectations of players and parents. This ispossibly the most complex aspect of your job since it is a delicate task butsuch an understated one. Unfortunately you do not even consider this as a taskand ignore it completely. Coaches, coach. Managers, Manage. Managing means to alignthe expectations of the coaches with the progress of player performance. Ifeither is out of alignment, a decision should be made. Either the player is anot a good fit and therefore does not have a future on the team; or express tothat player exactly what role they will fit on the team until that expectationis met. It is a delicate matter but you both fail to express any of this. Specificexamples are not important but understand that these young women put all theirtrust into both of you to help them get to the next level should they feel theywould like to proceed. Many times this is the first time a player has had anyexperience at this level and has never had the advice of a sibling or parent inthis pre college or recruiting period. They rely on you to prepare them formany items, not just showing up at practice and throwing balls or hitting intoa net. Both the players and parents expect and welcome your guidance in thiscritical phase of recruiting. There should be a meeting somewhere within the seasonand possible follow-ups on what the players need to do and what parents need todo to help. As many fundraisers as you had and events that the parents wereasked to work snack bar for other teams or even leagues, you failed to have evenone lasting meeting or organized session to address these needs, questions,facilitate an organized plan to send out letters or emails to college coaches. Ifyou coached a 12U or 14U club, it would have been different, but at the 18Ulevel, there are more expectations and involvement and questions that should bea pivotal part of managing a team with people in this delicate situation.Deadlines need to be met, contact needs to be made, lists should be generated,communication needs to be clear and expectations need to be established. I willsay that if the parents and players were given or at least coordinated theirefforts as much as you coordinate your fundraising, we would have had morerecruiters watching the team and a more successful turnout.
#4. Manage the administrative needs of the team. By this I meanmoney. You run a for profit team and that is clear and apparent. $100+ in duesa month from over 22 girls at one point plus fundraising that generatesthousands more and all under the guise that you pay the city of Fullerton forfield expenses and use of their facilities from OC Dynasty coffers. I challengethat assertion and feel that is not the case. If over $20,000 is collected indues and over $6,000 is collected in fundraising both through turnarounds, pokerparties, alcohol sales, football pools and snack bar concessions and then thousandsof dollars more from fielding your own tournaments on city fields you control,where you charge $400-$500 a team during those 4 tourneys a year is not enough,you also choose to charge for uniforms. I personally paid you for a glove formy daughter and nearly 9 months later you delivered it from the sponsor andnoted “supply issues”. That glove was already bootlegged in china, shipped on aboat and made it to LA’s Santee Alley. You gave away gloves at tourneys as prizesbut did not supply player paid for gear until 9 months later? If you are goingto be a for profit club, please do not make parents work countless snack barsthroughout the year only to stuff your pockets. That is unfair and immoral. Tellthem you are for profit and that the dues are $400 a month and that the reasonis that you are a champion club and deserve that money to offset the amount ofwork you put into managing and coaching a Junior Olympic team, while producingan impressive track record as proof. You should be ashamed that both of youprofit on the backs of these girls/parents who put their trust into you and youput so little back into their program in return. A for profit team should deliver on its incomein the form of results and unfortunately you do not provide that to the parentsputting in the time and money into your program. The girls are not an eliteteam not because of their lack of abilities, but because they are not managedin a way to pull the best out of them, to rise in pressure situations, togarner confidence from their coaches whom trust in them and players reciprocatethat trust. You should be honest with the monetary situation of the team asmany teams are and never have anyone question your integrity or purposes behindthe club, which is unfortunately in question due to your blindness and greed.
#5. Get the Girls Signed! The ultimate goal for some ofthese girls is playing in college. IT WOULD BE MY HONOR IF I COULD COACH A TEAMAND KNOW THAT I HELPED GET THEM INTO A SCHOOL WITH MY HELP! Unfortunately I haveserious doubts either of you take this goal seriously at all. You should have,and I think all coaches should have a recruiting liaison to help in this. In myopinion, this should include a ‘HOW TO” of some sort or to make sure everyparent is aware of the process and expectations of the manager, coach, playerand parent. You have to assume to some degree that some people have never hadany experience with this are looking to you for guidance. You have been throughthis supposedly and should help quell some of the fear and anxiety of thisprocess. I personally would have coordinated at least a meeting of the parentsto make a list of schools and the contacts and emails. Spread out that responsibility,then combine them all and spread the list around: all the Div 1, 2 and 3schools. Have the girls look into the school they like and pick the top 50 thatfit their needs and desires, then help the parents construct a letter and emailas a guide. At certain times tell the parent and players to start makingcontact and give their list to the managers to maintain as well. You should knowwhat sort of goals the players have and maybe adjust them if they are too highor low in an ‘honest’ way. You both are their guide in some way in a verycritical point in their softball career. You ultimately, in my experience,completely ignored that aspect and never provided adequate or any guidance. It’snot very hard and once you do it once, it really is self sustaining. It’s a collaborationand team project, just as fundraising is so important to both of you. Duringshowcases, you should play the girls who need the most attention when there arescouts, but do not ignore the girls that are not signed when there are noscouts for one simple reason. NO PLAYING TIME CREATES A LOT OF PRESSURE WHEN THEREIS PLAYING TIME! It must be one of my biggest issues with both of you. Softballis a game, as baseball, of statistics, which I know you do not take forwhatever crazy reason!!! A player that never gets action and then when a scoutcomes to ask about a player is not warm or ready to conquer the situation. Mostof the unsigned girls during your past showcase did not see action at all andif so, possibly a few at bats and barely an inning or two of fielding over 8games. There is a time and place to play to win and if you are not cut out towin with the unsigned girls, then you should not be playing in that tourney.The tourney to win with your signed players is the non showcases, which youwere given that opportunity. Again, there is a time and place. You have to knowyour limits and if you would have kept statistics and known what you werereally there to do, you may have left with a more satisfied team. A team thatfielded the best players when need be and left the destiny of the team to thenon signed players when their opportunities were presented to shine. They shouldhave been given that clear opportunity and not punished or otherwise benchedwhen they made an error in their one inning or popup in their one at bat. Yourseniors have put in their hard work and it was time for the unsigned players tomake their stand. You could not have made that possible because all season youdid not produce team chemistry and confidence in your players. Did you keepthem only for dues? They were apparently not backups, because you use pick upplayers to fill in for starters when they are hurt. How does that help teamchemistry?
You should also be engaging in your recruiting efforts withall college coaches that would come to watch your team or game. Why Not? It wasmy understanding that a college coach came to watch a player this past week andyou refused to put her in for that showcase because it may have possibly threatenedyour ability to win. Do you have such low confidence in your players to notplay them when our expectations is to play them for college representatives? That’swhy parents and players worked hard for you all year!
I am not a difficult parent (although this letter may nothelp my case). I have never stood up or questioned your coaching choices untilwe quit your team over what you did during the most important showcase of theyear to all the non signed players. You devastated the goals of those playersthat all year have worked extremely hard for you and were the future of yourteam. Ultimately, I do not know how many will continue to be a part of yoursham, but I want to state that there is some phenomenal talent on that teamboth leaving to college and in the trenches. Unfortunately due to your actions,the cancer that is killing that team is named Angelo and Jay. You are killingthat team by not making it a team. These non signed players have a role on yourteam. But at some point that torch must be passed and to breed confidence, showwhat players can do and show that a practice queen is not necessarily the same asa gamer. I know that you have your favorites. That is clearly apparent. But tobring back a signed pickup player that quit the team months ago and start herover girls that have worked hard for you all year is inexcusable. There is no explanationthat can justify that decision and I do not expect an answer. It will only giveme a lower opinion of either of you if you attempt one. I love collegeathletics over professional because of the mindset of the player. I knowneither of you enjoy college over pro in our short conversations. So this maybe alien to both of you but college athletics is simply more intense. It is notthe sheer ability as all teams are not created equal, but it is the reason whyan Appalachian State can beat a Michigan or a Baylor can get to the Finals thatmakes college sports so damn exciting. The players play for something otherthan money (most of the time). They play for pride, they play for theopportunity and they play for their team and school. They know that for most ofthem, this is the highest they will ever play the game that they have playedalmost their entire life. Both of you underestimate the non signed players andoverestimate the signed ones on your team. It is not the seniors abilities butit is their mentality and what you have chosen to accept or expect out of thembecause they are signed or have accomplished in the past. If you want to managea team and improve overall team chemistry, you need to ensure clear and definedrolls and vocalize your strategy so there is no team confusion. You need toknow your girls and what to expect out of them at the stage in their life andcareer. The signed players serve a purpose and should be there to ensure andmaintain the reputation of the team and its legacy, while the underclassmen andnon signed players should be the ones that are being groomed to face challengesand have plenty of opportunity to be placed in pressure situations and gametime moments to raise to those occasions and gain those valuable experiencesthat the signed girls have had and enjoyed. You have some amazing and talentedseniors and they should be required to help groom those other and work just ashard to set a precedence. There are certain tournaments in my opinion that aredesigned for your signed players and should you feel fit to play your “BEST”squad, then do so. But I do not believe showcases are that venue. I personallythink there were some unsigned players on your team that were hungrier thansome of the signed ones on your team that you chose to field but that is myopinion. If you would have kept statistics throughout the season you would haveseen this trend. It was easy to spot who wanted it more at pickup games whengiven a chance. I hope by failing to qualify for the tourney during Fireworks2012 with your results this year, you rethink your future strategy.
I think the team has some talented girls and I will missseeing them play but you did not get the full potential out of these girls,created a team that never manifested a winning attitude and blinded yourselfwith the profits you could make from running a travel team instead ofreinvesting it toward a successful team. If you ever want to succeed, you both shouldstick to coaching and get a new manager, but your ego will never let thathappen. You are poor at what you do in your present capacity and your objectivesare misguided and downright repulsive. You hold so much responsibility and youhave a closed door policy to discussion on player development, mutual expectationsand consistently send a mixed signal on team roles and goals. Athletes do notwin games! A ‘team’ of athletes does…Both of you are unapproachable and givemisguided answers. You say one thing and do something completely opposite. Itis not fair to give players hope on your team and never give them anopportunity to see game time, even in friendlies, not to mentions anytournaments. By carrying over 20 girls and not managing the expectation of bothparents and players, you fail miserably. I am reasonable and do not expect mykid to start every game or even a majority, but I should see progress and some definedrole, present or future on the team. Whether a backup within some fair depthlevel or a utility position that is somewhat defined and clear. I am happy thatmy daughter did see more game time than most of the non signed players and I thankyou for that, but that is solely based on merit and I would expect that. If youhadn’t carried so many girls, you may have fielded a decent team where everyonegets good game time and builds their experience and confidence, you would havebeen more successful. There were plenty of other girls that earned thatopportunity based on merit but because you relied on what some players did inthe long ago past, you persisted with them. You clearly do not understand thementality change of a senior that has signed or a young woman that has gonefrom 16 to 17 to 18. Some of these girls handle it differently and shift their prioritiesand some maintain their goals and never let off or take for granted their rolesor gifts. There are some players from both of those categories and it’s yourjob to identify and adjust to those changes. If you were more attentive tothese girls, kept an open mind and understood who was working harder andproduced more in the present and not the past, you would have succeeded and notfailed as you did, and will continue to if changes are not made.
I do not expect a reply from either of you. You could notgather your thoughts long enough to put them down in word before you probablystart thinking about some new fundraising idea. You have said everything veryclearly with your management skills, or lack thereof. I implore anyone that isreading this to engage these two individuals often and question early if youconsider being on their team. If you sit back and hope things will improve orthe right thing will ultimately be done, I assure you, it will not. Unlesstheir attitudes change toward the goals of this club, they will only go as faras the athleticism of the individual girls will take them, but never form intoa cohesive team and match expectations of worthy players and parents alike.Please gentlemen, GET OUT OF SOFTBALL. You are doing more harm than good to playerswho need you the most at this stage.
Craigslist is full of hacks looking for work that claim tobe pros at construction or plumbing or whatever. Anyone can claim anything oncraigslist and still charge for it because there is no regulation of thatplace. Unfortunately the same may be said of Travel softball and you guys arethe CRAIGSLIST COACHES.
Angelo, You should limp your way out of softball andconcentrate on yelling at kids stepping on your lawn from your front porch. ( Ican just see that for some reason)
Jay, you should open a snack bar and put Lawry’s seasoningon everything and make that your second job. Or just get a shopping cart andpeddle mangos or shrimp cocktails at friendlies. I know how much you would hateto lose that softball money.
Since this is an open letter, I also posted this on a few localsoftball forums. If you would like to reply, please do so so everyone can hearyour voice and defense, but I do not expect one.