Pymatuning Valley Local Schools just lost a great baseball coach Monday night, Oct. 8.
With the 4-1 non-renewal of Coach Steve Urchek’s baseball contract, the PV board totally ignored the vast majority of concerned citizens. Seventeen of PV’s 22 current baseball players signed a petition in support of their coach. A large number of those players were in attendance at the meeting. One former player after another stood up and spoke in support of Coach Urchek. Several citizens voiced their support, telling of the positive effect that Coach Urchek had on their sons or daughters.
If the public had been given more than 30 minutes to speak, this support could have gone on for hours. It is absolutely disheartening that a couple of families with an axe to grind can convince a board of education to end Coach Urchek’s baseball coaching career at PV. There is not one person affiliated with PV baseball or the Little League/senior league program in Andover that knows even close to what Coach Urchek knows about baseball. No one else has the contacts around the country like Coach Urchek does.
I also thought it was below the belt to string Coach Urchek along for several months before an actual vote was taken. Much respect goes out to board member Curt Harvey, who was able to think on his own and cast the only yes vote. I was always under the assumption that a board of education represents the citizens of a school district, not a select few outspoken families.
I guess I was wrong.
The scholastic coaching profession is becoming increasingly difficult. Every (OK, not every) parent who coaches Little League or midgets is an expert and knows more than the coach. Every (I’m exaggerating) parent thinks their child is good enough for a college scholarship. No one wants their son or daughter to be “yelled” at. This babying mentality is ultimately going to destroy our nation as a whole.
Do you think our veterans that saved the world from Hitler were coddled? If that were the case, we would be speaking German or Japanese right now. Coach Urchek is from the old school. He had old-school coaches growing up. He was a Division I athlete in college. He knows about tough love. He knows some kids can be yelled at. Some have to be handled in a gentler way. The goal is to help each athlete become the best player and person that he or she can be.
You see, all coaches have different styles. Some are “yellers.” Some never raise their voice. Some are a combination of the two. Any of those styles are fine, as long as the end result is the development of upstanding citizens and athletes.
It was clearly evident that the vast majority of Coach Urchek’s former players appreciate what he has done for them. Even the ones that were often “yelled” at have come back and voiced their appreciation. Even parents from other school districts spoke in support of Coach Urchek for the positive effect that he had on their children (thank you, Mr. George Dragon).
It is also clear that every coach at PV that has ever raised their voice at a player should be concerned about their job. All it takes is a couple of overly vocal families to end a coach’s career. If your son or daughter doesn’t want to go out for the team, or has been cut, just get a list of people who have heard that coach “yell” at a player. You can then brand him as “mean” or “belittling” and get him fired. (Just be in tight with someone on the board, and you can get your way.)
This will ultimately destroy athletics at PV. What coach is going to want to give their heart and soul to a program, knowing that if they raise their voice or “yell” too much, they can lose their job?
Any coach that has coached hundreds or even thousands of players is going to have a couple that don’t see eye to eye with him or her.
I have a few other questions that have been going through my head, in no particular order:
1. Why is it that very few PV coaches attended the meeting? Perhaps it was for the fear of facing similar consequences for speaking their mind (I guess I can’t blame them for that). All I can say, however, is sometimes you have to put your neck on the line and do what’s right.
2. Why is it OK for a certain PV employee to be going around for months politicking for Coach Urchek’s removal (Especially, when the lights on the football field still don’t work properly.)?
3. Why wasn’t Coach Urchek ever called in to give his side of the story?
4. Why wasn’t the JV baseball coach ever asked to give his opinion?
5. How can the opposition state that none of the kids respect him, when almost the entire current team wants him back and clearly voiced its support?
6. How can a family that shows so much support for the Lakers get treated like this? Go to almost any PV event. Mr. and Mrs. Urchek are almost always there. Even events their kids are not involved, they are usually in attendance. Not many have supported PV schools like they have for the past 20 or so years. Not many (if any) put in the time at the school like they do.
7. Is it too late for the board to reconsider?
I hope not.
Pymatuning Valley resident
Proud graduate of Pymatuning Valley
Class of 1990
Jason, you hit this one out of the ballpark, sir. When personal agendas are put ahead of the greater good, this is the kind of thing that happens. I’m sure Steve will have no problem finding another coaching gig, should he desire one. — DM