Pat’s Bits & Pieces- Meeting airs parent concerns with tryouts

September 13, 2013

Pat Maurer, Review Correspondent

pat maurerI had an opportunity to attend a special meeting Monday about the process for the Clare Freshman Volleyball tryouts held in August.

This is a tough one to write about, but it was pretty interesting. Some parents have been concerned with the way the tryouts were conducted this year and whether there was favoritism in the team selection process.

I almost didn’t get to attend because of this job. I was told the media wasn’t invited, that the meeting was only for parents. I believe that was the first time I have ever been told I couldn’t attend a meeting.

My comment that I was not only a reporter, but also a grandmother of one of the students who tried out for the team, changed that and I was able to go in after all.

My take on the meeting is that the tryout process needs a bit of work. Mainly that things, particularly the rules, should be explained more clearly to parents, so there won’t be the impression of favoritism.

To explain, during a three day tryout process recently, 14 of 26 incoming high school students who earned the highest points were selected for the fall freshmen team based on a system that awarded points for various Volleyball “tests”. Those who scored highest made the team.

Several parents have said they were told that attendance at the tryouts was a mandatory thing if the students wanted to try out for the team and that there would be no exceptions to that rule.

According to Facebook posts by one upset parent, Tara Hovey, there were exceptions made and one student, vacationing with parents at the time of the tryouts and unable to attend, was given an individual tryout after the rest of the students had already attended the main sessions.

On Facebook, Hovey said one parent whose daughter wanted to try out for the team didn’t realize that a physical report was necessary to try out and because she didn’t have the document to turn in; her daughter lost all of the points awarded for the first of the three days. On the second day, with the physical report in hand, the student completed the last two sessions of the tryouts. Her parent’s request that the student be allowed to make up the first session was denied and she was told there was no exceptions – that attendance was mandatory. Hovey said that student had scored 15th in the number of points even though she missed the first session. She stressed that the student was not her own daughter who scored 17th place in points and did not make the team.

At the special meeting with parents Monday evening, Athletic Director Dan Haggart said there were actually two students who had individual tryouts after the main sessions. “Only one of those two scored high enough to make the team,” he said.

The following week after the main tryouts, one student, who was on vacation with family when the tryouts were held, was allowed to try out in an individual session and a week after that a second student, who was also away with family at the time, was also given a chance to try out for the team on an individual basis.

When one of the first 14 students chosen for the team dropped out, the second student, who subsequently received points putting her in the 15th position, was added to the team.

On Facebook, Hovey posted, “My daughter Maddie was outraged and thought that the spot should have been given to the girl who [originally] scored 15th place. She was outraged that the other young lady wasn’t able to make up the try out day she missed but the new member of the team obviously was. She kept asking me why the young lady in question didn’t have to follow the same rules as everybody else.” Hovey said she went to administrators to ask why some students get preferential treatment. She said, “The administration’s position is that the young lady was not given a make-up or special tryout but rather an ‘opportunity’ because it is their duty to give opportunities to children.”

At the meeting with parents Monday evening I just listened while Haggart explained the process used for the tryouts. In explaining the individual sessions he said, “This was not a make-up tryout. We want all girls and boys to have an opportunity to try out. That was our logic behind the decision.”

My own daughter Lisa Thayer, who happens to be the parent of one of the students who didn’t score high enough for the team, said she understood the process and wasn’t upset that her daughter, who was also told she scored 17th, didn’t make the team, but was concerned that, “I was told the three day try out session was mandatory, so we cancelled our vacation plans so our daughter could be there. There was nothing in there saying, ‘call us to make other arrangements’.”

Other parents also said they thought attendance at the tryouts was mandatory if a student wanted to be on the team. One parent at the meeting said she had been told by three other mothers that they were under the same impression.

It sounded like a serious lack of communication to me.

Haggart replied, “We will have to look at the process for the tryouts so that doesn’t happen again.” He added, “We want all freshmen girls and boys to have an opportunity to try out for teams, but this opportunity is only for freshmen.”

Hovey questioned, “There should not be one freshmen sport that gets that break, and asked Haggart if freshmen boys could still try out for football?”

Haggart said yes, providing they completed the required conditioning. “They could be on the team, but would not be able to play until the mandatory conditioning was completed,” he said.

He added that other sports do not have that mandatory requirement and that any freshman wanting to join can join a team at any time. “This is only for freshmen,” he said and noted that Volleyball is the only sport limited with tryouts.

Lisa also reported that she didn’t know that the physical forms were necessary to try out until she called on another issue. “I was lucky,” she said, “I changed my daughter’s appointment, so she could try out.”

“You need to let parents know these things,” she said, later adding, “You need to be fair to all of the students.”
You know, I have to agree with her.

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One Response to Pat’s Bits & Pieces- Meeting airs parent concerns with tryouts

  1. concerned parent Reply

    September 20, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    This is not the only girls sport that is not equal to every student. A coach can say that playing time “isnt planned but could be earned” in the parent meeting. But then tell the athelete they wont be playing much and if they are okay with this when practice has just started and not even any games… Typical for the sports at this district….

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