Too important to Share the Practice Field
If your team is like ours, it’s tough to find practice fields. And, once you find a good field it’s tough to share it with anyone. Trust me, I’ve been on both sides of this dilemma. I am pretty good about sharing practice fields if we have enough space to accommodate the players and insure their safety. I am also open to adjusting practice start times to help out the other team. I guess some would call me a nice guy most of the time when it comes to sharing practice fields. But, I think some coaches forgot how to share.
A few days ago, my son’s baseball team had their normal Tuesday night practice at a public park where our team has practiced for the last 6 Tuesday nights straight without any hiccup. This baseball field is located in a huge park and there is plenty of room to set up two maybe three practice baseball fields, but there is only one backstop. Unfortunately last Tuesday another team was practicing on the baseball field with the backstop when my son and I arrived for our pre-practice warm-ups. It looked like the other team had been there since 5:30pm since my son and I arrived about 5:50 to warm-up. Most of our team arrived about 6:25pm and sat around until 6:35 hoping the other team would finish and let us take the field with the backstop at 6:30 pm our normal practice time. Their coaches would not acknowledge us or talk to our coach when they took a 6:30 pm water break right next to our team waiting to practice.
I decided to ask their head coach what time they expected to finish practice and if we could take the backstop at 7:15pm so we could take our normal batting / pitching practice. I told him we had been practicing here for about 6 weeks and ask if they were going to start using this field on Tuesday nights just in case we needed to move fields. He started out by saying they had been practicing here all Spring but their normal practice baseball field was vandalized this week and they were playing in the World Series tourney this week so they needed this field to practice tonight but would not need the field anymore. He said they were practicing until 8pm but might let us have the field at 7:30pm. I ask him to share the backstop if they were not going to take batting practice and they could switch with us for infield practice on the other side of the park. He said he needed the backstop his whole practice. They never used the backstop and just took infield practice working on several plays. I walked over about 7:30pm to the backstop and he acted like he was going to leave the field when I asked his assistant if we could have the backstop. He said they were just going to finish up. They finished up about 7:45pm and never allowed us to use the field or apologized.
Maybe I am old school in my sense of right and wrong. I’ve tried asking myself if I would have done the same as this baseball coach. Is it really about first come first serve if you know it’s not your normal practice field and another youth team who has been practicing on that field for weeks must scramble to hold practice elsewhere? Does he really care about kids or just his kids or maybe just winning? This is not the first time I’ve run across coaches taking advantage of field situations. When I was coaching in Denver a girl’s Select soccer team took our assigned field and I had to ask them to leave since they were using the whole field and did not have a permit to be on our contracted league permit field. I thought the coach was going to attack me when I asked to see his permit while showing him my use permit. I told him he could use one of the ends of the field but he could not use the whole field. The cussing began and a parent called 911. We’ve been on football fields with 4 or 5 team practicing and one of the teams will decide to disregard our field boundry markers and just start practicing in our area without asking or a 6th team will just start practicing in our area and cut our area in half without asking.
Please do me a favor, if you see me on a football field or any field and you want to use part of the field, please ask me to share. I will be glad to share the field if there is room to insure player safety. If I ask you to share, please give me the courtesy and or a civil honest answer. Heck, we are out here to have fun not see who has the most testosterone in a battle royal over practice field use.
Play for Fun and Winning is Funner!
Keller, TX / DFW / Dallas Fort Worth Texas
When practice space is tight, teams just need to make do with what they have. You could easily fit two or even three times into a baseball field if you organized it right. Someone gets the infield, another team takes the outfield and then you switch. It’s just common courtesy, especially if you aren’t the team with the “right” to be there.