Parents upset over coach’s hiring process

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Unionville Baseball Boosters say they were ‘shut out’ until after the fact

By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com
PENNSBURY — Members of the Unionville High School Baseball Booster Club say they feel like the school district failed to get them in the lineup when selection process for a new varsity baseball coach was underway.

Monday night, they unsuccessfully asked the Board of Education to table the hiring of Michael Magee to replace T. J. Ostrishko, who resigned earlier this year. The voted 6-1 to hire Magee.

While none of the parents were directly critical of Magee, who has served as pitching coach at Downingtown East High School and previously coached at Bishop Shanahan High School, they expressed disappointment in the process which, they say, prevented fair consideration of another candidate, Mike Robinson, the President of the KAU Little League, someone who has coached many of the players in the Unionville program in summer league baseball.

Jeff Fries, incoming president of the Baseball Boosters, said that Unionville High School Athletic Director Joe Derrickson made little or no effort to contact the boosters — a parent organization that pays for some of the costs of the baseball program — to get input. Two baseball parents, a player, as well as a varsity coach from another sport, and Derrickson were among the members of the selection committee, which recommended Magee over Robinson.

Mike Magee, the new Unionville High School baseball coach.

Unionville High School principal Paula Massanari confirmed that administration procedures call for consulting with the booster club when possible, but after a change in the officers of the organization, there was some confusion about who to contact. However, she said, in the future, the “when possible” clause should be changed to required.

Derrickson did not respond to a request for comment.

Fries said that the concern is that its unclear whether the parents selected represented the views of the majority of the baseball parents — and questioned whether key concerns, such as who Magee will use as assistant coaches, and what his relationship is with area college baseball coaches, as many parents, like Fries, are looking for athletic scholarship options for their sons were part of the interview process. Those questions, parents said Monday night, were not answered during the interview process — at least not to their satisfaction. How the parents were selected was also questioned. Many parents questioned whether the emphasis was on winning now, or building a program for the long haul.

“Will the coach be able to start and build a program from the seventh grade team all the way to the varsity?” Fries asked.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Sanville said that he felt the guidelines were properly followed and allowed that some of the frustration is coming from disagreement about the final choice.

“Who we decide is a successful candidate is up to personal interpretation,” Sanville said.

Among the board members, only Holly Manzone asked for Magee’s hiring to be tabled, noting that while she “doesn’t think the board should micromanage the process, it shouldn’t be a rubber stamp, either.”

Although fellow member Eileen Bushelow initially offered some support — it became evident that the rest of the board was prepared to move ahead with the hiring of Magee, based on the recommendations of the administration.

“I think we have to rely on the administration,” board vice president Frank Murphy said, noting that the policy has been in place for five years and used to select many of the current coaches for the school.

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28 Comments

  1. Craig Huffman says:

    I was an assistant coach for my son’s URA team this year. My son and I had a great experience with URA baseball. I don’t know Mr. Fries. However, I find these annonymous attacks on volunteers in poor taste, to put it mildly.

  2. Jeff Fries says:

    Next URA Board meeting is scheduled for Sunday, October 16, 2011 – at 5:00 PM. It will be held at the Easy Marlborough Township building.

  3. BoosterPhil says:

    I assume the school pays the coach, which makes him an employee of the school system. I’m surpised the school involves anyone from outside of their system to handle hiring for them. A committee of baseball players and parents? How were the employers, who are legally responsible for the actions of the coach, involved in the selection process? Sounds like a school system that doesn’t know how to run their own business. Let me ask this – If the baseball coach were to commit some offense (e.g. illegal sexual act) against a student, is the Booster Organization willing to be a co-defendant in the lawsuit brought against the employer? If you want to be involved in hiring, you better be willing to take FULL responsibility!

    Parents – step away from your helicopters!

  4. Malia Horine says:

    We moved here due to my job relo a year and a half ago. We felt so fortunate to receive such strong recommendations from people about living in the Unionville School District due to the strong schools & sports as well as the recreational offerings (URA, Titans). My 3 kids came here knowing no one. They were so warmly welcomed into the community by kind neighbors, Titans family, URA family that when they started school they didn’t feel like outsiders. I have asked them repeatedly if they would move back to what used to be home and they keep saying no. Kind & caring people in this community are doing something right!

    So, thank you to Jeff Fries (for caring enough to stand up & determine whether a process was handled correctly…it shows excellence of character to challenge the status quo & not many people have the guts to take that type of stand and put their name on it), thank you to URA & Titan folks-board, coaches, etc (for providing a fun, safe environment for my kids to get involved & meet new kids. I know you sacrifice your own time to benefit my kids. It doesn’t go unnoticed). My children aren’t yet involved in school sports but I can certainly tell you that knowing we came to community that places high value on strong coaching makes me happy. While I might not be raising the next, Aaron Rodgers I want my kid to have a great experience and I can see through controversies like this that people care how things happen.

    It is truly disappointing to see the mudslinging and attacks on personal character in situations like this. It seems people are quick to judge instead of work towards understanding. We won’t always agree on everything but no one can argue the sacrifices & gift of time/effort some of these volunteers like Jeff Fries make so that your kids and my kids have the best.

    For the record, I don’t even know Jeff Fries. I just know that my family is reaping the benefit of his dedication to the community. There are several of you out there that are just like him. Thank you all for all you do. It is apparent that you are sometimes highly underappreciated and it is embarrassing when it takes a situation like this for me to say thanks.

  5. Matt McCloskey says:

    I find it hard to believe that folks are attacking Jeff here. The guy has done nothing but given his time to help to build URA into a great program for all sports. My girls both did soccer and field hockey and lacrosse and we found it well organized with minimal issues. That he has raised a point regarding the process and the selection of a coach for the high school should not be a reflection on his time and effort with URA. They are two separate things that should not be confused. If one of your kids was in a school based program you would want to make sure you had the best candidate selected by a group who knew what they were doing. I know Jeff. There is no agenda other than making sure the kids get what they need out of the program. He had an issue with parents and a student being on the selection committee. As a taxpayer so do I! We dont hire the math teachers. There was not a parent voice, unless you count parents on the board, in the selection process of the new superindendant. Why were parents involved in this? Thats the point. Not who got selected but rather HOW he was selected. When you muddle this with all the stuff being thrown around here its easy to throw dirt. My point is stop throwing it at the guy who wants the best for the kids including his own.

    P.S. If you have an opinion, own it.

  6. URA Non-Baseball Coach says:

    I’m sure that if the URA Board meeting dates were posted on the website or somewhere where they were easily searchable. some of us complainers would attend and continue to volunteer. Shouldn’t those meetings be on a regular day (e.g. 2nd Monday of the month). Better yet, send an e-mail to the entire URA e-mail list letting people know when the meetings are.

  7. GetOverYourself says:

    I actually do fact checking prior to commenting.

    I now find the URA basketball comment above very comical – according to the URA Basketball President, URA basketball at the High School Level has more participants than it ever has. In fact, the overall program itself is double in size what it once was. Lastly, the HS kids draft their own teams so how they get stacked I really can’t comment on.

  8. Jeff Fries says:

    I really should not respond, but since you are putting my name out there and putting incorrect facts with it I felt I better. Let’s start with UHS Baseball selection comments. First, my feeling is that no parent should be part of the selection committee for the coaching position. I do not know how any parent could have an impartial position. I believe having parents and players on the committee only leads to issues. If a parent is part of the selection and their child plays, people will say it was because the parent was on the selection committee. What I am working to do is have the spirit of the policy clear. The policy was drafted in 2007 to allow increase representation from Parents and players. Why didn’t all the parents and players know when to submit their name to be part of the selection committee or ideas for what is needed in a coach to improve the program? I would like to see the selection committee made up of existing Schools coaches and a representative from the parents and players. The representative should not be a parent of a potential player or a potential player. We do not select the English teacher or Math teacher, why do we get to select the coach? We submit information to the school about what qualifications we feel a candidate should poses. We can submit feedback about candidates we have history with, good or bad, but we do not get to be the one to actually pick the person. I really hope that the communication process is improved so facts are presented to everyone.
    UHS Diamond Club President –2 years ago I was asked along with anyone else that was at the Diamond Club meetings if someone could volunteer to take the Vice President position. No one did. At the end of the last baseball season, I was asked again to take the vice president position or the president position since the existing president was stepping down. I said, no. I am do not have the time. Over the summer more people came forward and asked me to volunteer. If you wanted the position or you wanted someone to take the positions, I guess you did not have the time to make the effort to voice your opinion or concern. Monday morning quarterbacks usually get everything right. It’s the ones that have to make the decision during the game that get all the criticism. I agreed to take the President position based on the support of the other Diamond Club Board members and families. I also gave them stipulation that I would take the positions if I could get someone to take the URA President position. I’ll address that later. If have a problem with that, step forward and volunteer your time, nothing is stopping you.
    URA President – I volunteered to take that position several years ago when the existing President and Vice president said they would like to step down. Neither left the program, they were just tired of the parents. The prior president is still involved with URA to this day and I thank him for all he continues to do. My children have not played a URA sport for several years. I do not have the time URA needs to keep growing the program. I have tried to meet or talk with every parent that has contacted me. To my knowledge, I have done that. If I missed your email, I am sorry. I usually try to meet each person face to face. Once I get the facts about an issue, I have tried to correct or improve the situation. I could not correct them all, but I do try to make sure everyone child gets fail playing time and enjoy the time to do spend with URA. You should also know that the URA Tournament Travel teams do not receive funds from URA. They do use the URA name but do not receive URA Money. There are several Tournament teams and organizations around the area. Look into AAU and ECTB teams, if you really think your child has the skills, no one is stopping you. I have asked for the past 3 years for someone to take the President position. No one has. There are several characteristic the Board is looking for in a candidate. Here are 4. 1) Candidate should have young children in the URA Program; 2) Candidate needs to understand sports and their impact of a child’s growth, both mentally and physically. 3) The person must have free time to put towards the position. 4) Lastly, the candidate needs to have thick skin because that person will never please everyone. The next URA Board Meeting is scheduled to be held this month. If the Unionville Time allows it, I will make sure it is announced.
    I am a parent of two boys that played Baseball and Basketball for URA. I tried to help all sports, but I am a parent, I am and always will put my kids first. Eight years ago, there was no website. Parents called a phone number that went to the URA Presidents house. The upgrade was a voicemail box and currently we have a web site. Field day consisted of 4 people, and board meetings were attended by 3 people. In Baseball, there were 6 rookie, 8 minors and 8 Major teams. Softball played games on a baseball field with a mound and grass infield. Prior to each game on the Abby Miller field we would bring out a generator and a shop-vac to make sure it was playable. Each spring, you could canoe down the first baseline of Allaband field and you could pick dead fish out of the outfield. We had two port-a-potties as bathrooms. Basketball program was the life blood of URA because all the other sports lost money. Some things have changed for the better and I hope they continue to improve.

    • Mike McGann says:

      Jeff,

      Of course, we’d be happy to run an announcement on the date/time/place of the URA board meeting.

  9. Sunnyside says:

    Mr. McGann & GetOverYourself you are missing the point. The article is about certain parents, namely Mr. Fries, being upset about not being part of the hiring “process” for the UHS baseball coach. I am merely pointing out that:

    1. Parents were included in the process. Two randomly selected parents.

    2. Mr. Fries would not be complaining if the candidate that he wanted was the selected person. He only has a problem with the process because the coach he wanted did not get the job.

    3. Mr. Fries is hypocritical because the organization that he runs and sits as President of the board for does not run in that fashion. Parents have never been included in the selection process for coaches.

    4. Additionally, I also participated in the KAU program. You should check out their information. The have regular board meetings. They vote (oh my goodness) on who the coaches are going to be and players for the tournament teams and all star teams have to be nominated and voted on by all the coaches in the particular division. URA could learn a thing or two from KAU.

    5. I read an article recently about the numbers dwindling for the URA high school age group basketball program and that URA was attributing that to the positive nature of the UHS basketball coach. Don’t fool yourselves, the kids and the parents of that program are sick of URA and all the shenanigans (stacked teams, favoritism) that is why they are not registering.

    My comments were not about the website per se, the website is an EXAMPLE of the baseball centric focus that stems from Mr. Fries.

    Sorry to disappoint you all that say step up if you don’t like it. I did. I was a coach and a commisioner for three sports. I can tell you from EXPERIENCE that you cannot break through the cronyism and favoritism at URA.

    I am also sorry to report that many things that are submitted for the website do not make it there. As minor’s mom points out, emails go unreturned or requests have to be made numerous times.

    I know people are volunteers and I appreciate all that they do. But when things are done in the spirit of advancing one’s own personal agenda then obviously the integrity and the value of the volunteerism goes way down.

    Mr. Fries is caught trying to advance his own personal agenda here, and not for the betterment of the UHS baseball program.

    • Jeff Fries says:

      Sunnyside, Publish your name or are you affraid. Can you tell me who my candidate was? I did not realize I had a candidate. Yes I knew 2 of the coaches that applied. Does that me I had a candidate or knew the best person for the postions. Not having any background or knowledge of all those that applied would make that kind of hard, Where do you get your facts. Please step forward, I would love to talk. Get your facts right.

  10. GetOverYourself says:

    The URA Website publishes all content given to the Webmaster. If content isn’t given, URA doesn’t go out searching for it. It is a volunteer organization and if someone wants to be the Website editor, come to a board meeting and volunteer. I know for a fact the Website editor suffered a personal family tragedy, yet continues to manage the site because no one else will.

    As for the Baseball organization, if you don’t like what is going on then go play at KAU – you have an alternative yet you choose to stay where you are unhappy? You folks seem to be the one with the problem. Why would you stay where you are unhappy? Your problem is the URA baseball program is successful at the tournament level and you want your kids to be part of it, however they aren’t – so you are angry. Get over it. Just like the school teams there is one or two guys that choose who is on the team. That is their responsibility and their choice as head coach. The baseball organization must be doing something right because it has grown considerably over the last 4 years and has surpassed the size of other area leagues.

    The URA basketball league is recreational and the President gets nasty e-mails about it because it remains recreational. People want their son to be the next Michael Jordan, want their kids to play up, want the rules changed so it benefits their kid and supposedly will make them a better player. The URA Basketball President refuses to be pushed into something that doesn’t benefit the majority of the players – who are RECREATIONAL. There are coaches who take travel teams into the Malvern League for higher level competition but URA does NOT sponsor them, but certainly encourages those that want to play at that level to do so.

    As far as Mr. Fries – regardless of what you think of him he has spent countless hours building a Community Organization for YOUR children. He volunteered to be President and stayed on as such well beyond his own children’s years in URA because no one else wanted the thankless job. No one wants the job because they have to listen to the complainers – YOU – all the time, have to try to get people to volunteer their time to do things and in all reality no one in this area wants to volunteer, they’d rather write a check and have someone else do the work.

    Be part of the solution, not the problem. Either shut up and step up or go somewhere else and participate because the folks at URA don’t have time for your drama.

    I guarantee when the e-mail comes out for Fall Field cleanup, you are the first ones to delete it.

  11. KeepParentsOutOfIt says:

    There sounds like two different issues here.. and I agree with Sunnyside on how URA is running things now in baseball especially. And this is exactly why parents should not be involved with the sports teams at school. URA is supposed to be about developmental baseball and sports and developing all of the players not just Daddy’s little boy who happens to be the coach and his friends.

  12. URA Non-Baseball Coach says:

    Mike, just take a look at the URA website. When is the last time it was updated? Certainly several months after baseball season is plenty of time to update the information. Most people would assume there is only one sport and only one baseball team at URA–the one whose information is posted and the one that has almost all the photos, some of which are at least 2 years old! I know people–I among them–who have sent information and other photos about other teams and they are never published. It’s not a URA website….it’s a URA baseball website for only one team! It’s time for the entire URA organization to take a look in the mirror. It’s not about all the kids….it’s about their kids and the volunteers’ self-inflated sense of importance. And baseball is King. Shame on the leadership for allowing the status quo to continue. All the Ripken baseball championships don’t make up for the shoddy treatment that many parents or their non-baseball-playing or their non-tournament level kids receive from the leadership. If you want to play high level baseball all year round, start an AAU travel team. Or allow other players in other sports the chance to play at higher levels on the URA dime too. Otherwise, let’s keep the “recreation” in URA.

  13. KeepParentsOutOfIt says:

    Why does any parent get a vote? Parents should be completely out of the equation. Good luck to Mr. McGhee and hopefully the parents leave him alone and let him coach the team. The best coaches keep a line drawn in the sand and parents do not cross it. BTW Mr. Fries has nothing to do with the web site at URA and he does have the best interest of all the youth. The URA fields would not be in the condition they are in without his backbreaking work he spent years on there.

  14. Sunnyside says:

    Let’s be honest, Mr. Fries would not be standing at a school board meeting complaining about “the process” if the candidate that he wanted got the job! He only has a concern because he did not get what he wanted, the candidate that he felt would benefit him and his child the most…nevermind the rest of the program. This has been the hallmark of Mr. Fries tenure as the President of URA. He and his cronies ensure that their kids get preferential treatment. Sports that his kids don’t play get little attention or assistance from him. Ever notice that there is barely an information on the website about field hockey, lacrosse, wrestling….that is because Mr. Fries and kids don’t play those sports!

    The fact of the matter is that booster clubs do NOT pay for the salaries of the head coach. Two baseball parents (who are booster club members) sat on the committee that made recommendations for the coach. Their thoughts were balanced with the thoughts of the Athletic Director, a coach from another sport, a player and a building administrator. This sounds like a subcommittee that represents all the important stakeholders in the process. Does Mr. Fries think that every baseball parent should get a vote? Really? Does every baseball parent at URA get a vote in who coaches the tournament teams….NO! People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    • Mike McGann says:

      Again…I don’t think these comments are fair. While I might agree that the URA Website isn’t everything it could be (and what site run by volunteers can be?), that’s more a function of the oversubscribed nature of the people who put it together rather than some bias against some of the sports. If — and to be honest, this is the case, here, too — if the coaches and league commissioners submitted info, they would certainly be posted on the URA site (and if sent here, they’d be posted here, too). We have the same issue with running info on most Unionville High Sports: because we have a tiny staff, the vast majority of things we get come from coaches submissions. And yes, none of it is ideal, and it’s not fair to ask the coaches to have to do this, but it is what it is, although it is something I’m working on improving.

      I know how much work Jeff puts in and I also know he does it for the kids — all of the kids in the area — and I don’t think it’s fair to just take shots at him or the small group of volunteers who put in hundreds of hours a year to make sure Unionville has a rec program. Considering how few parents are willing or able to spend their time to volunteer, maybe a little more appreciation is due (yes, I know a lot of folks are busy and most appreciate the efforts of those who do put in the time). If you can do better, volunteer. URA can use the help.

      • Minor'sMom says:

        Mr. McGann, URA rejects help on a regular basis. Ask the parents who have volunteered to coach or keep score or be a commissioner–and have the prior playing or coaching experience to do so–and are never asked to do so because they are not part of the “inner circle. ” How can you say Mr. Fries has the best interests of the kids at heart when he allows this tradition of cronyism to continue at URA. Only one person at URA gets a vote as to who is on a tournament team–the tournament team coach! Let’s play favorites! Let’s make sure my kidsplays shortstop and bats leadoff when he ought to be an outfielder at best. Let’s pick kids to the team who will do nothing but sit the bench because Mommy and Daddy don’t make waves. Only a few of the URA tourney teams are coached by men I would say I would want my son to be coached by…others shouldn’t even be considered as role models due to their lack of knowledge of the game or their unsportsmanlike conduct or constant playing head games with the self-esteem of 9-10-11 YO boys. Some of the tourney teams win in spite of their coaches! Even you must admit that a man who doesn’t know what a fielder’s choice is or doesn’t realize that a a runner can advance on a ball caught in foul terriitory isn’t qualified to be tournament coach for any reason other than he’s got “connections.” Even worse is a tournament team coach who swears around children or tries to play every rec game like it’s the 7th inning of the state finals. And what happens when parents complain? Nothing! Jeff Fries doesn’t even respond to e-mails. Oh wait, some other folks don’t bother pointing out the objectional behavior and coaching inadequacies because they know NOTHING will be done! Why isn’t there a tournament team for URA softball or lacrosse or wrestling or basketball? Surely there are tournaments for those sports as well. Don’t say people should step up and volunteer….they have and get turned away. You must be be drinking the URA is wonderful because we win lots of Ripken games kool-aid. A strong president would ensure that the entire organization is run as a RECREATIONAL league. And as someone who has spent many years playing and coaching various sports running websites and writing for newspapers as well, there needs to be some responsbility on the part of the volunteer…if the site is supposed to be informational and up-to-date, ask for information. And by the way, I’ve said many times I’ll be happy to help with the website, but, hey, they wouldn’t want it in the hands of someone other than one of the URA “chosen few.”

    • Minor'sMom says:

      Sunnyside, you and I need to have lunch. You’ve got this URA situation assessed exactly right!

  15. Minor'sMom says:

    So you have the incoming president of the UHS Booster Club, who is also the long-time president of URA, and who coaches and has kids playing at KAU? How many places does he have to have his hands in with baseball? Having parents of current players on this search committee is no different than having the emphasis at URA be on tourney baseball rather than recreational baseball (the R does stand for Recreation): same parents coach URA tourney ball year after year…even if they know little about the game or their kids are given preferential treatment or if there is a selection process that ensures that only the head coach makes the picks. The heck with the boys who want to LEARN to play the game…at URA you already should KNOW how to play the game. Sounds like some boosters want to insure that baseball in Unionville is corrupt with cronyism from the youth league through the high school. And what about Mike Robinson? Did he want the job? Or was he named a “candidate” because the UHS boosters and Mr. Fries simply deemed him to be one? He is an outstanding baseball coach of players at all levels, for sure, a man who seems to derive great satisfaction from watching his pupils learn and improve, and a more than decent human being…but to drag his name publically into this matter is unconscionable. Especially if he still is coaching at another school in this area. He could teach Mr. Fries and the baseball wannabes at URA some lessons about what the true purpose of a RECREATIONAL baseball league is.

  16. Becky says:

    It might be a good idea to keep the parents and the coach selection process separate. Schools sports and rec sports are a totally different game, both are great and have there own appeal but are completely different.

    • KOACHNREF says:

      As a club ball coach and experience at the high school and collegiate levels I see many points of views as viable. I believe hiring of a coach is not a popularity contest. Boosters need to do what they volunteer to do and that’s support the sport. If the boosters want input on the hiring process then they should have a representative on the hiring committee. That is up to the adminstration doing the hiring in my view. Booster by definition is suppose to support not direct. Boosters tend to be too intrusive in programs they are suppose to support. My personal belief is that one need to separate the responsibility. Raising funds and determining who is hired is a conflict of interest. I’ve personally seen and experience the negativity of a single organization doing both. Furthermore the intrusiveness does not help the youths, sport, nor the organization(s) ie, school or club.

  17. Sandy Beach says:

    Over the years my three sons played basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and wrestled, and I have served on every booster board. While we supported the programs and sometimes helped fund assistant coaches’ salaries, we never had input when hiring new coaches. IF parents and student athletes serve on the hiring committees, then they should, indeed, have graduated and not be current players. Another option is to invite parents from other booster clubs who have no vested interest in the specific sports program but do have an interest in hiring coaches who are knowlegable, professional, honorable, fair, and people of good character. These are the traits that college level coaches look for in their potential athletes..sometimes more than athletic ability. Athletes who are being scouted have abiity in their sport. However, when on recruiting trips, the coaches will often invite themselves to dine with the potential athlete and his family, stating that the way a young person treats his family members and the manners that he shows mean more than how good he is on the field/court. They want athletes who are coachable, can be part of a team and are people of character. We need coaches who model and instill integrity, honesty, teamwork, and perseverance, as well as an individual who knows the sport and can build a program.

  18. Andree Fitzcharles says:

    UHSsports, you hit the nail on it’s head!

  19. UHSsports says:

    Why are parents of existing players even on the committee.. their kids will be shown preferential treatment since their mom and Dad hired the coach, Use parents who had kids that already graduated…better yet have Pat Clark coach all of the sports..

    • Minor'sMom says:

      Let’s let Pat Clark stick to football, please.

      • Mike McGann says:

        I’m pretty sure Pat has his hands full right now, although I’m betting he’ll make a great athletic director at some point in the future.

        As for Mike Robinson, he applied for the job and was one of the two candidates that went through the interview process. I was told that he didn’t do as well in the interviews, although there’s no arguing his skills as a coach. Still, the more people I speak with, the more people probably should be excited about Mike Magee. I’m hearing nothing but good things. The issues that Jeff and a number of other parents raised were about the hiring process and a perceived lack of transparency, not so much the final choice.

        And as for your issues with URA baseball, while your arguments have some merit (I’m a baseball and softball parent, too, and have coached both and have watched the emphasis, coaching and teaching change since I first coached there in 1999 — and that’s certainly a fair topic for discussion), you are mistaken in blaming Jeff. Jeff has advocated teaching, and somewhat less emphasis on tournament play. In fairness, since URA became part of Ripken Baseball, the tournament program has been very successful and the overall quality of play has improved a great deal — and I don’t agree that the folks coaching tournament ball know little about the game, quite the opposite, and having written extensively about Major League and Minor League baseball during my career, i know a little bit about baseball folks. These guys know the game — in fact, I suspect a couple of them would be excellent coaching at higher levels, such as Legion ball. I can’t speak to the tournament team selection process, as my son is not one of the top players in the league, although he loved playing with many of the kids on the tournament team in the Minors.

        Now, if you want to engage on a debate about URA should be, that’s a fair discussion and one that has been ongoing even within URA for some time. But I think you’ve been a little unfair in your characterizations of Jeff and others.

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