Lunsetter Letter; “Why do We Do This?” 02 Mar 18

An open letter from Grygla Principal/Athletic Director Jamie Lunsetter signed by more than 30 area School District Athletic Directors. These comments along with our News Room interview with Lunsetter will be included in a 1230 News Special; “Why do We Do This?” with more next week on Thief River Falls Radio. The full context of the letter, endorsed by the Region 8A Athletic Directors Association, follows;

“To Whom it May Concern:

    I’d like to start by saying a very sincere THANK YOU to the many, many people that support what we do at our schools, including our extra-curricular activities.  There are so many people in our communities that understand the time, effort and energy that goes into providing quality programming for all of our students, many times at the sacrifice of our own families.  I call these people the silent majority.

    As I sit at my desk typing this letter today, I think about how the vocal minority has caused the people in our buildings; our teachers, coaches and advisors, along with countless other teachers and coaches in surrounding communities who have sacrificed to provide a positive experience for their children, to question, “Why do we do this?”.  There is an uneasiness in the coaching community as a whole because some parents have cast them as the villains, who have stopped their child from reaching what they believe is their full potential.  That notion could not be further from the truth. I think about how unfair it is to criticize our coaches for the decisions they make on the court, or the kids that they play in certain situations, or the plays they call, especially when done from the stands.   We each have the opportunity to play one of four roles at a sporting event; spectator, coach, player, or official.  When we try to be more than one of those roles, it causes problems.  Which role are you going to play?

   I wonder if people actually realize how it feels to put your heart and soul into something for all the right reasons, and then have it turned on you because the wins might not be coming, or because you’re not playing the right kids at the right time, or you’re calling the wrong plays.  I have seen this negativity spread quickly and loudly, and although I don’t have the answers to help people see that we are doing the right things, something needs to be said.  We, as educators, have the responsibility to care for, nurture and teach every single student and athlete that is given to us, and I’m proud to say that we do it enthusiastically.  I have personally seen and heard from parents who undercut their child’s teammates and coaches, and who have told their children to look for individual success first, and team success second.  That is not right, and it certainly isn’t making our teams stronger and is not helping to build better people.  That message completely undermines the real lessons that our children should be learning from the activities they participate in.  

    The truth is that we have remarkable teachers and coaches doing great things for our kids.  They provide them with opportunities that not all kids get.  They care for their students and players, and spend more time with them than just about anyone else.  They miss family meals, birthdays, and other family activities to make sure their players needs are met.  They take the personal shots, comments from some parents and the crowd, and still keep coming back to help our kids become better people first, and better athletes second.  Our coaches take a personal interest in each of the kids in their classrooms and in their activity that extends beyond the school walls.  Even though some of the kids and parents will never see or understand that, it remains true.
I recently asked our coaches why they coach, and these were some of the responses I received:

“I coach for the kids.  When you see the sparkle in their eyes when things start to click for them…there is nothing like it!”
 “I remember what a pivotal role sports played in my development as a young person.  I have had the pleasure of being coached by some fine leaders, and I try to carry on the lessons those people have taught me.”

“I see today’s student athletes as tomorrow’s leaders, and I try to impact their lives in a positive way through the game we play.”

“I want to help young people realize what they have inside them. More than just athletic ability, what they have as a leader, a teammate, and an overall citizen. Everyone has potential to be someone who can go on to positively impact the lives of others, I want to help them get there.”

“I continue to coach today because I enjoy being able to see the players having fun, and as they grow as a
person. We aren’t just teaching players how to play basketball, we should also be preparing them to get
ready for the real world.”

“I coach because of the connection made between the players and coaches. A team should feel like a family,
and I think our team does. Most weeks, I see the players more than I see my own kids.”

    “I coach because of the strong healthy relationships made while coaching that can last a lifetime. Watching
the players smile and have fun when they succeed at something. The look on their face when something
clicks and they start doing the right thing.”

    “I have a passion to teach kids the sports that I loved playing as a kid and the life lessons that will be instilled
 in them for the rest of their lives.”

    “I coach because there is nothing better than seeing a kid reach their goal or do something they thought was
 impossible.  The smile on their faces is when that happens is what keeps me coaching.”

    “I coach to teach kids that life is not about the result, it’s about the process and the execution.  I teach kids
 how to perform at their highest level so they can be successful now and in life?

“I take pride in being someone who is trying to make things better and more enjoyable for the kids because I care
about them and want them to experience success in school and life.”

“I do this to build relationships and help these boys become men of character, integrity, and respect. If I can play a
small part in helping these boys fulfill some of their dreams, I could look back with pride at my coaching and teaching

There are common themes in each of these responses, and it is what we should be striving to find in all of our coaches.  Our coaches emphasize teamwork, commitment, positive relationships and leadership.  These are life skills that will help them be successful adults.  The wins and losses will come and go, but focusing on these qualities ensure that we will always be successful, no matter what the scoreboard says.  I know that the people we trust to coach our kids are teaching the right values, along with the fundamentals of the sport that will help them be competitive on the court, field or ice.

Many of you already see the passion that our coaches possess for what they do.  To others, it wouldn’t matter what we say or how much time we spend preparing, planning and working with our kids because you’re already convinced we are wrong.  The reality is that we do this because we love it and we love all of our kids.  Coaches get up in the morning, prepare for a full day of teaching, spend three more hours at practice, or six more hours at a game, and get home late, only to do it all over again the next day.  Often times, the only feedback a coach gets is when things go wrong.  That doesn’t sound like a job that anybody would like to have, yet they continue to do it.  Why? Because they have a passion for their profession, and they care.  Period.

In summary, we are profoundly fortunate to have the coaches and teachers that we have in our schools.  Their sacrifices are extremely important examples for our children, and the work they do is important and they deserve our full support.  THANK YOU to all of our coaches and teachers for all you do!”

This letter has been endorsed by the Region 8A Athletic Directors Association.

Jamie Lunsetter            Kevin Kuznia               Becky Carlson            
Principal/Athletic Director    Principal/Athletic Director       Principal/Athletic Director
Grygla Public School            Stephen/Argyle Central    Goodridge Public School

Ivan Hirst            Nick Amb            Aaron Cook
Principal/Athletic Director    Dean of Students/A.D.    Athletic Director
Roseau High School        Tri-County Schools        Win-E-Mac School

Chad Kujava            Steve Bengtson        Blake Karas
Athletic Director        Athletic Director        Athletic Director
Lancaster School Dist.    Warroad Public School    Sacred Heart

Chad Hazelton        Mike Biermaier        Kelsey Wagner
Athletic Director        Athletic Director        Athletic Director
Lake of the Woods School    Lincoln High School        Fisher-Climax

Kyle Christianson        Ryan Hanlon           Doreen Zierer
Athletic Director        Athletic Director        Athletic Director
Clearbrook-Gonvick School    Fosston High School        Bagley High School

John Schumacher        Kelly Anderson        Randy Pederson
Athletic Director        Principal/Athletic Director    Principal/Athletic Director
Park Rapids Schools        Ada/Borup High School    Red Lake County Central H.S.

Seth Schmitz            Brad Dunham            Brian Marcus
Athletic Director        Athletic Director        Athletic Director
Lafayette High School, RLF    NCE/UH            Walker-Hackensack-Akeley

Scott Koberinski        Bryan Wormley        Paul Clark
Athletic Director        Dean of Students/A.D.    Athletic Director
East Grand Forks H.S.    Nevis High School        Waubun High School    

McKeag Borne        Dan Alto            Ryan Grow
Athletic Director        Athletic Director        Director Community Services/Athletics
Norman County West        Kelliher-Northome        Blackduck Public Schools

Nolan Desjarlait        Greg Garmen            John Clark
Athletic Director        Activities Director        Athletic Director
RLHS/ISD#38            Crookston High School    Mahnomen High School
Dan Gannon            Lisa Moss
TrekNorth High School AD    Athletic Director
Bemidji            Laporte High School