BigO Tyres

I ran cross country in the fall and played JV basketball. Now I want to run track but I’m really, really tired (and a...

I ran cross country in the fall and played JV basketball. Now I want to run track but I’m really, really tired (and a little behind on my schoolwork). But I’m afraid to ask the track coach for some time off – she’s pretty scary. What can I say that will get me a week to catch up and recover?

B.B., Petaluma

   This is a tough one, because there are a lot of competing factors involved.

   A primary factor, from the coach’s point of view, is commitment. She wants everyone to learn the importance of living up to commitments and the relationship between effort and success. From that perspective, her insistence that you come to practice immediately makes sense. After all, there are a bunch of other athletes who played winter sports who are there, and letting someone take time off just doesn’t seem fair.

   But on the other hand, two of the most important parts of high school team success are enthusiasm and health. If a coach can create a situation where her players are excited and want to put in the work, then practices will be good, games (or meets) will bring out the best in the athletes and the odds of having a good experience go way up.

   But enthusiasm means nothing in terms of team success if a significant percentage of the team members are sitting on the sideline watching. In almost every sport, the teams that live up to or exceed their potential are those that have avoided injury. (And almost every disappointing season can be linked, in part, to injuries or illness.)

   Another aspect here is that you’ve shown your dedication to the program by participating in two sports and wanting to get involved in a third. You are a valuable contributor to your school, and as such, deserve some kind of consideration.

   Finally, there’s something I’ve mentioned here before: The Bank of Good Will. For me, each player has an account in the Bank of Good Will, and if she’s come to every practice, worked hard and been willing to do what the team needs, she has a large positive balance. So let’s say her grandmother comes to town for the first time in 10 years and she wants a day off to go with her to San Francisco. With that bulging account in the Bank of Good Will, it’s easy for me to say yes; if her balance was low, however, then the answer probably would be no.

   So maybe you approach your coach like this: “I understand you want commitment, but I’ve shown my commitment to the school’s athletics this year, and I’d really like to take a week off to rest and catch up on my schoolwork. In return, I promise to be at every practice, work hard and be the best teammate I can be when I come back.”

   In other words, you’re taking a loan on your account in the Bank of Good Will that you are promising to pay back, with interest if necessary. Now I’m not saying this will work, but it’s worth a try — and if you approach the coach respectfully and lay out your reasons logically, you may just find you get that week off you so desperately need.

Clay Kallam is an assistant athletic director and girls varsity basketball coach at Bentley High in Lafayette. To submit a question for Behind the Clipboard, email him at  HYPERLINK “”


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