I wrote back in July about a very negative encounter I’d had with a high school basketball coach. To summarize the experience — I’d unintentionally used a disparaging quote about Coach A’s team in an article only vaguely related to high school basketball, and that coach responded by basically verbally abusing me for about a half-hour before hanging up on me.
When I tried to smooth things over with an email, Coach A dismissed it with an extremely terse, unforgiving response. I came away from the experience with no idea what would happen during basketball season.
I’d gone out of my way to avoid interacting with Coach A in the four months following the experience, basically because I was too chicken to face what I feared would be another heated confrontation.
But with basketball season fast approaching, I knew I had to make contact with Coach A. So I did at Friday’s football game, introducing myself and saying how nice it was to finally meet the coach in person.
The coach’s first response was to ask my last name, and when I said it, the coach asked if I was the one who’d written “all that bad stuff” about the team over the summer — an exaggeration if not an outright lie, as it was one quote (by someone else) in one article. I don’t remember if I corrected him or just said yes.
“Well, I expect a whole lot better from you during the season,” Coach A said.
I didn’t get slugged, as I’d occasionally worried might happen, but Coach A did indeed choose a more obnoxious, condescending manner of greeting me. I’m starting to get the feeling this coach might always choose hostility over harmony.
Instead of fighting back, I simply said, “Well, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about,” and then discussed interviewing the coach for a preview story of the basketball team. The coach said “That would be fine,” and we parted until our next conversation.
I’m proud of how I handled this situation, and I feel much more confident now that Coach A and I will be able to work together during the upcoming season. But at the same time, the way Coach A spoke both patronized and belittled me, and I don’t believe I deserved to be treated the way I was (even if it could’ve been worse).
I like the McAlester football coaches and players, and I admit I root for those kids a little bit more because of how helpful they’ve all been. I’m not sure I’ll do the same for Coach A and the basketball team.
Here’s everything I wrote this week.