Bernard Laffers criticism of FHS XC Sports, posted by XC Mom, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Oct 16, 2012 at 2:29 pm
Once again, Bernard Laffer has chosen to use the PW to air his issues about FHS Cross Country.
Having a student on the FHS Cross Country team, I find this deeply offensive. This year, he has chosen to limit any discussion about his comments only to registered users.
I would like to know what Mr. Laffer has done to address this issue besides complain in the PW? He speaks of all his expertise in running and coaching Has he offered to mentor any XC students or the coach? Has he volunteered to assist? Has he taken his concerns to anyone that can make a difference?
I would like him to know that his remarks last year stung the students hard. Many of them continue to work hard and make progress each week with 'PR's (personal record...ie., their best time). While they may not be making elite times, they are still improving and proud of that fact. He failed to recognize that in his comments last year and this year.
By the way, he mentions 'Track and Field'. FHS has a successful Track and Field program. Several young ladies competed at NCS and TMOC (The Meet of Champions) last spring. So Mr. Laffer,you don't know quite as much as you think about Track and Field at FHS.
I will respect your opinion when I see you at FHS helping. Otherwise you sound like a broken record and a grouchy old man.
Posted by Outsider, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Oct 16, 2012 at 11:25 pm
Laffer seems to have an axe to grind for some reason. His complaints serve no purpose and have no benefit. These coaches are essentially volunteers who are taking time away from their jobs and families to work with youth in the community. Some are better than others but all are better than the busybodies who sit on the sidelines and contribute nothing.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Oct 17, 2012 at 12:05 am
I thought that Bernard Laffer's post was pretty bizarre and that his boast that cross country running "can help athletes gain admittance (to Ivy League schools) at reduced academic standards" to be laughable. A better use of such a high school student athlete's time would be more time spent on studying and less time spent on high school athletics.
Posted by Bernard Laffer, a resident of the Pheasant Ridge neighborhood, on Oct 17, 2012 at 9:18 am
this is the reaction that I expected f rom people who are not familiar with x country and track and field. I am not criticizing walk or volunteer coaches but commenting on the lack of dedication of the primary on staff personnel(head coach). When you compare Amador to Foothill it is like night and day . I had competed or coached for many years and have an insiders view of the sport. Isn't ironic that the year Foothill had a walk on assistant coach , the success of the team changed. Sam Hyams went from a 4.48 miler who was considering the long jump to a school record holder (4.15
Miler). Numerous other runners recorded substantial reductions in their times. Sam was actively recruited by Brandeis, Amherst and Haverford. And ended up with a scholarship to Irvine. The returning team was among the best in the East Bay but unfortunately the walk on coach was gone and the performance was mediocre at best. a number of talented runners left the program in frustration. It is an accepted fact that elite academic schools consider athletic accomplishment as a criteria for admission Coaches identify a number of applicants and submit t his to admissions. You still have to be a good student but the coaches admission request helps. I know this because over the years I helped place numerous Track and Field athletes in elite schools. How do you think Harvard, Yale, Princeton,etc field their football, basketball ,baseball, track rosters. Princeton has a former 2 time Olympian Decathalete (Fred Samara) as their long time head coach, Mark Young a world class 400 meter runner is a head coach at Yale., Amherst has a 1.45 800 & 3.55 miler as their head coach. These coaches and their counterparts are not hired by accident. The performance of their teams matter. I am not criticizing the walk on volunteer but rather the in house(teacher) long term on staff coach. Even in upscale communities like Pleasanton sports can be life changing. All I am asking for is a committed coach. Amador Track & Field and Cross Country has one, Foothill should also.
Posted by Ptown Parent, a member of the Foothill High School community, on Oct 17, 2012 at 10:24 am
Dear Mr. Laffer,
High schools would no doubt love to have high caliber coaches for all sports. Lucky for AVHS they apparently have a great XC coach. Perhaps the FHS XC coach is the only one stepping up at Foothill. High school sports have changed dramatically since you were involved decades ago. Today HS coaches not only coach and motivate but they also have to find a way to pay for the sport, all on a measly coaching stipend. By all means, if you think you can do a better job, then please step up to the plate. Otherwise, please stop sniping and get out of the way.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Oct 17, 2012 at 10:30 am
Bernard Laffer said: "It is an accepted fact that elite academic schools consider athletic accomplishment as a criteria for admission Coaches identify a number of applicants and submit t his to admissions. You still have to be a good student but the coaches admission request helps."
Athletic accomplishments score rather low on the scale for admissions to elite universities including the Ivy Leagues. They define and pride themselves on academic achievement. Other universities - you know, the ones with, say, massive football programs - pride themselves on athletic achievement. If you're a really talented high school football athlete or maybe even a talented cross-country athlete, you can try your luck at getting admission or maybe even a scholarship at one of these more "athletic-centered" universities. But if you want to get into the Ivy Leagues then, no, athletics won't get you there and is a poor way for a marginal student to spend his time if he wants to go to an "elite" university.
To my knowledge, the Ivy Leagues don't even give athletic scholarships, which sort of shows you how much they value athletics. If a student applicant has great grades and test scores and also has some extracurricular accomplishments - including athletics - then that's a plus because the Ivy Leagues are looking for well-rounded individuals and student bodies, but academics always come first.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Oct 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm
With a child in one of the main team sports who is being courted by major schools, I say that time, talent, a lot of hard work and a bit of luck go into success in sports. Programs need funding from the school and support from parents to make sure they have adequate equipment and facilities, and get to meets, games and tournaments that give them first-rate competition against which their skill increases.
The best athletes, however, excel not because they want to win, but because they love the sport; and the best coaches I've known are in it as volunteers or for pay that doesn't even cover gas to and from practice, people who are in it for the kids rather than for themselves.
Posted by Yay Mike, a member of the Foothill High School community, on Oct 17, 2012 at 5:36 pm
You've hit one of the really difficult issues...funding. Even this year this is less funding than last year for sports.
They are an integral part of education.... and there is ALMOST NO funding.
It is a really sad situation. Parents are being asked to pick up the tab and many are not. While some truly cannot afford it, other's don't want to for political reasons or they just don't think they have to. This is going to continue to hit our programs hard.
Posted by Jorge Quero, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Oct 18, 2012 at 11:34 pm
My name is Jorge Quero, and I am the head track & field coach at Foothill high school, and have coached with the program for the last 3 years (the prior 2 years I was an assistant coach). I am writing here to respond to several of the statements that Bernard Laffer has written over the last days regarding our program.
Mr. Laffer spent a good part of his postings comparing the Foothill and Amador programs. I am not writing to do that, as I think instead we should positively acknowledge the adults (both parents and coaches) who unselfishly support the track and field programs at both schools.
However, I would like to address and clarify 3 statements that Mr. Laffer has made about the Foothill program and I have pasted his comments here:
1) “Sam Hayams set the school mile record and received a scholarship to UC Irvine. Foothill has not performed at that level since. Our children are being short changed. We should demand coaching accountability.”
2) “Even in upscale communities like Pleasanton sports can be life changing. All I am asking for is a committed coach. Amador Track & Field and Cross Country has one, Foothill should also.
3) (here Mr. Laffer compares Foothill and Amador) “The difference in X-Country and also Track and Field reflect the knowledge and efforts of the schools respective coaches. The Amador coaches have put a tremendous amount of effort into organizing a team, preparing and running workouts in and out of season and keeping abreast of the changes in the sport. They approach their job as a labor of love and take great pride in their teams's success. Unfortunately the Foothill coach does not share his counter parts passion for the sport. Nor does he have their background. He was not a runner of any note and did not run track in college."
First off, this past season at FHS we had 196 athletes on our track & field team, making it the team with the largest participation level at FHS. It is also a no-cut sport and we welcome every participant, and I am very proud of each and every one of them.
Mr. Laffer contends that there is not a committed coach at FHS and that our coaching staff doesn’t have adequate background or college level experience. For Track & Field and Cross country, we have a total of 9 coaches, and 6 of them have competed at the college level, including myself. The remaining 3 coaches are also strong athletes who either competed in high school and/or still actively exercise.
He also comments that the Foothill coaching staff does not put in the effort to organize the team, correctly run workouts, nor keep up with changes in the sport. Mr. Laffer then contends the Foothill athletes are being shortchanged and cites that FHS has not produced track athletes of sufficient enough caliber since Sam Hayams set the school mile record (which I checked was in 2008). So I thought I would share a few specifics from our last seasons:
- Regarding the lack of recently setting school records, Mr. Laffer is a bit out of date. Since 2008, we have had 5 school records set or tied– David Rajs (400M -2010), Devin Wiekler (LJ 2012), Jordan Craig (Pole Vault 2010), Rachel Reichenbach (HJ 2012) and Micheal Tang (F/S 110m hurdles 2012). Here is the link to our FHS school record site Web Link
- Last year, Foothill had 2 athletes; Rachel Reichenbach (high jump and long jump) and Devin Winkler (long jump) who qualified to compete at the State Track Meet (CIF Championships) which only takes the top 25 -30 athletes in any event from THE WHOLE STATE OF CALIFORNIA. I did some calculation as to how many athletes would be in any one event in the state (avg. # participants/event multiplied times # of high schools in state), and my calculation what that there is probably between 1500 2000 athletes across the state in any one events. That makes these 2 FHS athletes in the top 1 -2% of the athletes in the whole state.
- For the Stanford Invitational Track Meet held last April, where athletes from the western United States (So. Ca, Oregon, Colorado, Southern California, Hawaii, etc) compete and must qualify in order to participate, Foothill had 21 athletes qualify in various events by their performance and Devin Winkler won 1st place at long jump event at this prestigious event.
- For last spring’s NCS championships, we had a very large and impressive group of qualifiers: Girls 4x100m relay, Boys 4x100m relay, Makenzie Muller (100mH), Haley Lukas (400m), Precious Akanyirige (100m), Adria Revell (200m), Isaiah Langley (200m), Girls 4x400m relay, Rachel Reichenbach (TJ, HJ, LJ), Devin Wieker (TJ, LJ), Drake Kissinger (Shot), Rose Doylemason (Discus).
- Mr. Laffer references FHS coaching as not having performed well enough in order to produce athletes that are now competing at the college level since Sam Hayams in 2008. This is not correct. Over the several years, there have been various FHS athletes competing at the college level, including David Rajs (University of Arizona), Devin Winkler (Cal Poly), Kathleen Hutchinson (San Diego State), Danni Glazer (Princeton), Rose Doylemason (Cal Poly), Matt Yankowski (UCSD), and approximately 10 athletes who are competing at the junior college level.
- Lastly, I want to comment on his Mr. Laffer’s comments that our Foothill coaches are either not committed or lack passion. A number of our experienced coaching staff are volunteers and they work regular jobs outside of coaching. But for the multiple months of the coaching season, they are there 5 days a week for 3 or so hours after school, and sometimes they also are coaching both weekend days. If that isn’t commitment or passion, then I don’t know what is.
- Mr. Laffer did also comment – “this is the reaction that I expected from people who are not familiar with x country and track and field. I am not criticizing walk or volunteer coaches but commenting on the lack of dedication of the primary on staff personnel (head coach). When you compare Amador to Foothill it is like night and day.” I would like to close by offering Mr. Laffer to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) as I would be happy to get him better informed and up to date on all of the preparation and dedication that I do in my head coach role for our FHS team.