The Prom


From time to time I am asked by both athletes and their coaches this question: What do I do about the High School Prom? My simple answer is go. However my answer, in this day and age of specialization and year round participation in youth and high school sports, needs an explanation.


 For those of you who have followed me over the years, that usually means a story or an analyzation/comparison is about to happen. This is no exception. For those that don’t follow me, well this is how I relate things to people in hopes that they will be able to relate what I say to their own personal experience in life. If that makes any sense, please keep reading.


A few years back a very good athlete came to me with this problem. He was invited to go to a prom but his club team was going way out of town that weekend. Since these trips were “showcases” for this player and in his family’s minds, he feared missing the trip. Also, the coach, and with the tacit approval of a DI coach of a school he was interested in going to, made it clear he should go on the trip so as not to fall behind the other players, maybe miss being seen by a DI coach, or some other self serving nonsense to that effect. He was their star player and they knew without him, they, meaning the coach and the organization, would possibly lose face if they went half way across the country and lost. Also, what excuse with they use for not having their star player playing in the game? How would they look to other “Kool Aid drinking organizations?


Let me make this clear. A night at the Prom is a night he will remember for the rest of his life. (I still remember my date to the Senior Ball.) He and his friends are going to get all dressed up, the girls are going to look fabulous, they are going to go to a fancy restaurant, possible rent a limo as a group, and have a really good time experiencing a part of teenage life growing up to adult hood. They will be creating memories that last a lifetime. This kind of event can ONLY help this person’s all around well being. It is a once in a lifetime event and should be cherished by ALL, not used as a way to exert external force over a child.

But, after explaining this to this player, I could tell he was still not convinced. So I said to him: “I happen to be connected to this college in a very small way. I doubt sincerely if I was to get a message to the Athletic Director that he would be on board with the idea that you had to skip the Prom for another game, in another town, and another “showcase.”  I told him if you are good enough, as an ex college coach I can say for most certainty, we will find you. But I also said to him do you really want to play for someone who has their priorities messed up, and doesn’t see the big picture?”  This coach is putting himself and the organization in front of your personal needs and desires. You’re going to have a lot more fun at the Prom than at this game, I assure you. He went to the Prom. One year later the coach of his college team, yes that coach was fired.