Archive for September 2012

The House of Cards

September 22, 2012

It appears that over a thousand friends have thus far read my last blog post, that one titled, “Yup, I’ve Been Fired!”  If you haven’t yet, you might want to scan it, since I may be referring to that sequence of events from time to time.

I’m kinda hoping that this is the end of the morbid sort of posts for awhile.  At least one can pray that’s so.  As a matter of fact, as I finished the first draft on this post, I sickened from mentioning my firing.  It’s necessary at times — as a frame of reference, but I decided later to just label as many events as possible as happening before, on, or after that sad day as “September 1, 2012”.

I’ll have you know that I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV.  With that, most of the following comes from the way I experienced things or feel them in my gut.  I don’t believe I’ve made any accusations here, and any wrongdoings mentioned at all are purely alleged.   

As for the so-called “House of Cards”, well…

Only in retrospect can I now piece together some of the things that may have at least partly contributed to my firing.  Ya, in retrospect I now understand why several long-time hockey friends were reluctant to help with my player recruiting efforts, only looking back now can I have a sense of why there was no real outcry from the league’s Commissioner on or after September 1, and only in hindsight can I assume why so many team owners climbed on board the former TEHL train.

Yes, I did call it the “former” TEHL.

At least the way I understand things, the league’s founder gathered bits and pieces from the prior works of a business plan designed for a start-up minor pro league, and he tweaked it (with some help, I’m sure) to fit the needs of a Junior level league.  He’d call it the Tropical Elite Hockey League, and base all of the teams not too far apart in the sunny state of Florida.

I’d seen the pro version of the business plan, and then subsequent ones geared to amateurs, and I loved most of what those contained.  Moreover, I really loved some of the thinking outside the plans…  Thinking “kids first” is always a valiant cause.  Along with that was the aim to have quality coaches in place who knew how to get players ready for the next step.  And those coaches also had to have pro and/or college contacts, so they could help place their kids at those next levels.  Better yet, every organization was asked to work with the others, this to include each coach’s willingness to help place players from other teams.  As was stated numerous times in the early going, the idea was for the entire league to show a great track record when it came to ultimately helping their players make college or pro teams.

Oh, and don’t think that plopping this new league in the middle of the Sunshine State didn’t have it’s own merits.  Hey, who wouldn’t want to coach here?  What players wouldn’t want to go to their hockey practices and then take a swim — outdoors, and in dawgone January?  And, we figured the scouts would even look forward to coming down to see our games, rather than the ones played in your typical frozen northern tundra.

Besides all that, I think there were other factors that made it relatively easy to sell the league concept to potential team owners…  High on the list had to be the founder’s outgoing first impression (explained further in awhile).  Secondly, a potential owner could believe (or be convinced?) that he or she didn’t need much out-of-pocket money to get going.  Hey, the initial payment was only $5000, with subsequent payments not due until after all the team’s players began paying to join (yes, $5500 x 20+ players comes to a tidy sum).   Of course, this put tons of pressure on a team’s general manager, because it was up to him to recruit the players and basically generate all that income — in a matter of just a few weeks.  So, if there’s one thing everyone should realize in hindsight, it’s that not such a rosy picture should have been painted for the potential owners.  I still believe most of the concepts put forth for the TEHL would have worked.  It just would have taken some time, patience, and a little cash reserves.

A funny thing happened on my way to this sunny forum…  I’d only known the league founder through telephone conversations, emails and other on-line messaging platforms.  We seemed to hit it off quite well, at first sharing similar feelings about coaching the game — how things ought to be done in the game, etc.  (We met briefly during a 3-day tryout camp for the league in late June, but that was too hectic a time to really get to know one another.)   Once I became involved in the league, however, I began to hear some negatives about this guy.  Hmmmmmmmmm…

In his defense (as well as mine), it’s hard to judge some of the things I began hearing, because the founder was a long time coach.  I mean, when it comes to coaches, there are often tons of players and parents on a team who love you, and there is always at least one who hates you.  And, let me tell you, the one or two who hate you are a lot more vocal than the ones who liked what you did for them.  I’ve lived with that for 40-years, and I’m guessing that every coach (or boss in any business) knows exactly what I’m saying.  So, maybe you can appreciate me taking a few of the negative things I heard about the founder in stride.

One thing I do know, though — again in retrospect, is that a lot of my long time hockey friends were standoffish when I asked them for help — like when I asked them to point me towards some good Junior-eligible hockey players.  Some even hinted at being leery about sending players to a league that “that guy” was running.  Of course, it still meant nothing to me at the time, when a few of them said something like, “Let me get back to you on that.”  Of course, they never did get back, nor would some of them answer my subsequent emails or telephone calls later on — many of them to guys I’d known for years.  ???  I say again, though, that I never really put all those pieces together (I guess I was too darn busy scrambling my buns off).

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I did a lot of work from home in Massachusetts for a few months.  So I didn’t really start getting to know the founder and self-appointed Commissioner until I arrived down here for good in Kissimmee, Florida on August 1.

At the start, I found him to be a friendly kind of guy — sort of a big, cuddly bear of a man.  Amid the shared laughs, though, we didn’t agree on a number of things.  I just had a vision of how a league — and a league office — should run.  And none of those things seemed to be getting done.  Even when I just casually mentioned a few more things, those seemed to fall on deaf ears.

As an aside…  You might find me a little odd when it comes to discussing a touchy issue, because I’ll only go to the point where I feel it’s a real give and take.  Very much connected to this is something I heard my dad say a few times, in that, “Once someone feels the need to raise their voice, you know they have nothing to REALLY say.”  (Ya, think about that one, because you probably know someone who is just like that:  They start to rant and rave as soon as they don’t have a real explanation.)

I’d like you to also understand the above because I think it entered big time into our relationship.  I’d ask about something, we might start to discuss it, but it wasn’t long before the guy’s voice would lift, or he’d just change the subject.

With that, here’s something else you need to know about me…  Even though you might tune me out, my stance isn’t going to change one iota, IF I feel I’m in the right.  Rant all you want, but that doesn’t win the argument, nor sway me.  If anything, it shows weakness on your part, or an unwillingness to really get to the right answer.

I think anyone in their right mind would agree with one of my earliest recommendations, to have a league website up and running, even if it was at first a WordPress or Blogger freebie.  I was having recruits and the parents of recruits constantly asking me if there was a website they could go to, and I had to each time tell them it was coming — for like a couple of months.  As anyone reading this knows, today is a new age, and customers are now used to being able to visit a company’s site for added information.  What I was worried most about, however, is that a site would have given us a little more credibility (more on this a little later).  Adding one more thing in retrospect, there’s a good chance the absence of a league website — and the occasional loss of players because we didn’t have one — at least partly cost me my job.

I also doubt that anyone would argue the need for daily — and maybe sometimes hourly — communications, from the league office to member teams.  When this got particularly tricky was just before September 1, when it would have been helpful to know which of my recruits had submitted their contracts and deposits, and thus belonged to my team.  Nothing complicated, really…  The Commissioner (or his wife) picks up the mail in the morning, and then hours later announces to all member teams, “John Smith, a defenseman from Timbuktu, has been signed by the Daytona Beach Blaze.”  Hey, this guy was supposed to be overseeing a major undertaking down here, an awful lot of blood, sweat, tears — and money — was being invested by countless people, and it just seems as though everyone deserved to know what was going on.

I also heard often that stray players were contacting the league office, looking for a place to play.  If that was so, it would have been nice to see that constantly adjusted list on a daily basis.  (Right up until September 1, I still hadn’t had a single player pointed my way — oh, except for goaltenders, once I’d already signed two.)

Anyway, since much of this post involves my looking back at some things that didn’t initially strike me as odd, I know now that by never bending in my stance — about the right way to do business — I surely didn’t endear myself to the Commissioner.  And, when I did get fired, it makes all the more sense why he never wrote or called to even say he was sorry (never mind offering to help me out in some way).  No, it’s quite possible he felt I was on to him, or on to what we’d all learn just days later.

Yes, days later…   Ever since the TEHL was first announced, the owner of a popular Junior hockey website started bashing the league — or, so we thought he was bashing the league.  More often than not, he was undressing the new league’s Commissioner.  What we were told — by the Commission and his wife — ranged from it being a personal thing to the fact that the TEHL was not advertising on the guy’s website.

Should a red flag have gone up?  Probably.  But those down here battling for what we believed in banded together instead.  I for one — despite disagreeing with many of the Commissioner’s business methods — was as worried about my own duties as all the other guys.  For the most part, those of us responsible for teams had to ignore the attacks and just press onward.

Only days after September 1, the house of cards started to sway.  Quite obviously, the rest of what I know is mostly hearsay, because I was no longer a part of the league.  I was, however, still plunked here in Kissimmee, trying to figure how I was going to survive, and only hearing bits and pieces of what was happening with TEHL affairs.

I think that a couple of new and damaging articles on that Junior hockey website contributed to the cards shaking some.  And it’s hard to know whether they contributed to a few league owners having some questions in reference to the way some things might be going on in the TEHL office.  (Just so you know, owners had already submitted their $5000 deposits, $500 from every player application went to the league office, and a larger payment was due from the owners very shortly.  So, one can’t blame those owners for wanting to be sure the league was on solid ground.)

The rest of what happened I kinda know, but I don’t think it’s fair to share it here.  Hey, I wouldn’t feel right if I explained things even a tad incorrectly.  Nor would it be ethical on my part to try to share what I believe others were thinking.  So, let me just say that the final outcome to things is that the Commissioner ultimately volunteered to step aside for a time, likely pending further investigation into the handling of some league affairs.  I guess, though, that the temporarily stepping aside thing is moot now, based on the following…

For, on the heels of all that came the word from AAU that the TEHL was no more.  And along with that, seven teams were basically told that they were on their own, or basically cut adrift to fend for themselves.  (My sarcastic way of saying it is that, it’s up to the remaining teams to now sink or swim.)

One sad way to look at all this is that a bunch of people had been dragged far from home — and invested not a little bit of money — on a promise of building something rather unique, something rather special.  And, within less than a day, a great many of those aspirations were pretty near gone…  Poof.

As the TEHL cards came tumbling down, I had some personal thoughts.  I was still stuck here in Central Florida, out of work, and still itching to somehow immerse myself in hockey again.

My initial reaction was that — although I wouldn’t necessarily call it my dream job, I wouldn’t mind acting as an interim commissioner and try to right that ship.  For sure, I’d seen plenty of things over the previous months that should have been done, and I had plenty more ideas looking forward.  Hopes of doing that were quickly snuffed, however, as soon as the league was officially disbanded.  Again, it was now just seven teams scrambling to stay afloat.

Then…  Oh, boy, then…  Despite the way I was previously handled and then dismissed by the St Cloud owner, I have always put business before emotions.  And think along with me here:  I had arranged everything around totally dedicating myself to the St Cloud job, including finding a house almost within walking distance to the rink, I was even paying extra for a room I could use for my video work and such, and I had already started getting around the St Cloud community to create some buzz.  Right about now, I envisioned my former owner — and shrimp boat magnate — dead in the water, or without a rudder.  Moreover, I suspected that, having finally arrived in Florida — long after September 1, she’d discovered that the true challenges down here weren’t as easy to handle as she thought.  With that, I drafted a pretty long email describing all the things I might do for her, and I sent it along with the subject line, “Maybe Burying The Hatchet”.   A few days later I received a rejection.  No big deal, really, especially with her explanation that she couldn’t afford me.  On the other hand, the reason she gave for axing me is something she’ll likely regret someday.

Okay, so the TEHL no longer exists.  Worse yet, all the good things the former commissioner had hoped for the league had also vanished.  And this is no small thing…  I see the possibility of two elite level coaches remaining, and there could be a third.  I see one true hockey man in a front office.   Worse yet, there’s really only one guy left among the remaining teams with contacts to college coaches and pro scouts.

The way I see things, my value won’t be realized by anyone in the league until probably mid-season, which will be too late for me, or too late for my efforts to matter…

Besides the normal day to day things that keep a hockey team functioning, players need to be polishing certain areas of their game that will endear them to the scouts.  Trust me, that I’m a master at that.  So am I a master at solving player problems (I designed a team-play teaching format that has awed NHL coaches, I invented a skating device that cures a skater’s stride in no time, and those things only tend to overshadow the new drills I create nearly every day to solve some player’s problem.)

Worse yet, most team owners aren’t going to notice they’re missing anything until they try to find places for their guys to go.   True enough, that all one needs to do is pick up a phone and ask for a pro scout or college coach.  Whether it gets answered on the other end is another matter, and whether the guy on the other end of the line believes you is yet another.

Spilled milk left to dry, I’ll stop my crying and get on to some predictions.  For, a lot of people will be watching and wondering what will come of the different stray teams left over from the house of cards.

On the day before the cards came tumbling down, there were seven.  Why seven teams?  Ya, surely an odd number, and one that never set too well with me.  In my gut, it was a hint of greed, or an opportunity for the league to collect more team membership fees and more player deposits.  (Actually, if you want to read about what I think happened, go to Amazon.com and grab a copy of my good friend Richard Neil Graham’s book, “Wheelers, Dealers, Pucks & Bucks“, to get an even better understanding.  Within those pages you’ll discover how another great idea also tumbled down like a house of cards.)

Of the seven, I see only one proving to be all that was promised many months ago, and it just might do better than that.  I see two teams perhaps not playing this season, but most likely coming back to challenge the first one in 2013-14.  I’m betting that two of the remaining four will never, ever play a game.  And, of the last two, I see the likelihood of only one surviving to play a second season.

Those remaining two play out of the same arena.  Grrrrrrrrr…  From the very start I called that, “Stupid!  Stupid!  Stupid!”  Why?  It’s partly because one is owned by the rink, and the other is ultimately going to feel like an ugly stepchild.  From a coach’s perspective, want to have a closed practice for your powerplay or whatever?  Ha.  And from a business standpoint, the two teams are going to be vying for fan attention, press attention, sponsor dollars, and more.  Hey, most rinks are surrounded by 360-degrees of opportunity, where those two teams are sorta relegated to 180 each.

My old team just happens to be the stepchild, with the other owned and operated by the rink.  I see no intentional problems there in the start — the rink people are as nice as can be, but the situation is always going be what it is.  Without a doubt, I see the rink owned team surviving for years to come.  I even see my old owner being a tough enough buzzard to make it through this season.  Only time will tell if she has the staying power to create an elite organization (perhaps in a new facility) for the future.

As for me, I’ll join my son’s team in Daytona Beach, but only on a special assignment basis.  I’m going to do some freelance hockey writing, I’m making myself available to local youth hockey programs, as well as continuing with my many on-line businesses.

A fleeting thought I’ve had over recent days is to start my own team.  Somehow I can’t see 40+ years of hockey knowledge and experience going down the drain.  I’ll also have the benefit of sitting and watching the remaining teams, to learn from their successes and failures.

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PS:  My good friend, Brenda V, is from Montreal, Canada, and she is perhaps the rosiest personality I have ever encountered.  Anyway, true to form this morning, she sent me a reminder that, “Life has good surprises also, not just bad ones…”  With that, I will once again hope this is my last morbid post for a good long while.

Yup, I’ve Been Fired!

September 7, 2012

Please understand that this isn’t something I wanted to write — it’s something I felt I had to write.  Shortly you’ll know why.

This entry is also a little late, again for reasons I’ll need to explain.

Ya, you read that title (and various other posts around the Internet) right.

So, why did I feel the need to address all the gory details here?  It’s because I’d spent months hyping the new Tropical Elite Hockey League, I’d promoted my new team to every hockey and social media contact I had (literally around the world), and I’d posted regularly throughout Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.  I even had some fun telling about the exploits of little Raggs and me in transition — from our lifelong home in Massachusetts to the day to day grind of me being a GM/hockey coach down here in the Sunshine State.  With that, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to just suddenly change my work status without answering a myriad of questions (from upwards of 15,000 on-line folks).  So, sadly, the explanation is to follow…

The reason I stalled a bit on this announcement was so I wouldn’t rattle a number of great young hockey players who were still exploring opportunities in the TEHL.  There was nothing I could do about the guys I’d already enlisted for my original team (hopefully those kids and parents will come to understand), but I knew I surely could save the few who were still up in the air.  (And, thank God, I was able to place a few awesome players elsewhere.)

Okay, so about the firing…  It actually took place in what some friends have called a “classless” act — in an email that arrived in my inbox at 1-minute before midnight on September 1.  (Just that might give you an indication of what kind of person I’d been “working for” over a few short months.)  Needless to say, I spent a number of hours that night staring up at my ceiling, and on occasion climbing out of bed to pace when sleep wouldn’t come.  If you can appreciate it, I’d never been fired from anything in my entire adult life.  So, classless?  Well, you decide…

Actually, I think the situation started badly — on at least two fronts…

First, I don’t think I was hand picked by my team owner, but instead suggested to her by the league’s Commissioner.  In other words, she likely felt no loyalty to me, and she didn’t know me from Adam.  (At the same time, I suspect I was placed with her for good reason — so that she could rely upon my years of experience over a long and grueling season of high level hockey.)

Secondly, we never even communicated until close to two months after I’d been appointed.  She’s a shrimp boat owner from Alaska, you see, and she was evidently extremely busy in her work until very recently.

Then, if there’s a third thing that went wrong in that relationship, it’s that our first ever conversation had to be about money.  That’s not a favorite topic of mine, and I’m wondering how many other folks feel the same.  Still, I had to ask her at one point if she’d perhaps reimburse me for a very costly trip I had to make — for the team’s sake — to the league’s first tryout camp in Florida.

I’m not the type to take advantage of such situations, so I did everything economy-style, and didn’t even submit receipts for things others might have.  No matter, getting reimbursed proved a slight nightmare.  In fact, in reflection, I think the entire fiasco ended up being all about money…

As many of my closest friends know, I perceived my new assignment as my “dream job“.  And, just like I began with other new positions over my 40-years in coaching, I really dug in, beginning the night I was hired.  From that moment on, I (maybe wrongly) even abandoned other work back home to start building my team.

In case you’re wondering, I didn’t connect with my owner for so long because it appeared that the Commissioner was pretty much dealing in her behalf while she took care of the shrimping.  That worked for me, because I had plenty to do over those first few months.  In fact, already believing I’d make a fairly decent salary once I got on the job, it didn’t initially bother me that I was spending a lot of my own money — mainly going to player showcases and racking up some hefty cell phone bills (picture calls to numerous US states and Canadian provinces, as well as to far away countries like Latvia and Germany).

Now, I’m the sort to think in pictures (a visual guy is what I am), so I knew I needed a timetable for how things would work:  when my players would need to start school, when the first practices would be, etc.  In other words, back in May, I’d have loved to have been able to look at a calendar and visually see deadlines of all sorts.  Knowing such things also would have made it easier for me to plan my physical move from Massachusetts to Florida.  Unfortunately, nothing more than a permissible start date for practice ice-time came early enough to help me…

Sometime in late June, things did turn a bit.  Suddenly the Commissioner thought it important for me to get down south and on the job — like in a hurry.  Whoa!  I had a huge house and a separate downtown office to empty.  And, looking at the combination of what I’d already spent and what it would cost to relocate, I thought it a good idea to know that I’d begin getting a paycheck once I did get on the job.  Those things in mind, I suggested a relatively sane date for both the owner’s sake and mine, with August 1 giving me about a month to get a whole lot of things done back home.  I think the owner’s response was, “That’s fine.”  Oh, it didn’t sound like a thrilled or enthusiastic response, but…

At this point, I have to ask you:  What amount of money would you have been willing to spend in order to do something you thought you were going to really love?  Well, I’d said good-bye to nearly $5000 by the time I arrived in Florida, and it crept closer to $7000 by September 1.

Okay, so those money issues…

At a time when I could have really used the cash flow, a money order reimbursing me for the tryout expenses arrived botched (it took about 5-days to come in the mail from Alaska to Florida, and it was dawgone unsigned, which caused my bank to inform me that it wouldn’t be good to use for about 7-days).    The night before that check did clear, my debit card was rejected at a grocery store as I attempted to buy that night’s dinner.  (Talk about wanting to cry.)

That experience — of dealing with checks from far away Alaska — confirmed what my banker had advised me, in that my paychecks should be done as direct deposits.

Of course, I still had the need to use my cell phone — and actually all my own resources — for the sake of recruiting and conducting other team business.   So, I thought it time to ask my owner about at least helping with the telephone charges, suggesting that she might arrange a company phone for me.

Her answer to both the direct deposit and telephone questions was, “I’ll have to think about.”  With that, she sailed to sea on her shrimp boat for about a week.

I’ll ask you again, just how much of your own money would you have put into what I was doing?  No matter, because that was just about it for me.  I was close to broke, mainly from spending all my own money on my owner’s business…

Many Facebook friends must have wondered what was going on when I posted the accompanying photo along with the claim that I was temporarily off the job.  You see, two weeks had gone by since I arrived in Florida, and the best answer I could get about a paycheck was that my owner would think about it.

Of course, if she rejected the idea of making direct deposits, I’d be left to wait 5- to 7-days for a check to arrive, and then a possible week more for it to clear.  If she rejects my request for a company phone, I’m going to continue to shell out tons of my own money to do business for her.  So, I ask you yet another question:  Who benefits from all these stall tactics?  Ha!

Well, despite getting some crap (from her and other unnamed sources), I evidently did get my owner’s attention.  I mean, she agreed to send me $1500 (how the heck she arrived at that number I’ll never know).  Of course, she must have been chuckling at my pain, as that money order (this time signed) came by way of the usual Alaskan Pony Express.

By the way, I think it’s been well established (over about 40-years) that I love what I do.  I’m also nobody’s fool, and I wasn’t really about to quit recruiting, despite saying so.  No, as I later told her and the league Commissioner, “I never missed a stroke” during that time I’d threatened to sit out.

Okay, so why do I think I got canned?

To begin, it’s my understanding that my owner put up $5000 for the right to fire me.  (Please don’t laugh at the fact that I’ve invested more so far than she has; it pains me too much.)  And my job was to recruit enough players to help make her next league payment.  (Again, don’t laugh, just because it’s her GM/coach’s blood, sweat and tears — not to mention mostly his money — that would help her to continue to be an owner!)  Well, while I didn’t by any means have a full roster yet, my understanding was that I wasn’t doing badly compared to most others.  In fact, I was told several times by league personnel that I was doing better than others.  Actually, a few more recruits submitted contracts after my firing, and yet more interested players are still becoming available from teams and leagues that are folding, from tryout camps where they didn’t make the cut, etc.  So, just to sort through all that, there would have been plenty of players long-term, but I believe my owner was more concerned with not waiting, and not needing to use her own money to keep things going.

If she can hang anything on me, it’s that certain other things I should have accomplished haven’t yet been done.  If I have any excuses — about finding housing for some kids, or finding jobs for some others, here goes…  First, I’m uneasy about putting extreme pressure on a few local folks who volunteered to help.  Secondly, if you get the sense that I’m all alone down here, you’re right.  My owner has threatened to come for several weeks, and still hasn’t shown.  Moreover, with her asking far too often how many kids I had signed, I too often dropped those other projects and jumped right back on the recruiting.  Again, I’ve been alone here, and I could only do one thing at a time.

Here’s the bottom line, though, along with a final question…  How well would you function if you were trapped to extremely low resources?  I’ll tell you this:  I can shift into overwhelm mode when I’m worried about bills.  And, faced with still having to pay for all my recruiting efforts, just imagine how I feared making or taking too many long distance calls, or buying the gas to attend meetings or games where recruits might be seen.  In other words, while my owner was crying about needing more players to pay her bills, she was actually keeping me poor and hampering my ability to reach those players.  Some might call that “penny wise and pound foolish”, but I spell it “S-T-U-P-I-D”!

You might even laugh at me again, as I tell you that I spent $30 on gas to travel to and from Orlando for a showcase — on the two nights leading up to my firing.  Maybe you’ll also laugh at me, knowing that I’ve been paid a grand total of $1500 for exactly one month’s time on the job (from August 1 to September 1).  To this day, she still owes me about $50 that was missing from my reimbursement check.  (At first I thought that was just a clerical error, but not after following her track record.  My guess:  She just tried to beat me out of that money.)

Lastly, although I’m far from home and without a job right now, and although my reputation might be slightly tarnished, I’m almost relieved to be relieved.  In all my conversations with that woman, I found her kinda hard to like — a hockey mom with power and (supposed?) money (some of it still mine).

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Footnote 1:  If there’s another reason I needed to write this, it’s for closure.  So, unlike any other post I’ve ever written, this one is only staying visible for awhile — mainly so it answers friends’ questions, and somehow unwrenches my gut (punching a keyboard is more productive than other alternatives).

Footnote 2:  Shortly after my firing, a friend asked who might replace me.  A light suddenly came on, and I blurted out, “Someone like that doesn’t pull the trigger unless she already had a coach more to her liking (like someone she can control, and get for even less money)!”  God help him.  Hopefully he sees this, too, so that he might find a way to be paid in advance.

Footnote 3:  I’ve already explained why I believe I was fired — mainly because I didn’t recruit enough players to fund her next steps in the team purchase.  However, once that team is full, she and her players are going to miss what I could have done for them — in the way of coaching and readying them to please scouts, and in making the necessary college and pro contacts several months down the road.

Footnote 4:  In case anyone is wondering what the current recruiting process is like, I need to start by saying that a lot of potential recruits don’t exactly tell the truth.  Oh, some players are sincere from the get-go, and they either sign or don’t sign fairly quickly.  The majority of kids, however, only let the GM know that they’re “fairly interested”.  The GM seldom gets a real explanation, but they likely know that they’re going to attend a number of other tryouts before making a final decision.  Some have dreams of a higher level, some are hoping to make a team closer to home, some are hoping to avoid paying to play — or paying less than our league, and so on.  As you can see, then, it’s a drawn out process, that requires numerous follow-ups — in the way of phone calls, emails, social media messages, etc.  And that’s something my owner both failed to realize and actually hampered me in doing.

Footnote 5:  There are folks “out there” who are hoping the TEHL fails.  And, upon first glance, someone is going to think the above is good fodder for them to write about and cheer about.  Sorry, SH, but this is a story about one difficult owner, and not an indictment of the league and its concept.  The other owners and coaches I’ve met or talked with so far are hard at it, and doing things the right way.  For sure I feel at least slightly wronged by the league, but that’s an issue for another time.

Footnote 6:  Do I believe anyone could have helped save my job — other than me, or a smarter owner?  I guess I’m going to leave that to the consciences of a number of folks.  I did surely take note of the calls and messages that came in (or didn’t come in) right after the firing.  In fact, my first Facebook post on the morning after noted that, “The silence is deafening!”  Ya, and some still haven’t said a word.

Footnote 7:  What’s going to come of me and Raggs?  Well, God’s had answers in the past, and I’m betting he has another one in store for us.  Stay tuned.