Area high school coaches are walking on egg shells lately.
Who can blame them?
The power of parents has reached a new level this school year, with coaches, including some who have been very successful, being booted out of their jobs.
A young, motivated and knowledgeable softball coach has been pushed out. A long-time assistant for one of the city's top baseball programs was given a pink slip. A head football coach is gone. Even Jay Darien, who led Longmont High School's girls basketball team to back-to-back state runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2011, has been let go.
Vocal parents have had a hand in all those moves.
Other solid and successful coaches have made decisions to leave simply because they've had enough of dealing with the complaints from parents.
Recently, 233 readers responded to a poll on BoCoPreps.com asking if parental influence goes too far in prep sports. A whopping 87.55 percent (204 of the 233 readers) said yes.
That's not to say parents aren't justified on some level. Some of the complaints are valid, but I haven't seen or heard of these coaches doing anything that warrants losing a job.
It's nothing new, parents taking complaints to administration and demanding results. It's happened from time to time over the years. The number of cases this school year, however, has made good coaches nervous.
I've spoken with long-time coaches in the area who are now beginning to worry about their jobs. These are good coaches; coaches with winning records; coaches with good records in the classroom; coaches who love teaching young adults.
They aren't worried because they know their conduct is a problem. They're worried because they know if they offend the wrong parent, their tenure as coach could be over.
Yes, parents should have a voice with the coaches. They are paying good money so their kids have the privilege of being on a team. Parents ought to be in communication with coaches because those men and women have a hand in shaping their children's lives.
Parents also ought to step back a bit before their voices get too loud.
What is the point of your child being involved with high school athletics? Is it to get a college scholarship? Is it to get on the court and score 3 points per game? Or is it to get the experience and life lessons of being on a team and learning to deal with ups and downs?
Upset with playing time? Take an honest look at your child. Is it because the coach is doing something wrong or has an agenda? Or is it because the freshman or sophomore playing ahead of your senior simply has more talent and gives the team a better chance to win?
Coaches also need to understand the important role parents play, and make sure they are in constant communication with the parents. Take the time to explain why their child isn't playing or why you made a decision you made.
A large majority of the parents and coaches get it. It's the ones who don't that are creating coaching vacancies and the recent power surge felt by parents can't continue.
Parents and coaches both play a vital role in the development of high school students and athletes. When they work well together, the students get a lot more out of the experience than you might think. When they work against each other, the students suffer.
Very few coaches are going to be liked by every player they coach, but the St. Vrain Valley is full of great coaches. Let's hope the parents don't keep running them out of town.
Follow Brian Howell on Twitter: @BrianHowell33