Former Juneau-Douglas head baseball coach Jaime Kissner resigned Jan. 25 from his position with the school, citing poor relationships with the players and parents.
Kissner, who played Division I baseball and coached the Crimson Bears for two seasons, including a 21-6 record and state championship in 2008, said some kids, though not all, in this era of baseball don't have the respect for the game and don't put forth the effort on the field that their predecessors did before them.
"The kids aren't the same anymore - their lack of respect for baseball basically made me decide that there are better things to do with my time because coaching is very time consuming," he said. "If the kids that I have currently aren't appreciative of what I've brought to them, or their families aren't appreciative ... I said, 'You know what, there are other things to do.'
"In the end, I would say the kids were my final decision - not all the kids, but some of them - and the parents were the straw that broke the camel's back."
Kissner said some parents enabled their kids' poor work ethics on the field.
"I have a number of rules and expectations, and I hold kids accountable to those. Parents are provided with a written form showing all the rules and expectations," he said. "Some parents enable their kids instead of telling their son, 'Hey you need to step up and listen to your coach and work harder.'
"This is my opinion because I'm not there for the conversation, but instead of saying work harder, they're saying, 'Oh, poor Johnny. You're the best player on the team and you should start every game,' when they're not there at every practice watching and seeing how their kidsgoof off."
Kissner said he made it clear from day one that, although skill was involved in the decision, he would play the kids that worked the hardest and showed they wanted to be there the most.
Several JDHS baseball players contacted declined comment.
Jamar Hill, a center-fielder at the minor-league level for the York Revolution in York, Pa., had spent some time with both Kissner and the players while Kissner was coaching at JDHS. He said while the players enjoyed playing the game, there were certain things about their knowledge of the game that he felt upsetKissner.
"I don't necessarily think it's a commitment to want to be better than everybody or having a specialized knowledge about baseball, but I think it's a commitment to just be totally into it when you are playing," he said. "It's a commitment to want to know and understand (baseball) thoroughly, but not necessarily to want to run 10 miles or kill your competition or anything."
Hill referenced a specific instance when many of the upper-classmen were pulled from a game while the team was in Arizona because they weren't paying attention.
"The kids are good kids. They show up to practice and they're well-rounded kids that are in a lot of programs and get good grades, so they're accountable," Hill said. "But the kids just struggled following baseball. Things that, at a certain point, you should just get for playing enough baseball they didn't get.
"Skill-wise, they are very talented kids, but if you were to watch them play a game, it was like the game was moving too fast for them."
He also said there are only so many times a coach can forcefully push a player to give more effort before the parents hear about it.
"It's too bad because they're losing a good baseball resource," Hill said of Kissner. "I'm not partial either way, I just understand it because I know the families, I know the kids and I know Jaime very well, and I was there to see where everybody is coming from.
"As far as any confrontation between the players and Jaime, I know nothing about that."
Kissner said to have effective communication in the future, different steps need to be taken when it comes to the relationship between players, coaches and parents.
"The player, whether it's male or female, regardless of sport, should approach their coach or coaches first. And if they're not comfortable doing that, they should go to their athletic director, I think," he said. "Or they should bring the parents in and have a joint meeting with the player and the parents there. I can tell you for a fact that things go down way differently when their son is sitting there. When they try to bring up certain things it's in a whole different tune because the kid is right there and you can ask, 'Is that true?'"
Now that he has stepped down, Kissner, whose wife just had a baby boy, said he will have much more time on his hands.
"I love Juneau. I was born and raised here and I enjoy the outdoors," he said. "I plan on spending time with my family and doing things that I enjoy - my hobbies and passions in life."
Matthew Tynan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.