Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Show

Just a few weeks ago I finally got around to watching the movie Moneyball. Now anyone who has seen the movie remembers the part where the daughter of Brad Pitt's character (Billy Beane) sings the song, 'The Show' to him. Then at the end of the movie he's driving and trying to decide whether or not to take the Red Sox job and he listens to his daughter singing the song on a CD.

I cannot help but think of this song with regards to certain situations that have occurred during this winter's high school basketball season. The song has lines like, "I'm just a little bit caught in the middle" and "I'm just a little girl lost in the moment, I'm so scared but I don't show it. I can't figure it out, it's bringing me down."

There are two girls basketball players from NH in particular who come to mind when I hear this song - Paige Parkinson (Bishop Guertin) and Peace Kabari (Manchester Memorial), as they have both found themselves caught in the middle of unfortunate situations this season.

By now most people around the state should know about the the Paige Parkinson situation. Parkinson was one of the top freshman players in the state last season, and was a starter for Nashua North. She then played on a very talented NE Shooting Stars AAU team alongside players like Jamie Sherburne (Bishop Guertin) and Sandi Purcell (Alvirne). Then over the summer she decided to transfer from North to BG. She played with BG during summer league and fall league action.

However when a player transfers from one NHIAA school to another, the school they're leaving needs to sign off on it agreeing that the transfer was not for athletic reasons. Nashua North refused to do this however. There was then a hearing in the beginning of January with both schools and the NHIAA to determine if she would be able to play and the review committee agreed with Nashua North that the transfer was for athletic reasons so she would have to sit out the entire season.

Even if she did transfer to BG because of basketball, I don't have a problem with it. Let be real here, people. Basketball is THE reason why these kids are transferring schools. Over the last few years there have been a TON of basketball players (both boys and girls) who have transferred from one NHIAA school to another, or transferred to a prep school or a private school in another state (Central Catholic, Saint John's Prep).

90, maybe even 100% of these kids are transferring because of basketball and everybody knows it. Personally I have no problem with it. You only get 4 years to play high school basketball, so if you feel like you will have a more positive experience playing at one school as opposed to another, why not transfer there? Maybe you like the coach better at the other school. Maybe you think you'll get more playing time. Maybe you want to play in a higher division in order to play against better competition and get more exposure. Maybe you have more friends or kids that you play AAU ball with at another school so you want to play with them. Whatever the reason may be, these should all be acceptable reasons for transferring schools.

Now of course academics should always come first. But if the academics are the same at both schools, then if you think you'll have a more positive basketball experience at the other school why not go there instead?

All of these transfers from the last few years, yet Paige Parkinson is the first one who has had to sit out an entire season because of it. It's a shame.

As for Kabari (pictured above), her situation just went down over the weekend. Kabari, who is possibly the best freshman player in the state, was forced to sit out Saturday's game for Memorial when they took on city-rival Manchester Central on Sam Carey Day at SNHU. The Crusaders were still able to get the win, but if Kabari had played there's no doubt they would have won more convincingly. After the game I asked Memorial head coach and athletic director Jack Quirk why his star freshman (who actually played for Central early on during summer league before switching over to Memorial) sat the game out.

"You wanna know why, I'll tell you why" said Quirk, who immediately became furious. "She had an unexcused absence from school. New Hampton is trying to recruit her to play for them, so she was over there instead of in school and because of that she couldn't play today. I only put 10% of the blame on Peace, she's just a kid. But I put 90% of the blame on New Hampton for this. I am so sick and tired of adults not doing what they're supposed to do. She has been looking forward to playing in this game for weeks, but because of this she wasn't able to."

The New Hampton School is a prep school in NH's lakes region. Their girls basketball team is currently the #1 team in New England. They're 19-1 on the season and have won 13 games in a row. Their only loss was early in the season to Nobles, a team which they then beat by 21 points a couple weeks ago in the rematch. The Huskies are led by 4 scholarship players in Madeline Blais (committed to D-I Marist), Samantha Brenner (committed to D-I Vermont), Lizzy Ball (committed to D-I Fairfield) and Melissa Frase (committed to D-II Umass-Lowell).

Now it would be unfair of me to post Coach Quirk's comments without getting the other side of the story. So I contacted New Hampton girls head coach Freddy Petkus to get his thoughts on the matter.

"I feel bad that the student-athlete in question was not able to play in her game on Saturday, but New Hampton School does not recruit students away from other schools" said Coach Petkus. "We only provide them with an opportunity to go through the admission process after the student and family express interest and initiate dialogue about the admission process."

So there you have it. A couple years ago I wrote an article on the tensions between high school coaches and AAU coaches. Well, now we're seeing tensions between high school coaches and prep school coaches. The battle between coaches continues, and unfortunately it's the kids who end up being caught in the middle (just like Billy Beane's daughter in Moneyball).

Paige and Peace just want to play basketball, the game they love. I say let's let them play, and "just enjoy the show."

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