Greetings Parents, I hope you all are doing well. I’m just getting home but I was advised to send this notice today. I’ve been on the phone with several of you this evening and I’ll try to make this brief, as I’ve had a long day aside from my efforts at Sugar Creek.
As you all know I’m the owner, program director, creative marketing administrator, liaison, web-designer, payment collector and oh yeah head coach of our awesome youth program here at our beloved Sugar Creek Golf & Tennis Club. Through the many hats I absolutely love wearing, there are some things, and definitely not intentional, I have dropped the ball on. Although, I do not agree with the claims brought against me, I’m not above accountability.
Where I have made mistakes, I’ve asked forgiveness. Where I have misunderstandings, I seek correction. Where I foresee planning challenges, I’ve asked for help. In some capacity, I have had conversations with most of you regarding how I can make your child’s tennis journey the best experience ever and not only the youth players but with your family dynamics as we navigate all the moving parts of the program. With that being said, I am not perfect.
Unfortunately, I have a parent that isn’t happy with the direction of our program, specifically, I have a parent unhappy with me. Despite my efforts to do all I can to appease, this parent has made claims against my character that aren’t true, thus, our program is in jeopardy of termination.
(I’m not doing a good job of making this brief) Last Fall, a parent misunderstood how I incorporate rainout days. As you all know, my program consists of weekly payments. This isn’t mandatory, although registration is required (So I have a proper headcount), I have parents that pay per session. In this particular instance, a parent paid for the week, nothing new as the parent has done several weeks prior. Although, we did not experience many rain out day during the week, on certain weeks during the Fall, I still opened up drills for Saturday session. I do this for three reasons.
1. I have players that only participate on Saturdays.
2. I provide an added value by having an extra day of tennis despite not having a rain out during the week.
3. It helps our program grow when I can show a robust group of young players on the court when the adults have their league matches or Candace is running her USTA tournaments.
Apparently this strategy has backfired on me. At least for this one parent that didn’t realize I was going above what was expected. On a Tuesday last Fall, I canceled tennis due to rain. At first, I notified through group chat that I would make up. Then It rain on that Saturday I had planned use as our make up day. So I cancelled again. Here is the first issue… I told that particular group I wasn’t going to makeup the Saturday rain out and we would get back to regular practice times next week. You may be wondering, why did I do that? The answer is simple (Or at least I thought it was simple)…I felt that I didn’t need to make up that particular Saturday, since that group had come on Saturdays previously when that particular program wasn’t inundated by rain on Tuesday and Thursday. The parent approached me about my decision to cancel on the Saturday. I responded sharp and very firmly that I have provided Saturday classes in the past for free so cancelling one shouldn’t be a big deal. In the attempt to play off my agitation, I was sarcastic and crass in my response. I went further in my explanation. I continued by letting the parent know that "8u players should only get 30 minutes on Saturdays. I asked the parent to remember that I've had hour long practices in the past on several occasions, so my choice to not make up one Saturday would be ok, as the players are developing well. The parent mentioned that none of what I stated was on the website. Again, I replied quickly but with clear agitation this time. I responded, "Everything I stated is on the website, the only thing I didn’t mention was the added lessons I offer from time to time". The extended group lessons that are provided aren’t listed because that’s me just enjoying being out with the group. She made me aware that I was rude and she felt disrespected. I’ve since apologized to the parent and as a resolution I asked the parent how should I word verbiage on the site to make it easier for parents to understand rain days. I accepted the critique and amended the site to reflect the parents suggestion.
Despite my intentions to apologize for being crass and my lack of sensitivity, (I was totally unaware that I was being insensitive) the parent reached out to Terry Alexander the manager at Sugar Creek. The parent mentioned that I’m disrespectful to women and I lack communication and therefore shouldn’t be over a program such as this. I explained, in my defense that my response although, as I look back on it, was firm and crass, was a reaction to a parent that couldn’t see the many Saturdays that I provided free.
Fast forward to two weeks ago. My 8u players had their last match of the season. I choose not to have this parent's player compete in the official Saturday matches. As an alternative, I selected the player along with 4 other players, to compete in the mock matches instead. I wanted to give all the young players an opportunity to play. The player has competed in other official matches previously, in fact, the player competed in the official matches the week prior. I have 7 players on the team where only 4 players compete officially. As an added value, I have mock matches scheduled for players not in the official line up so they are still able to compete and have fun on Saturday match days.
In an effort to find solution where only four players compete, I designed mock matches. apparently the mock matches backfired on me, at least for this parent. The same parent that called Mr. Alexander in the Fall has once again made a complaint. But this time she went straight to the top. She complained to executive director of DeKalb County’s Park & Rec. First name Chuck. (Don’t know the last name) Chuck oversees David Flaherty who is the operations director of Sugar Creek and a few other parks in DeKalb County. Mr. Flaherty oversees Mr. Alexander, the manager of Sugar Creek.
I want to be very transparent with you all. Chuck was informed by the parent that I do not communicate to parents effectively regarding league play and I do not let parents know who is in the line up week to week. I do not talk to women with respect. And I prohibit other coaches from coaching my youth players. The parent mentioned that I bully coaches. Imagine me bullying coaches. A father of 4. A staple in the community and God fearing man! Me, a bully? I think not! But…Because Chuck, an executive director, was informed of this complaint directly from the parent, ( no matter how erroneous) a complaint that reached the top of the corporate chain of operations, this was given HIGH REGARD and Mr. Alexander, without fully thinking of his actions, chose to send a memo through email that details my termination.
Instead of meeting with me and the parent to get this simple misunderstanding resolved and allow me an opportunity to defend these ABSURD ALLEGATIONS, Wednesday of this week, I was given a memo through email, from Mr. Alexander, to terminate my duties with the Youth Tennis Program effective immediately.
The memo stated that I have not submitted a detailed structure of my program to parents. This memo stated that I do not submit the 20% coaching fee required by contracted coaches. It stated that I am disrespectful to employees and coaches. And the memo stated that I’m in violation of communicating professionally to parents who have players at Sugar Creek. I vehemently deny all of this!
Yesterday, I asked for a meeting with David Flaherty and Mr. Alexander to discuss this memo of termination. This is why I had to cancel my 8u classes yesterday. I invited a few parents to speak on my behalf if the moment presented itself but most importantly I need advocates by my side. And they were all so eloquent, confident and respectfully stout. As a result, the termination is in the process of review until Monday of next week. Valid points were brought to the meeting yesterday and my initial efforts to at least have Mr. Alexander rethink his decision was successful. But, The youth program is suspended this weekend, while Sugar Creek administration make decisions regarding the Youth Program's future.
I have been granted permission to conduct our session today as scheduled.
I failed in making this brief as I needed to be fully transparent with you. In the philosophy of the customer is always right, I accept that an Honest mistake was made with regards to a firm yet crass response to this parent regarding Saturday cancellations last Fall…I have since corrected.
By no means am I disrespectful to women! I would never shame my wife, both of my daughters and my two sons! I would never discredit the way my mother has raised me. Most of you know all of my family because they have all helped me reach the goal of servicing a beautiful youth tennis program to this City! I’m proud to say our Youth Program stands alone with not only our engagement but skill level development from 8u up to 18! I’ve done all I can to fully disclose and manage all expectations for league play. I have a website that, if anyone who cares to see, details how my youth program is run. I’ve shared the site with all of the front desk employees at Sugar Creek. I manage the Sugar Creek Facebook and IG social media where combined we have over 1300 followers. I have a stack of receipts that date back to 2019 that show ALL MY 20% COACHING FEES PAID TO SUGAR CREEK.
If you would like to advocate for the continued operation of our youth tennis program with me at the helm please reach out to Mr. Terry Alexander and Mr. David Flaherty. Their contact info is below.
Flaherty, David L.
Terry, Alexander N.
To respect their privacy, I will not include their personal phone numbers.
Please excuse any typos and spelling errors.