EDITORIAL: Tough coaches often provide best lessons

York Dispatch
  • Mary Manlove was dismissed as the Dallastown High School girls' basketball coach after seven years.
  • Manlove was allegedly accused of mental, verbal and physical abuse.
  • After she was dismissed, Manlove received an outpouring of support.

Parents love their children.

That goes without saying.

When it comes to parents, children and athletics, however, a parent's love can often override a parent's judgment.

Mary Manlove, seen here coaching the Dallastown girls' basketball team, is up for approval to become the next head girls' coach at Palmyra on Thursday. Manlove was fired as the Wildcats' coach amid allegations of verbal, mental and physical abuse, but a later investigation cleared her of all accusations.

Anyone who has ever attended a youth sports event can testify to that fact. Tales of parents behaving badly are, sadly, all too commonplace.

Why are we mentioning this now?

Well, the recent firing of longtime Dallastown High School girls' basketball coach Mary Manlove was “apparently” instigated by some parental complaints.

We use the word “apparently” because we have only heard one side of the story — from Manlove. Dallastown school officials, as normal in a situation such as this, are not talking because it's a personnel issue. School officials are not legally permitted to discuss personnel issues.

Manlove, however, says she was dismissed after complaints from a small group of parents about her “coaching style.” She says she was accused of verbal, mental and physical abuse. Manlove said an investigation was then launched by the school administration, along with Children and Youth Services and York Regional Police. Manlove, who led the Dallastown program for seven years, said those investigations did not lead to any charges and she remains a third-grade teacher in the school district.

But she lost her job as the girls' basketball coach.

Did she deserve to be fired?

Without knowing all the details, that's impossible to determine.

What is known is that once the allegations against Manlove became widely known throughout the York County basketball community, Manlove received a tremendous outpouring of support from fellow coaches, former players and the parents of former players.

Seven Dallastown assistant girls' basketball coaches, from the seventh-grade level up, said they would resign if Manlove were cleared of charges and still dismissed. They made those intentions known to the Dallastown administration in a letter given March 4. Last week, Manlove said the process of their resignations has started.

High school sports coaches face an incredibly tough job. They must balance the often conflicting aspirations of players, parents and administrators. They're supposed to win, while also promoting proper values and developing the character of their players.

Many parents, however, often don't appreciate the difficulties the coaches are facing. They only see that the child they love isn't playing much, or is getting criticized at a lot.

Manlove dismissed as Dallastown High girls' coach

As difficult as it may be, however, parents must learn to see beyond the love of their child that can sometimes blind them to the bigger picture.

In a few short years, their children will enter the adult world, where their parents can no longer protect them from the slings and arrows of demanding bosses and competitive co-workers.

High school coaches with high standards can offer invaluable lessons in preparing teenagers for this next step in their lives. Those lessons, however, are often not easy to hear, for either the players or the parents.

Sometimes, however, a little tough love is the best love of all.