In praise of self-advocacy


To the Editor:

After reading last week’s article about Gary Simmons, long-time varsity baseball coach at MVRHS, being replaced (“MVRHS baseball coach replaced,” Feb. 14), I was disturbed and disappointed. The fact that he was replaced is not what I am writing about.

Coach Gary Simmons is one of the most passionate coaches we have ever had here at our high school. He lives and breathes baseball. Is he perfect? Of course not. Does he spend time working and crafting his trade? Yes, he does. Gary was not just the high school baseball coach, he also coached several youth sports. He was truly committed to the program, the kids, the school, and the Island.

It would have been nice if the parent making the accusations identified themselves. What happened to the days when, or if, you had an issue or a concern with a coach, the player first talked with the coach? This is called self-advocacy. This has become a lost skill.

Times have changed. I long for the good old days to get good again, when good coaches coach, players do what they are coached to do without asking why, and parents encourage and support their kids but also tell them to do as the coach says. This is also referred to as accountability.

I have no doubt that Kyle Crossland, the new varsity baseball coach, will do a great job. I just hope he can coach without having to constantly look over his shoulders wondering if parents approve.


Donald Herman

Oak Bluffs


  1. As one of your former students, let me just say that you absolutely hated it when we stood up for ourselves. It’s pretty clear you just want a bunch of worker bees to do what you say. I’d rather have coaches and teachers that encourage students to exercise their critical thinking skills, not just follow.

  2. Coach Herman. I think it is rather naive that you think players never brought up these issues with Coach Simmons. Team captains themselves tried to address these issues in person with the coach. Former players-not just parents-wrote to the principal, assistant principal, and the superintendent. This goes back many years. It is with the support of parents and other school personnel that MANY former players finally felt the strength to speak out in force. As did parents. And in pretty big numbers. These players deserve credit for being brave and speaking up, not to be ridiculed by someone wishing for the good ol days. This self advocacy you speak of is precisely what transpired. When the self advocacy fails what is a kid to do? Give up? No. The brave and committed take the next step. This is what happened.
    As in all cases, I truly wish people knew the whole story prior to speaking out for or against something. Coach Herman, you reacted to an article without knowing what really happened. I would expect better.

  3. Just as Mr. Herman advocates for others, it’s time Mr. Simmons was held accountable for his record. If a coach is threatened or feels it is out of line for a student athlete to ask “why” maybe they are part of the problem.

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