Holding Athletes Back to Excel in HS Sports is a Growing Trend

January 4, 2022 / Athletic AdministrationBaseballBasketballCoaching
A recent article from the Evansville Courier & Press discussed the growing trend of parents holding back their student-athletes in an effort for them to mature more, and therefore, excel in his or her sport of choice.

The article’s author, Gordon Engelhardt, gives a few local examples of high school basketball players who went on to play at the NCAA Division I level as well as a minor league baseball player. He speaks to various athletic directors who have opposing views on the topic.

excelBelow is an excerpt from the Courier & Press article.

“Oh yes, I think my parents holding me back did me a lot of good athletically and helped me excel,” said Ernie Duncan, a 2014 Harrison High graduate who is 10th on the City’s all-time leading boys’ basketball scoring list (1,428 points) and helped lead the University of Vermont to a pair of NCAA tournament berths in college.

“I was ready to play right away in college and it took less time to adjust. It also gave me a better chance to go and play a Division I sport and achieve what I achieved.”

Colson Montgomery, a sensational multi-sport athlete who was drafted in the first round by the Chicago White Sox in July, turned 19 on Feb. 27, his senior year at Southridge. He went on to spark the Raiders to the Class 3A state baseball championship and lifted them to the 2A semistate in basketball. Montgomery hit .287 last summer for the ACL (Arizona Complex League) rookie league White Sox.

Even though it’s totally legit, he by definition was playing one grade out of his class.  We’re just trying to shine a light on the issue. It’s a loophole being exploited. The classic letter of the law vs. spirit of the law debate. Again, neither Montgomery nor the Duncans did anything wrong.

Barr-Reeve principal Jeff Doyle is against what he describes as a “win at all costs” philosophy.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea for people to be held back for athletics,” said Doyle, who starred at Loogootee High School and was a member of the University of Southern Indiana’s NCAA Division II men’s basketball runners-up in 1994. “I don’t agree with that.”

Unlike Doyle, North athletics director Tyler Choate has no issue with students being “held back.”

“If parents are following that by law, I see no issue with students being older for their grade,” said Choate, also North’s girls’ basketball coach. “I believe it is solely a parent’s decision.”

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Reitz boys’ basketball coach Michael Adams discussed the possibility of holding back his son, Drew, several years ago. But Michael’s wife, Donna, basically told him he was crazy.

“There’s no secret it does make a big difference (athletically),” Michael said. “I talked to my wife and she said, ‘Why do that?’ He was a straight-A student and he’s a doctor now. She was right.”

Drew was valedictorian of his senior class at Reitz and played basketball for Marian University.

To read the full article from the Evansville Courier & Press about athletes being held back in order to excel at their sport of choice, click here