SI Vault
March 17, 1997
Although only 12 players make the team, everyone who tries out should be commended on his hard work and effort.BRIAN COOMBE, COATESVILLE HIGH '96 STATE COLLEGE, PA.
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March 17, 1997


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Although only 12 players make the team, everyone who tries out should be commended on his hard work and effort.

High School Tryouts
As I read Mark Bowden's The Unkindest Cut (Feb. 17), I felt as if I were reading my autobiography. As a 16-year-old with basketball aspirations, I know what the Coatesville High players were going through. From the first day of open gym in September to the final day in November, making the team at Robert E. Lee High in Staunton, Va., was all I could think about. People need to realize the intensity and desire high school players bring to the game.

Since leaving Coatesville High in 1977, I have synthesized a chemical that had never existed, written a chapter in a book on pediatric nutrition and cochaired a national symposium on psychoneuroimmunology. I have even had three poems printed in an anthology of physicians' poetry published by UCLA. But I haven't felt the elation described in the article since 1976, when my name was on the list and I was lucky enough to represent the Red Raiders. Thanks for helping me to remember that day.
ERIC K. BONSALL, Mechanicsburg, Pa.

When I was playing high school basketball in the suburbs of Detroit in the early 1980s, not being cut was the most important goal in my life. Fortunately for me, making the varsity was one goal I did attain. Getting playing time, however, was one I did not.
STEVEN B. BENDER, Wynnewood, Pa.

The article brought back painful memories of being cut from my high school baseball team in the 10th grade. Like many of the Coatesville players who were cut, I felt I was good enough to make the team, although I never did. I would like to remind kids that Michael Jordan was cut the first time he went out for basketball.
ZACH SHOTLAND, State College, Pa.

As a former high school coach, I can sympathize with Jim (Scoogy) Smith. The toughest decision coaches make is not selecting a strategy during a game but choosing 12 players from the 40 or 50 who try out. We wish we had enough uniforms for everyone. We will continue to take abuse for cutting kids and for losing games, but we keep coming back. We endure it for the kids. They are the most important consideration.
ERIC WILSON, Bowling Green, Ky.

Your story made me realize how much I prefer reading about high school athletics to reading about pro sports. High school teams give us a glimpse of sport in its purest form, that of a child who wants to play the game.
STEPHEN KENT, Williams Lake, B.C.

I have been coaching for 21 years, and I agree that selecting the team is the hardest part of the job. Posting a list for all to see is the worst way to announce who has made the team. I give each young man a sealed letter. He may open it right away or wait until he is somewhere private. The letter tells only that player's fate, it does not list the whole team. This way, the player is the first to know, and no one is staring at him to see his reaction if he fails to make the team.
JIMMY Cox, Raleigh, N.C.

Smart Kid Theory
Having a smart kid on each team would be a small step toward changing society's obsession with athletes (POINT AFTER, Feb. 17). Young people are bombarded with the idea that sports ability is far more important than intelligence. With a smart kid in a position to win or lose a game, it would show that just because you can't dunk a basketball or hit a home run doesn't mean that you cannot receive the same glory that athletes do.

Leigh Montville's subtle tongue-in-cheek article about smart kids is a prizewinner.
Minerva, Ohio

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