The Road Not Taken


To me whether you choose to have foreign players on your team or not is a choice you should be able to make as an institution, athletic department and coach. It should not be made by others for you. When this happens it is a mandate. And I have not seen many mandates I like.

For me if I was back in collegiate coaching I would make the choice to do it with American juniors because I look at that as the toughest challenge. It is the way a coach who is confident in his abilities can do it.

It is the sporting thing to do for me. Look, when I go bird hunting I purposefully use a single shot .410 cause I like the challenge that provides for me. It is tougher to hit the birds and often I miss. But whenever I have ever gone bird hunting it has not really been about killing the dang birds. It has been about the camaraderie, seeing all of the training work with the dogs come to fruition in a wondrous performance, and the whole outdoor, country, hunting experience.

It is the same thing for me coaching tennis. It is about watching the kids get better and development that gets me the most excited.

So if I am going to recruit players I want to recruit the kind of guys or gals I would want to be around. If I wanted to be around the French or the English or the Pakistanis or the Russians or the Swedes I could do like my friend Robert Davis and go live in all of those places with those people. For me coaching on the collegiate level should be about training your athletes to be the best they can be and giving that chance to American kids. And don’t give me grief about this being a bigoted viewpoint. It is a patriotic and sporting viewpoint. I want to take kids that are competitive and have spunk and communicate with them in English and get them to play great tennis.
It does not seem like a challenge to me to recruit your team good with the fuzzy foreigners. It is a challenge to me to do it with the kids that come from your neighborhood, your state and your country. The eyes will be on you.

But I also want everyone to have the freedom to do it as they see fit and to choose whatever road they want to choose. So I begin this topic section of my blog with Robert Frost’s poem entitled, “The Road Not Taken” because it is ultimately the choice a coach makes to do. The coach decides early in their career where they want to recruit their kids from and who they want to be around and how they want to be thought of as a coach. You either could do the job and motivate your school and the players to be pumped about doing it your way or not.

Each week I will highlight for you a different school and coach that has done it with Americans and foreigners and let you be the judge of what is best.

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