Memo to Parents: ‘Chill Out’


If it is written in a rule book somewhere that parents have a right to be obnoxious while watching their children in an athletic contest, would someone please point out that decree to me.

And if it is their unalienable right to unmercifully ridicule their teenager, or their teenager’s coach--or worse still, some other teenager--or an official in front of a crowd of people, why is it that only a few parents take advantage of this privilege?

Because, thankfully, most parents have a life and understand that it’s just a game, not life or death.


And because they understand that they embarrass their children with such foolish behavior.

It is the mean, win-at-all-cost loudmouths that give athletes’ parents a bad name.

Perhaps if The Times printed the names of the obnoxious parents in the linescores, they wouldn’t be so quick to voice their opinion at high decibels, over and over.

Then again, perhaps they would. Perhaps the attention is exactly what they are craving.

Attention is what the mother of a Crescenta Valley High softball player got at a recent game against Hoover, with about 250 in attendance.

After Hoover overcame a two-run deficit to beat the Falcons, 3-2, the Crescenta Valley mother showed no class.

“Happy birthday, Hoover,” she screamed, her jaw jutting out like a bulldog. “Happy birthday.”

She was beyond obnoxious. She was plain hateful.

Is this how she would want her daughter to act? Is this good sportsmanship?

Hardly. But she’s not alone.

A few weeks ago at a Thousand Oaks-Newbury Park softball game, a Newbury Park father was so outraged by an umpire’s call that he jumped from his beach chair and threw a tantrum.

He screamed at the umpire and jumped up and down with fists clinched, much like a 3-year-old who had his favorite toy taken away.


He was so out of control, Newbury Park Coach Pete Ackermann had to ask him to settle down.

If parents feel they must be active and vocal participants in their children’s games to show their support, they should at least have some fun with it.

Like the Rio Mesa father who didn’t like an umpire’s call during a softball game against Louisville on Saturday.

When Louisville speedster Becky Witt beat out a ground ball to the shortstop for a base hit, the Rio Mesa father yelled, “That’s two [calls] you’ve missed now, blue.” But he did it laughing and shaking his head while pacing in front of the bleachers.

In the linescore, we would list him as: [Rio Mesa father’s name here]--”Noisy, but not obnoxious.”


Westlake softball Coach Darwin Tolzin had a few visitors at his home Wednesday night, before Camarillo defeated Westlake, 9-1, in a Marmonte League game Thursday.

The visitors didn’t talk to Tolzin, a former Camarillo coach, but left a calling card.

“They [threw toilet paper on] my house,” Tolzin said. “They wrote, ‘Scorps. We love you, Darwin,’ all over the driveway.”


Hmm, wonder who did it?


Monroe Principal Joan Elam is not the most popular administrator on campus these days. She certainly isn’t a favorite of the football team.

But, can anyone blame her for making a decision that could possibly save someone’s life, or at least prolong it?

Recently, Elam told Fred Cuccia that he would not return as football coach because she was concerned about “the health and safety of Fred and the students.”

Elam and a district doctor do not believe Cuccia has recovered fully from a stroke in July.

Cuccia, 52, who turned around programs at Hoover, South Pasadena and Poly before taking over and doing the same thing at Monroe in 1994, took a medical leave last season, but assumed he would rejoin the Vikings for spring practice.

Because she worked with Cuccia’s wife, Carol, for six years at Sepulveda Junior High and because she has been a longtime friend of the family, Elam agonized over the decision.


She knows Cuccia loves football and left Poly for Monroe so he could coach his only son, Rocco.

Still, as a principal, Elam has to be concerned with more than hurt feelings. She has to think about the health and welfare of the students and teachers at her school.

Rocco Cuccia, a junior center, views the situation differently.

“If he did go down, wouldn’t he rather die doing something he loved than something he hated?” he said.

Perhaps in time, the Cuccia family and the Vikings will realize that Elam made a responsible choice, the right choice.

Cuccia will be missed on the sidelines. But he would be missed more if he weren’t alive.