Open Letter From Former Reading High Girls Soccer Coach Mike Sheedy

Sheedy, who tendered his resignation in December, responds to the swell of comments that followed Reading Patch's announcement of his departure last week.

[Editor's Note: The following has been lightly edited]

Our final record in 2011 was two wins, eleven losses and five draws.

Our final game, a loss in the last minute, was played against a team that was not going to the tournament. All seniors started and played more than in any other game (for some, more minutes than all games combined). In my opinion, it was a game we would have won with our regular-season lineup. That game, winning was not important. Coaches and captains decided that it would be just a fun way to play out the season.

Five of our 11 losses were by one goal. One of them because of a penalty kick that the other team converted into the winning goal. Every practice included activities geared toward going to goal and finishing.

On Comments Section of Reading Patch Article

One comment stated that some of the “best soccer players” leave because of my “reputation.” I’d like to see who those “best” players were. Our youth program plays in a divisional league, so the players can compete at different levels of ability. The division one players are competing at a higher level than the division four players. Maybe these “best players” are division three or four players who decide to try something different. Reading Memorial High School (RMHS) has strong athletic and performing arts programs and maybe it was just time to try something different for those players.

Another comment was about me being “narcissistic and egotistical.” My goodness, that’s a personal attack. I’m guessing the narcissism is my red and black coaching outfits, and, after 11 years, an extensive collection of t-shirts and coaches polos. The “egotistical” being my buck stops here attitude. Decisions have to be owned by someone and I made it clear that I was the one who would be held accountable for all decisions. I also told my players that any newspaper interview would not “call out” any player for mistakes on the field. It takes 11 players on the field to score a goal and 11 players to cause a goal to be scored against us. 

I constantly reminded the bench players, that without their daily efforts, we would not be able to compete in this league. If they didn’t push the starters during practice, the starters would not be strong enough to compete. I believe there is a “catch 22” of sorts here; the harder the bench players work, the better the bench players get and consequently, the better the starters get.

I never called anyone “names” or belittled players. I adjusted skill work at practice to try to ensure that everyone would feel part of the team and not feel like she could not do something that others could do.

Every year, there are players who play in summer leagues and attend camps. Some players who choose to NOT attend these, suffer no consequences. Those who attend are better players than they were before attending … they might NOT be better players than those who did NOT attend … I know, not fair, but guess what about life? Many of the players who attended made themselves good enough to make the varsity or junior varsity teams, but maybe not good enough to get a starting role.

I leave knowing that I loved almost every minute of coaching, or, I should say, I loved every minute of COACHING and none of this craziness that, unfortunately, goes on behind the scenes. The RMHS coaches have been an exceptional group. Fall coaches work together, each year, to divide field space for all of our teams and the respect from team to team, across sports has been enriching and professional.

In my 15 years on staff, I can’t come up with two or three names of players who were not respectful; and even at that, let’s remember that they are adolescents. Their lives are filled with confusion and “adult” decisions, so sometimes their not so good moments, are caused by this stress.

I leave with the disappointment of not returning next year to try to improve our record, and the hope—if you’ll allow me this “egotistical” moment—the hope that I’ll be missed.

I hope your judgment of me is based on who I am and not how much playing time your daughter got.

Erin Calvo-Bacci January 17, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Good luck Mike and thank you for your time and dedication especially with the youth program as I have two who participate. To all of our town coaches: Thank you. Your jobs are becoming harder because just like our teachers, you are all expected to be more. Life is hard and it's becoming harder for our youth because as parents we are exposing them to more in hopes that they will have a better life filled with more opportunities. With the film "Race to Nowhere" two public drug related deaths in Reading and a shocking number of our children abusing drugs drugs as early as middle school and students posting alleged exaggeration of drug use on facebook how is their life better? Positive self esteem is a wonderful quality and so is humility. We are not perfect and we are doing a disservice to our children raising them as if they are and encouraging the notion that everybody wins. In reality we are mere guppies in the larger pool of life.
Jerry Hegarty January 17, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Good luck Mike, you're a class act and I personally enjoyed the brief time I spent coaching the kids in the Reading Youth Soccer program you led. I'm afraid in the world today people quickly lose touch and often forget to treat winning and losing as the impostors they really are.
Chris Scozzari January 17, 2012 at 04:00 PM
First off, Good luck Mike and thank you. I have three children active in the programs that you helped to make so wonderful. My oldest since she was 5 years old (7 years). She cried every week for the first 6 weeks you coached her because she was afraid to play. You patiently waited and at just the right time asked her to participate. She has been hooked on soccer ever since. I accredit this to you. Thank you again. As well I have been coaching in the program for over a year and had the chance to work with you. On every occasion this has been a pleasure. I have seen you do nothing but treat these girls with respect and push them ALL to be better on and off of the field. This uproar is unfortunately the bi-product of our 'every kid gets a trophy' society, which builds self entitled, spoiled and unprepared young adults. We have stepped away from 'work hard for what you want in life' and into 'complain that they have more than I do'. I have three children active in the program that all have distinctly different skill levels, yet they are all welcomed and encouraged to play at their best. They are also told that with hard work they might EARN the opportunity to play and that next level, not 'be given' that chance but yes dare I say 'EARN' that opportunity. Shame on us as parents! This is truly a sad day in Reading sports and you will be sorely missed.
John Arena January 18, 2012 at 04:36 AM
Mike: Your coaching paid in dividends to player maturity, leadership, skill development and yes - fun. I can tell you from first hand experience that my soccer player looks back fondly at the time spent with friends, family and sport. The families who participated had a a blast. While there is a stipend involved, every coach I've ever known does it for the same reason - to give back, to provide opportunities, and pass on the love of the sport to the next generation. Thanks for the memories -
mike rusinak January 18, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Mike...I spent many positive years with you...in RUSC and Red Thunder. I also observed the team as my daughter played four years of High School soccer. I always found you to be fair to all the girls in all the programs. I sat around many a kitchen table as teams were assigned and always felt the process was fair. My fondest memory of High School soccer was when I was walking by the stadium and stopped to casually observe one of your practices. You whistled a halt and had my daughter run the length of the field to give me a hug. All the girls were yelling and clapping "Go Christina." She had a great smile as she hugged me and I made a note to myself to never forget that hug. This town needs more people concerned about HUGS than goals and team records.Good Luck to you, and let us all appreciate how lucky we are.....Mike Rusinak
local mom January 19, 2012 at 04:17 PM
I appreciate Mike's time and commitment to developing good soccer players including creating Red Thunder as a locall- based, low cost, club soccer option. What bothers me is now that he is not benefitting from those good players at the HS, he wants (and feels entitled) to dump Red Thunder and is trying to push the players and families to the Winchester-based Falcons. He does not have the right to do that because the benefits to having Red Thunder in town still exist and parents, players and other coaches have put alot of time and effort into making Red Thunder teams succeed. Mike should slip away quietly and gracefully with his head high not trying to destroy a program that is good for the town of Reading where he lives.
peter lucci January 19, 2012 at 05:11 PM
That will certainly make the Reading Youth Lacrosse folks happy.
Pete Coumounduros January 19, 2012 at 10:41 PM
At the end of the day, Mike has given his all to not only the HS team, RUSC, but also to the community. I have only witnessed him making inclusion of players of all abilities his top priority. And, most of all, making it FUN for the kids. Thanks Mike.
Mike F January 21, 2012 at 01:22 AM
I don't get the impression that Mike was encouraging people move to the Falcons because he would no longer benefit from the Red Thunder program. I think that the future of the Red thunder program is in jeopardy if it does not have a person with pull in the a position to fight for it. I believe his intention was to present the falcons as an option to provide the girls playing in Red Thunder the oportunityor option to keep playing with a group at the higher competative level.. He also mentioned other club teams. Personally I hope someone heavily involved in RUSC and with town soccer takes on the effort to keep it going. I hope it is someone who is willing to fight the battles with the rec committe and others to get field time and things in order. I think it a benefit to have the club team in town.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something