"Hey, they want to make sure their kid is given a fair shot," Harry Meader, Irvine vice principal, said. "Sure, it might cause some stress, but I'd rather have that than a bunch of people who didn't care."
Meader said Irvine administrators have averted major conflicts about playing time by having parents sit in on a practice "to see what else their child is going against."
He said it's an effective tool that has a tendency to "take down the blinders that are sometimes created out of love."
Jack Kennedy, Edison principal, said his door is always open to parents with a gripe.
"Along with their kids, they \o7 are\f7 the school," he said. "They built the school; they keep it going. If they have a problem with something, whether it be a science teacher or a basketball coach, you have to listen."
Kennedy said he gets just as many complaints about teachers as coaches but admits: "People tend to get far more emotional when they're talking about sports. You have to try and separate the fact from the passion."
Should a high school coach who doesn't win be considered a loser?
Unlike college coaches, public school coaches cannot recruit players. They work with what's in the neighborhood. Is it realistic to blame a basketball coach for not winning because no one in the district is taller than 6-feet 3-inches?
"I had a team before with weak talent, and we got killed by this team coached by a friend of mine," Glenn said. "Then a couple years later, I had the better talent, and I beat his team. Does that mean that all of a sudden I became a better coach than him? Of course not. People are blind to one fact. You don't win without talent. Maybe it's just too logical. Maybe they don't want to believe it."
When a coach is let go for not winning, many believe it sends a message to kids that winning \o7 is\f7 the most important thing.
"I don't know what other message you can get from that," said Dr. David Selder, who has taught sports psychology for the past 20 years at San Diego State. "When high school administrators bow to community pressure, the educational objectives of sports many times become subverted. An administrator should judge a coach as a teacher, not as a winning percentage."
The only thing more disastrous for a coach than losing might be winning. Absurd? Consider Brea's Trakh and Mater Dei's boys' basketball coach, Gary McKnight.
Both took over undistinguished programs. Brea had gone 4-64 in the three seasons before Trakh's arrival in 1978. Since then, Brea has been to three Southern Section finals and won the 3-A championship in 1986.
But when Brea lost to a nationally ranked team at a tournament in New York last season, Trakh found out that parents were calling each other saying, "Well, the coach blew another one for our girls."
Looking back, he says he enjoyed the days building the program much more. Days when there were no expectations.
"The measure of our success has become, 'Did you win the Southern Section championship?' " he said. "I try to keep my sanity with that kind of thinking, but it's hard."
McKnight talked about leaving Mater Dei two seasons ago because he was fed up with expectations at the school that anything short of a Southern Section championship was a failure. McKnight has led Mater Dei to five titles in six seasons.
"You give the people what they want, and they only want more," he said.
McKnight won his fifth Southern Section championship this season, but because his team entered the playoffs at 21-6 and in second place in the Angelus League, he said people thought of him as having an off-year.
"I go 21-6 10 years ago and they'd be marching down Bristol (Street)," he said.
What might distinguish Orange County parents from those in other areas is that they are not only willing but able to spend sizable amounts of money on their kids' sports endeavors. The median home price in Orange County is $193,563, the most expensive in California.
They have the resources to pay for any one of an army of private instructors who will teach their children everything from running to pitching a softball. They can provide excellent equipment.
"Look at the area I coach in," said Jeff Roberts, Capistrano Valley wrestling coach. "There are parents who can afford to send their kids to wrestling camps in Iowa, and they are expensive, and keep them there a month. I've been at schools that couldn't scrape enough money together to send a couple kids to a local camp. The people here can invest a lot in their kids."
To a person who has devoted this kind of support, winning is sometimes not enough. Chuck Gallo, Mater Dei football coach, has never had a losing record at the school but has had numerous players yanked out of his program and school because their parents didn't like the way Gallo was using their child's talent.