Coaching in the “Big Time”!

Coaching in the “Big Time”! Apr 2, 2014


The true backbone of the coaching profession are the people who do it every day in the high schools, middle schools and youth sports programs that deal with children in their formative years.

At a recent athletic directors’ meeting, the topic of attracting and keeping coaches at the high school level came up and was discussed for a long period of time. The essence of the discussion was that it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract good people to the coaching profession. The coaches that are on television each week for various professional and college teams are simply not the nuts and bolts of what is necessary in today’s youth and scholastic sports. The true backbone of the coaching profession are the people who do it every day in the high schools, middle schools and youth sports programs that deal with children in their formative years. The impact that these coaches can have on the children under their care can have a lasting effect on the young people for their entire lives. That’s a pretty awesome responsibility and one which should not be taken lightly by those coaches, league and school officials and parents.

The days of the “three sport coach” are almost gone. I can remember growing up and knowing that the high school coach in town was the head coach of football, basketball and baseball. He was revered and respected. His players worshipped the ground he walked on. Parents never questioned his decisions and if you got in trouble with him…you were in double trouble when you got home. There was never an issue with his or her authority. These men and women were loved and respected by students and parents alike. I am reminded of this each year at our annual Athletic Hall of Fame dinner.

The memories, the stories and conversations are amazing. But the truly wonderful thing to see is the respect that the grown men and women have for their former coaches of yesteryear. It is not uncommon to see tears from both the players and coaches at these events as they recall their youth and what it meant to each to be a part of their respective athletic teams. In one instance one gentleman told a story of how his former coach had tried to help him grow up and recognize his potential to accomplish things with a more serious effort. As a high school student, this man was in his words” a little wild”, not always focused, more than a little selfish and self-centered. He struggled with his maturity and direction as a teenager. Now a successful professional in his business, he gave a great deal of credit to his former coach for helping him get through those teen years and staying on him to always give his best effort and nothing less. The coach had become a lifelong friend and mentor and now with a chance to publicly say “Thank You” he did just that. There was not a dry eye in the house as he finished his acceptance speech for his honor as a Hall of Fame athlete… all while speaking about his former coach.

Where will these future leaders come from? Who will really want to do this job? Is it worth the aggravation, the money the time and effort needed? These are questions that challenge everyone associated with the business these days. With the horror stories that abound each and every day, why would anyone put themselves through the daily grind of coaching youth or scholastic sports?

Just recently there was a story of a mother who was suing another parent for slander concerning remarks she made about the woman’s husband. The husband was volunteer coach for a 10-year- old soccer team. Maybe that town’s soccer organization needs to develop a parent code of conduct. What seems absurd is becoming the norm in many cases. Could that code cover every situation? Would you, as a parent, be quick to volunteer your services if you knew you were going to be criticized every step of the way? If you were being paid, would you start to question if it was indeed worth your time for the money that you’re paid? At the high school level, I recently figured out that the amount of hours some coaches put in at the high school level totaled over 5,000 hours dedicated to their sport. In and out of season responsibilities, practices, scouting, games, pre and post season, summer workouts and other duties have turned high school coaching into a year-round job. Based on the amount of money a typical high school co ch is paid it works out to be about $1.88 an hour! Now one person suggested to me that coaches are not in it for the money. I agree! However, whether volunteer or paid, I can’t imagine they are in it for the headaches, aggravation and problems that may occur from their efforts.

As we head into the spring athletic season, I am going to ask each of you to begin a change of direction, attitude and appreciation of the efforts of the men and women who coach our children. Instead of criticism and second guessing, let’s praise them and support them. It’s time for all of us to revisit the value we placed on these coaches and what they gave to our youth in past times. If not, we just may be asking ourselves in a few years, “Why don’t people coach anymore?” And that would be a terrible shame for all concerned.

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