Leading in the Classroom and on the Field
“Coaches who can outline plays on a blackboard are a dime a dozen. The coaches who win are the ones who can motivate their players.” – Vince Lombardi
Adolescence is a pivotal time for growth, activity and emotional and physical development. Adults often play the biggest role in motivating and influencing adolescents. Although teachers play a central role in students’ personal growth, coaches may have the most impact on students’ character through their motivation, discipline and dedication to the sport and team. However, coaches of high school sports teams throughout the nation face abundant challenges beyond winning. From immense demands on their time to inadequate compensation and even disgruntled parents, coaches have a difficult, but unique position to help students excel beyond the classroom.
High school sports have reached a new zenith of competitiveness, achievement and scrutiny by community members, alumni, school administrators and parents. Today’s high school coaches have more demands on their time and more pressure to perform whether they coach the high school’s football team or the cross-country team. The National High School Basketball Coaches Association (NHSBCA) outlined some of the biggest challenges coaches face in today’s high school athletic environment.
Time commitment and compensation: A successful sports program requires an immense time commitment from the coaching staff both during the season and in the off-season. Many practices take place after school and require additional preparation to plan workouts and game-day strategies. Additionally, coaches must attend games and meets throughout the week and on weekends. Many sports teams practice year-round, which leaves little time for holidays and vacations. Furthermore, coaches have long reported the inadequate compensation for their time and services. Most simply coach because they love the sport and team.
Financial stress and restricted budgets: School districts throughout the country face tremendous budget crunches that affect high school athletics. Teams have smaller operating budgets, which reduce travel opportunities, limit equipment and uniform purchases and cut coaching staff. In some cases, schools may cut entire teams to allocate funds to other sports.
Competitive balance: In many states, public schools must compete with private and charter schools at state tournaments and competitions. These private and charter schools often have higher operating budgets, superior coaching staffs and the ability to essentially recruit talent to their sports teams. Many public school coaches feel these schools have an unfair advantage, which makes it more difficult for public school teams to perform and achieve at higher levels.
Just cause: In many states, seasoned high school coaches often face the possibility of losing their coaching position without just cause for removal. Although a few states have protections set up for coaches, most do not; coaches risk losing their position, which adds stress in the off-season.
Stakeholder scrutiny: High school athletics have many stakeholders who expect teams to win. From athletes and their parents to school administrators and alumni to overzealous community members, coaches must sometimes deal with numerous egos and opinions while trying to coach their teams to victory. In some cases, their team’s budget depends on a winning record.
Overly involved parents: Parents of athletes often pose the biggest challenge for coaches. A recent survey conducted by Growing Great Relationships (GGR) in cooperation with the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) found that more than 50 percent of respondents felt that overly involved parents were their biggest concern with the parent–coach relationship. Coaches must keep an open line of communication with parents to avoid these conflicts.
The demands of student–athletes: Coaches must understand their student–athletes are students first and foremost and must prioritize academics. Coaches and athletes may find this difficult, especially if the athlete is a star player. The GGR survey showed 58 percent of coaches listed competing school demands, such as clubs and academics, as the biggest hindrance to the student–coach relationship. However, setting high expectations for academic achievement early in the season can help coaches avoid issues in the future.
While challenges persist for many high school coaches, the benefits of mentoring, leading and championing your student–athletes far outweighs the difficulties you might face in the process.
Discovering a Path to High School Athletics
Most school districts throughout the country require coaches to be full-time faculty members. This requirement allows teachers to work with student–athletes both on the practice field and in the classroom.
Teachers can become coaches to extend their influence beyond the classroom and onto the playing field. Coaches reach out to students in a new environment and push them to become the best they can be. Professionals who want a career change, feel passionate about sports and mentorship and enjoy working with children may find career satisfaction by earning their teaching license and becoming a coach.
Notre Dame College (NDC) is a school in your own backyard providing you with an accessible and affordable college degree. Earn an Ohio Teaching License today or choose from a broad range of career-focused, accredited degree options. Adult students benefit from our online degrees, which merge convenience and flexibility with the NDC academic tradition of excellence. Make an investment in your future with a degree from NDC.
- So You Think You Can Teach?
- Ohio Education System Measures Up in National Rankings
- Get a Teaching Certificate in Ohio for Career Satisfaction