Coaches Deserve Better

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Coaches deserve better than this.

They work long hours. They get little pay. They get as much grief as glory sometimes. They do it because they love to coach, they love to teach and because they are passionate about working with kids.

They sacrifice themselves. They give of their own lives and neglect their own family time. They commit to the job despite the obstacles. They do it for rewards that many people don’t even understand. It’s all greater than wins, losses and championships.

So when we see coaches get dismissed like we’re seeing in RSU 10 these days, it isn’t just sad and stupid. It’s shameful.

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Coaches in RSU 10 are being forced out or not even considered for open positions because of a contract policy. Coaches are being let go. Programs are left in limbo. Athletes are paying the price. All because of a short-sighted policy that administrators are standing behind.

It states that coaching jobs held by a non-district employee are automatically opened for district employees to apply for. If someone applies for that job during the 10-day window, the non-district coach is pretty much ushered the door. Thanks for playing. See ya. Wouldn’t want to be ya.

It’s the same scenario if a job is open. They’ll look only at district employees first. If nobody inside the school system applies then other candidates can submit their names, fully knowing a year later, they could be out if somebody in the system decides they’d like to try coaching.

It isn’t a matter of resume. You could be the best coach in the state with a trophy case full or hardware. Yet all that matters is where you get your paycheck.

Experience doesn’t matter. Motives don’t matter.  There might be some coaches that apply with the best of intentions. But it also opens the door for any opportunist looking to take advantage of a loophole to get a job they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. All it takes is the job in the district, its fringe benefits and a little trumping up of ones credentials to become a varsity coach.

I don’t know what is worse, the people who put forth such a policy or the people that take advantage of it for their own gain or the people that still defend it. At some point, I keep expecting somebody to come to their senses, but it hasn’t happened. Stupid doesn’t suddenly become smart. Wrong doesn’t immediately become right.

I can understand the intention behind the policy. Schools like to have coaches that come from within the system. It’s not a bad desire to have. Having a coach that is present in the school with their kids can be beneficial. It shouldn’t be the end all, especially in this day and age when athletic directors are desperate for coaching candidates.

I even heard from student athletes during the Sports Done Right program that said they didn’t like having their coaches around all the time. Between having them in class and seeing them all day and then having them in practice, and at games it got to be a bit too much, they stated.

In the process of hiring coaches, being able to say you teach in the school system should be something to consider. It shouldn’t be the sole reason you get the job.

And it shouldn’t give someone a free pass to push out a respected, successful and experienced coach out the door without recourse. If there’s cause to remove a coach, follow those proper channels and do it right.

If a teacher wants to get involved in coaching, get involved. Last I knew, high school programs weren’t often turning people away that wanted to help.

But coaches that have done their jobs right and done it well deserve better than a policy that just replaces them with some teacher that thinks they can do better. They deserve respect and acknowledgement for the work they’ve done, the price they’ve paid and the results they’ve produced. Unceremoniously taking their job away isn’t it. In fact, it’s insulting.  It’s a disturbing message these schools are sending, not only about running sports programs but also about treating people.

Mountain Valley has already made a coaching change. Dirigo is likely to follow with both varsity jobs. It’s a sad state of affairs for both schools. If I were a coach at these schools, I’d resign immediately. If I were a student athlete, I’d vow not to play. If this is how the administration supports its people and its programs, I wouldn’t want any part of it.

What is worse is that it will be the kids that pay. Do really think having them coached by people with less experience and less talent is a good thing?

What about the message this policy sends. It tells the kids that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do or what you’ve done. All that matters is where you work. That’s not the way to develop coaches. That’s not the way to develop athletic programs. That’s not the way to develop and make young athletes the best they can be.

I’ve had a great time following and covering the wonderful athletic success and traditions of these schools during my career.  For the most part, I admired these schools because they did things right and had kids that bought into the program and delivered great results.

Now I’m disappointed and disgusted Sports Done Right has been turned into Sports Done Light. And for what gain? And for what price?

Coaches deserve better than this. The student athletes deserve better than this. The communities of these school deserve better than this.

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