Press Box for 11/18
With all the issues facing coaches year in and year out, I am sure they ask themselves many times “Why do I do this?” “Why do I continue to do this?” You know their spouses and significant others have got to ask those same questions of them, too! Coaches struggle with many issues like reduced funding, athlete specialization, academic success of their athletes and that ever looming pressure to win. Throw in the time-consuming aspect of long hours for small financial reward, and you have the perfect recipe for a fool’s errand. Coaches dealing with chronic problems put in unrelenting long hours, but the job also demands patience and creative problem solving skills, too. For all of these reasons you may be reminded about that hit country song way back in 1978 by Johnny Paycheck, “Take This Job and Shove It”, but coaches don’t feel that way. They love it.
To find the answers to my question I spoke to several area high school coaches and asked them this question, “Why coach?” The answers may surprise you, and they are as unique and varied as the coaches themselves.
Head Football Coach Zach Heasley of the Paden City Wildcats had this to say. “When I first became the coach at Paden City, I only thought of how I could manage the x’s and o’s of the game. After getting in the program and establishing relationships with the kids and their parents, it gave me the direction I wanted to take this program. I want to build trust with the kids, give the kids reasons to play, build confidence and prepare them to perform. While we are off to a rocky start, I can see the progress we have made, and I believe I will continue to see the growth. With that will come wins,” Zach explained. Zach graduated from Paden City High School in 2015. After attending West Liberty, he saw this job as an opportunity to give back to his community. It was a big motivator for him to return home and implement his vision. Zach is on his way to rebuilding the football program and feels his players and coaches have been a true blessing for him.
Vance Ash, Assistant Baseball Coach at Tyler Consolidated has many answers to the question. Vance says, “As a coach I can believe in you, but you have to believe in yourself to reach your full potential. Embrace the target on your back. That is what we work for.” Vance believes in giving kids ownership of the program and getting them invested. He coaches because he cares about the kids. He challenges them, expects their commitment and he holds them accountable. Vance says, “Leadership is not being in charge, it is about taking care of people.” He believes respect is earned, honesty is appreciated, trust is gained and loyalty is returned. Vance’s values, as I have listed, are simply why he coaches.
The well known and successful coaching dynamic duo of Tyler Consolidated, Head Volleyball Coach Richard Summers and his wife, Assistant Volleyball Coach Tracy Summers gave their answers as well. Richard shared, “I coach because I had great coaches in high school who were very influential in my life; as a matter of fact, one of them still is. He tells the girls on his team, “My job is to help you become comfortable being uncomfortable.” Richard believes that statement applies to life, and hopefully having the experience of being part of one of his volleyball teams will help his players for years to come.
Tyler Consolidated Assistant Volleyball Coach Tracy Summers helped to answer the question, too. Tracy said, “To me, a coach is a teacher first, and I love teaching.” She also loves seeing her players learn, grow and mature over the years they are involved in their program. Another great reward Tracy sees in coaching is the chance to develop lifelong relationships with players and their families. “My former players and I have celebrated together and mourned together, and I treasure all the special moments I share with my girls,” she added.
In closing I think every coach has his own private thoughts as to why he or she may chose to go into the coaching profession. Maybe those reasons aren’t the same at the beginning of the journey as they are at the end, but that can be said about most jobs. I spoke with several area coaches and used the thoughts of those coaches mentioned above to summarize what many in the area shared. I think it is important to let you know I did not have one coach say they did it for the money. Our coaches and teachers, especially this year, are very underpaid for all they do for our kids. So the next time you feel compelled to criticize a coach, remember they have your kids best interest at heart. Instead try saying “Thank you!” It sure means a lot to a coach.