In order to succeed according to the contract, I have to make my teams win games. When people criticize the coaches saying that we only care about winning, they need to understand that we have to win to keep our contract. If we don’t win, our administration and our fans want us fired.
I rate my job satisfaction as a coach at 9. I have to deduct a point from a full 10 because of external pressure, mostly coming from my parents. Years ago I allowed myself to be concerned about their noise. Now I know every day that I walk into the gym or on the field and make an impact on my players that doesn’t matter to their parents. I know that I assembled my team in the best way to win the games. I know that I have improved every athlete in some way.
What I can do with these kids is amazing. I teach them games and fundamentals, but I use athletic discipline to instill life lessons in them. First, I teach kids to love sports, and then I take kids who are below average students and demand that they better themselves academically to play sports. When they want to quit, I ask them for more. I challenge them to work as a team with people they don’t like at school. I demand that they think smart in a tense situation.
I enjoy working with more mature teams to some extent. The challenges are that bad habits are already formed and I have to train to overcome them. I spend a tremendous amount of time with my lineup so that everyone who works hard can play regardless of skill. It’s important to me to reward each athlete with proper playing time.
Middle school teams give me the opportunity to work on solid skills and good habits. I can teach more and have the freedom to make sure I develop each athlete by giving them playing time. The pressure to win is not as intense as it is at the high school level.
When I got into coaching as a volunteer at a recreation center for at-risk kids, I was hooked. I am glad that I started the way I did. I see the big picture of what I can actually do for the kids besides teaching them how to kick a ball. I still volunteer with young kids who end up playing for me on the school team. Sometimes I have to buy their shoes or pay for their fees. I always have to teach them, but when I do, I see a high school diploma they couldn’t get otherwise.
When I first became a paid coach, I was miserable. I had parents yelling at me. For some time I tried to make everyone happy. I wasn’t the influence I wanted to be on my kids. Eventually I got to where I am now. I know I’m here for these kids and no one else.
Without a doubt, parental interference is the most frustrating part of coaching. Parents think their child is the star. I am fortunate enough to coach team sports so I can hide the weaker players and get each kid a decent amount of time in the game. It helps the athlete keep working and keeps the parent calm.
For me, coaching is not particularly stressful. There are definitely intense moments, 11 seconds on the clock and we’re two behind, but it’s not really stressful when you look at it in the grand scheme of life. The stress in coaching comes from outside the gym.
The money is extra income if you don’t make it to college or a pro team. I make about $2,000 for a six-week season in middle school and $5,000 for a three-month season in high school. I coach only in small schools. Larger suburban schools certainly charge more. I open the gym twice a week in the off season and run two camps a year. Other than seasonal games, my time off is up to me.
A teaching or coaching degree is a standard requirement for school coaching. I don’t have that, but I do have the ability to bring together a group of athletes who are very different in skill, talent and attitude and ultimately win games and titles. I would like to become a trainer in a juvenile detention center or something like that. I want to bring children back into the world and I think I can.
I’m not getting rich doing this job, but I’m certainly getting rich because of it.
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