Forty-two years ago this past August, I showed up at a high school near Milwaukee for my first teaching and coaching job. I remember being introduced to the football team just before the first practice, and then just 60 minutes later, on the field, I heard a player call me “coach.”
The next day I overheard one player say to another, “Coach Roberts said . . .”
In 24 hours, I had been transformed from Jack Roberts to Coach Roberts. And it gave me a very special feeling.
After parents (and sometimes before them), the coach is the most important person in the educational process of school sports. Good coaches can redeem the bad decisions that administrators or parents sometimes make; and bad coaches can ruin the best decisions of administrators and parents.
Coaches have enormous influence over how kids think, how they act and what they value.
There is no time or money better spent in school sports than the time and money spent on coaches education. Every coach, every year in continuing education regarding the best practices of supervision, instruction and sports safety, as well as in ethics, values, sportsmanship and leadership.
The MHSAA Coaches Advancement Program should be the centerpiece of every school district’s ongoing, multi-faceted training program for coaches. We expect continuing education for classroom teachers. Why would we ever consider less for those who work with large numbers of students in settings of high emotion and with some risk of injury attended by hundreds or even thousands of spectators?