Program Priorities

January 10, 2014

Many school districts face more requests from their constituents for sports programs than they have the resources to accommodate, so they are forced to make very difficult decisions. For three decades, when I’ve been consulted, I have offered and stood by this advice.

First, I advance the premise that if the activity is educational, there is just as much potential for the education to occur at the junior high/middle school and subvarsity levels as at the varsity level. Just as we would not discriminate against one race or gender, we should not disadvantage one age or ability level. In fact, with a little less pressure to win, it is likely to see more education at subvarsity levels and more reason to sponsor them.

Second, I advocate the position that schools should avoid sponsorship of any activity for which a qualified head coach cannot be secured. Qualified personnel are, in order of priority:

  1.  a teacher within the building who has current CPR certification and completed CAP.
  2.  a teacher within the district who has current CPR certification and completed CAP.
  3.  a teacher in another district who has current CPR certification and completed CAP.
  4.  a certified teacher from the community who has current CPR certification and completed CAP.
  5.  a non-certified person who has current CPR certification and completed CAP.

I urge schools not to descend lower than this for program leadership. Coaches are the delivery system of the education in educational athletics; they are the critical link in the educational process. More problems occur than are worth the effort if the program is in the hands of an unqualified coach.

Next, I urge that schools rank sports on the basis of cost per participant, and give higher priority to sports that spread funds over the greatest number of participants.

Next, I urge that schools place lowest in priority the sports that cannot be operated on school facilities and create transportation, supervision and liability issues, and give higher priority to those conducted at or very near the school.

Next, I urge that schools place lowest in priority the sports which are most readily available in the community, without school involvement. If resources are precious, then duplicating school programs should be a low priority; doing what the community can’t do or doesn’t do should be given a much higher priority.

While I’m a fan of school sports, I recognize that an athletic program has as much potential to do harm as to do good. Programs without qualified coaches that are conducted for small numbers of students at remote venues and without comprehensive school oversight and support may create more problems for schools than the good they do for students.

Bare bones budgeting will require brutally honest assessments based on priorities like these.

Kent City's Evers Selected for NFHS National 'Coach of the Year' Honor

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

January 11, 2023

Kent City cross country coach Jill Evers has been named the 2021-22 National Coach of the Year for girls cross country by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association.

Evers was selected by a committee including representatives from all eight NFHS sections – Michigan is part of Section 4 with Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.

The following brief bio includes an excerpt from Evers’ coaching philosophy, which nominees were asked to submit after being identified as candidates for the awards.

Jill EversJill Evers joined the Kent City athletic staff as an assistant cross country coach in 1991 after previously coaching a season each at Allegan High School and Allegan Middle School. She took over Kent City’s girls and boys varsity cross country programs in 1993 and also has served as head girls track & field coach since 1993. She led Kent City’s girls cross country team to a Lower Peninsula Division 3 Final runner-up finish in 2021, the program’s second runner-up finish under her leadership, and she’s also guided Kent City’s girls program to 15 league and seven Regional titles and nine total top-eight Finals finishes. She previously was named an NFHS Section Coach of the Year for girls track & field in 2006 after leading Kent City’s girls track & field team to its first MHSAA Finals championship in that sport, and inducted into the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2012. Evers also is a longtime science teacher at Kent City and advisor and mentor for a variety of school activities in addition to coaching.

“I know people say, ‘Athletics is an extension of the classroom,’ but I believe it's so much more than that. While participating in sports, young people can learn about themselves and others, challenge themselves and grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. Athletics is where we learn life lessons, such as how to lose with grace, cheer for teammates and even opponents, win with humility, deal with adversity, empathize with others, respect all those involved, be grateful for healthy bodies and opportunities to compete and push ourselves beyond what was originally thought possible. Success is different for each person, but I believe cross country lends itself to individual success. Everyone can improve and learn lifelong healthy habits. Everyone can set and achieve goals. Those who aren't as fast often earn the respect of the more gifted runners because of their perseverance. It is my job as a coach to encourage, motivate, and challenge all students who want to participate, and then congratulate them for a job well done.”

Three more Michigan coaches earned honors in Section 4. Mark Posey was honored in boys golf after leading Big Rapids to a 10th-place finish in Lower Peninsula Division 3 in 2022 after four straight Finals runner-up finishes. (There was no LP boys golf season in 2020 due to COVID-19.) Lake Orion boys lacrosse coach Ronald Hebert was honored after guiding his team to the Division 1 Quarterfinals last spring after taking the Dragons to the Semifinals in 2021. Scott Werner was honored in girls track & field after leading Pewamo-Westphalia to a runner-up finish at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals. P-W shared the LPD3 Finals championship in 2021 and has won titles four of the last nine seasons (not counting 2020).

The NFHS has been recognizing coaches through an awards program since 1982.