Keep on Coaching

February 1, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A few weeks ago, I finally got my first chance this season to watch a friend coach his basketball team. After guiding some others at the lower levels, this is his first time running the varsity – something he wasn't sure he wanted to do with a 1-year-old just learning to walk, but a challenge he ended up taking on to the benefit of all those involved.

Simply put, he’s good. I've seen a lot of teams and a lot of coaches over the past 15 years, and although I wouldn't know much of what to do if I were walking the sideline, I felt pretty qualified in telling him I was impressed – even if he didn't buy that I was offering an unbiased opinion. The best news is he’s gone from not sure about this a few months ago to talking about next season.

We know, at least anecdotally, that coaching continues to get more challenging. The time commitment has grown substantially to make running a program a year-round endeavor in a lot of sports at a lot of schools.

That commitment – especially for coaches with children of their own – was a main reason referred to in a New Haven Post-Chronicle story Saturday that noted 23 football coaching openings in Connecticut at one point this offseason. That state has 146 football teams – meaning roughly 15 percent will have new leaders this fall.

And that got me thinking about my friend, about how glad I am he’s given this a shot, and how I've seen so many others either not do so, or not stick around long despite having some pretty nice success.

A study published last winter in Interscholastic Athletic Administration magazine – a product of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association – noted some predictable results of a study that sought to determine the biggest challenges faced by first-year high school coaches.

The toughest according to the study was balancing the demands of coaching and teaching, experienced by nearly half the respondents – 98 percent of which coached high school teams and 81 percent of which are teachers.

The next six reasons all were noted by at least 30 percent of those in the study – personal fatigue, securing community support, securing and caring for facilities and equipment, parental contact, keeping non-starting players motivated, dealing with schedule interruptions and motivating athletes to achieve consistent, peak performance.

Nothing there is earth-shaking, and most if not all of these challenges are faced by high school coaches regardless of how long they've been in the field. But I got a little more perspective from some of the 32 items that ranked as least challenging to the first-year leaders – keeping in compliance with state and league regulations, dealing with substance abuse issues, teaching sport skills and creating a positive team atmosphere – things that seem most important, and yet appear to be easiest to do. I’m not sure what that tells us – but I think it tells us something.

Click to check out the entire three-page breakdown of the study, plus the researchers’ recommendations to remedy some of what first-year coaches face.

Giving back to Saginaw

I love reading about high-level athletes – like a star-studded group of alums from Saginaw – giving back to where they got their starts.

Pittsburgh Steelers star LaMarr Woodley made a big impact before the start of this school year by donating $60,000 to cover all participation fees for athletes in his former school district. The Saginaw News’ Hugh Bernreuter writes today about how Woodley (Saginaw High), the Philadelphia 76ers’ Jason Richardson (Saginaw Arthur Hill) and former Oakland Raiders standout Stu Schweigert (Saginaw Heritage) have combined to give more than $865,000 back to their home communities.

Bernreuter also mentions the non-monetary contributions of the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green (Saginaw High) and former Indianapolis Colts receiver Blair White (Saginaw Nouvel).

Click to read more about it.

Quote(s) of the Week

While rifling through more papers on my desk, I found an article from the Washington Post from Sept. 2011 titled “How high school sports save our schools.” I was drawn to it in part because I spent more than a decade in a newsroom, and it was a piece by a reporter covering education who instead of reporting on school boards and the like, delved into the importance of interscholastic athletics to education as a whole.

He spoke of how participation continues to grow even as resources dwindle, and of data supporting that extracurriculars like sports are more effective than academic classes in teaching leadership, teamwork, time management and “other skills crucial for success in the workplace.” Later, he mentioned a study noting that those who participate in extracurriculars earned more a decade later.

Click here to read the entre piece. These passages struck me most.

“Coaches might be the only faculty members still allowed by our culture and educational practice to get tough with students not making the proper effort. They have the advantage of teaching what are essentially elective non-credit courses. They can insist on standards of behavior that classroom teachers often cannot enforce because the stakes of dismissing or letting students drop their courses are too high. …

“Students do better in activities they choose. If we provide more of them, led by committed adults … that can make a difference. We know the bad news about education. Dropout rates are high. Achievement scores are stagnant. But sports participation is going up, despite pressure to cut it back. Let’s cheer about that and look for a way to draw in more students.”

Record-Setting Saving, Historic Scoring Send Grosse Ile to 2018 Boys Soccer Finals

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

May 17, 2024

Grosse Ile’s Division 3 runner-up season in 2018 included multiple MHSAA team records for defensive and offensive success.

The Red Devils set a record with 21 straight shutouts and 24 total over 29 games, and also finished third all-time scoring 158 goals.

Their 23-game winning streak that season remains tied for seventh-longest as Grosse Ile finished 27-2.

See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA boys soccer record book, and click the heading to see the record book in full.

Boys Soccer

Keeper Ethan DeJager and Grandville Calvin Christian were nearly unbeatable in 2020, finishing 19-1-2 and runner-up in Division 4. They set a record allowing only four goals for the season, while DeJager is fourth on the season shutouts list with 19 over those 22 games and tied for the second-longest shutout streak at 13. DeJager was a senior that season.

Seth Davidson capped his four-year varsity career this past fall on three records lists for shutouts – 15 over 22 games this past season, 26 for his career and nine straight as a senior. Berkley as a team also made the fewest goals allowed list, giving up only 11 in finishing 18-2-2.

Caden Saxton capped a memorable four-year Flint Kearsley varsity career in the fall with four entries in the record book. He made the assists list with 27 over 21 games as a senior and also the single-season points list with 65, and made career lists in those categories with 63 assists and 149 points, respectively, over 71 games.

Jonesville advanced in its District this past season with an 8-5 overtime win over Blissfield on Oct. 12, and Warrick Elder played a big part scoring six goals. He’s a senior.

Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep’s run to the Division 4 Semifinals saw contributions from several players, and junior James Whiting was among those leading the way. He made the assists list with 30 over 22 games, and also the total points list with 49. He also sits on the career assists list after three seasons with 66 and one more season to play.

Holland Christian made the team list for 12 straight shutouts from Sept. 8-Oct. 19, and 15 shutouts total over 20 games this past season. Junior Adam Bergman was in goal for all 15 including the 12 consecutive.

Muskegon Oakridge senior Arturo Romero-Serrano capped his career in the fall with his second season reaching 40 goals, netting 42 total to finish his four-year career with 105 and also on the MHSAA career points list with 125. He also added a second six-goal game, against Muskegon Catholic Central on Aug. 25.

Monroe Jefferson’s season came to an end Oct. 11 in a District game against Riverview, but senior Gabe Gelso finished with a state record. He made 49 saves in the 9-0 defeat as the Bears had only eight players total.

Ian Klenk added eight more shutouts in goal this past fall to finish his three-season varsity career with 25 in 60 games and make the career list in that category. He’ll continue his career at Kuyper College.

PHOTO Grosse Ile's keeper Brendan Ebler (1) gathers the ball and charts his next move during the 2018 Division 3 Final.