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There is a lot more to coaching than meets the eye

May 13, 2010 - Michael Palmer

Helping athletes learn to play a game. Simple enough.

In reality high school head coaches have to do more work off the field than on.
It is important that head coaches in high school hire a competent and proactive coaching staff because when the head coach is pulled away from practice then he/she must be confident that the team is in good hands with his other coaches and staff.

One of the most difficult issues, off the field, that head coaches must deal with is the parents. A coach must be able to handle any issues that parents may have with the way that the head coach is running the program, all along while staying professional and not being demeaning.

There are also player issues. Life problems, personality conflicts, injuries and the academic problems. Eligibility is key to maintaining a team. A coach must stay in touch with teachers and the athletic director is a good resource to keep track of this important aspect.

An athletic director is of the administrator in charge of an athletic department at a high school. The AD overseas all varsity sports teams -- and many more junior varsity, freshman and middle school teams -- composed of hundreds of student-athletes and a corresponding number of coaches.

It's mind boggling if you think about all the constantly communicating with those coaches, athletes and parents regarding everything from practices to academics.

In addition to finding people to run concessions and take money for all home games and provide ticket and change for all of the above, the AD schedules games with opposing schools, arranges for student transportation to and from athletic events, manages the facilities and coordinates practice time to make sure no facility is double-booked at a given time.

Officials must be contracted and contacted to insure that they are in place for all of these home contests.

Aside from all of these other duties the AD usually attends nearly every home athletic event, in addition to select road events. A good AD also contacts schools that will be sending visiting teams to make sure the events are coordinated.
In recent years there have been several high profile incidents where coaches and/or ADs have had eligibility issues.

There was the Harrison Central tail back that did not have enough credits from a prior semester to play football. The recent Barnesville boys basketball player academic ineligibility problems. Then this week it was Buckeye Local softball.
The problem was that the team played too many games.

1) Interscholastic Participation
1.1) No team or individual may play more than two games per day except the one time
during the regular season when each school team may play three games on a nonschool
1.2) An individual may play in a reserve game and a varsity game in the same day.
Participation in both counts as two games in the contest limitation of 27 contests on
23 playing dates. Doubleheaders must be played on nonschool days or days when
there is no school the following day. (Penalty— See Sports Regulation 17.)

That makes all of the players ineligible.

17. Regular Season Participation Limitation Penalty
An athlete who exceeds the regular season participation limitation (periods, quarters, halves, or
contests) as specified in the individual sports regulations becomes an ineligible athlete. The athlete
is ineligible for further regular season competition if the violation occurs prior to the end of
the season or tournament competition if the violation occurs during the last regular season contest
in the sport concerned. The forfeiture bylaws apply as written in Bylaw 10.

I have heard that the Buckeye Local team mistakenly listed one game as a scrimmage.

19. Interscholastic Scrimmage
19.1) An interscholastic scrimmage is defined as a contest in sports in which the rules of the
sport are not followed in all respects. The length of the scrimmage is limited to a maximum
of three consecutive hours per squad or individual per day for grades 9-12 and two
consecutive hours per squad or individual per day from grades 7-8.
19.2) A scrimmage may involve any number of teams from various schools. A scrimmage does
not count in the won/lost record for any school involved in the scrimmage.
19.3) No admission of money, materials or supplies may be charged for a scrimmage.
Voluntary donations of supplies or money may be accepted at a scrimmage but cannot be
required for admission.

Then it also must be said that the coach and AD also must be aware of the rules governing a sport.

A good coach and good athletic director can get into trouble even when they follow all the rules. There are situations when items are overlooked or athletes grades from other institutions are not correctly reported in a timely manner. The sad news is that athletes who have performed well and are deserving of a win or tournament appearance are denied.

It is also important that this be filed under an unfortunate oversight and no one points any finger of blame.

In each of the above mentioned cases the people who are coaches and athletic directors for these schools are top notch individuals. If asked, each one would be very sorry that these things happened. I know all of them personally and can say without reserve that they have the school and athletes atop their priority lists each and every day.

It is terrible that this happened for the seniors on all of these teams. For everyone else there is next season,


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