The Texas High School Coaches Association is hoping to get ahead of a projected shortage of coaches as the state continues to see up to 6,000 coaches leave the profession each year.
As a result of the problem, the THSCA is launching a mentoring program that will begin in March of 2020. The hope is that the program will keep more coaches coaching instead of looking to start new careers in other professions.
“If we don’t change this trend, it could become a disaster for our profession in the end,” Glen West, second-year assistant executive director of the THSCA and a 34-year former football coach, told the Caller Times.
West noted that there are a number of reason of the shortage, including a strong Texas economy.
“When the economy is good, it’s not good for coaching and teaching,” West said. “The people who do it for a long time love it, but they know they’re not going to make a ton of money. People can make a lot more money in other professions.”
Coaching salaries are still not keeping pace with other professions.
Another reason for the shortage is the Alternative Certification Program, which allows college graduates who did not major in education to obtain a probationary teaching certificate. Those who obtain that certificate then have two years to complete a standard teaching certificate.
“It started out as a way for people in the business world to get into teaching back when the economy wasn’t as good,” West said. “It became a shortcut to getting a teaching certificate.”
Problems arose as teachers entered the profession with little or no experience.
“You have people who don’t have any idea what a lesson plan is, and they didn’t get any hands-on experience with student teaching,” said Adam Cummings, athletic director and head football coach at Sundown, a Class 2A school near Lubbock. “Their hands-on training starts when they start their first day as a teacher.”
Many who have obtained their ACP are also coaches, but they eventually become overwhelmed with the work of getting an additional certificate, learning a new profession and coaching a team.
“I’ve seen coaches that were teaching three classes that are going to be STAAR tested, and they’re coaching two or three sports. There’s so much pressure, they get out of coaching,” Eddie Hesseltine, head football coach and athletic coordinator at 5A Corpus Christi King, told the Times.
“I’ve seen coaches break down. I’ve seen them crying in their classroom. They just drown. It’s sad because a lot of them want to coach.
“We lose them in the first year or two,” Hesseltine said. “If we can keep them through two or three years, they’re going to make it.”
The THSCA’s mentoring program is aimed at helping new coaches make it through their first few years and stay in coaching. The mentoring program will be launched in March 2020 with 20 first- through fifth-year coaches being mentored by veteran superintendents, athletic directors and coaches for one year.