With the spring sports season approaching, the Nashua (N.H.) School District is still without several coaches. Six vacancies for the spring season need to be filled by March 23.
The New Hampshire Union Leader reports that the district’s athletic director has said if those vacancies aren’t filled by the deadline, the teams may be forced to delay the starts of their seasons.
Athletic director Lisa Gingras is seeking to fill vacancies at the district’s middle school and two high schools. Specifically, coaches are needed for girls’ varsity lacrosse and junior varsity softball at Nashua High School North, boys’ varsity tennis and JV softball at Nashua High School South, and two track coaches for the middle school.
“We have run into this in some of our other seasons, namely in the fall,” Gingras told the Union Leader, adding that she’s been able to fill previous vacancies before.
“I beg people. I knock down doors and somehow, someway, I find people to fill them at the last minute,” she said, though the last-minute hires sometimes serve more as managers or supervisors as opposed to coaches. Still, the student-athletes at least have an opportunity to play.
The looming deadline makes filling the spring sports vacancies more urgent, but there are seven additional vacancies for fall sports, including boys’ cross country, JV boys’ soccer and varsity volleyball.
According to the Union Leader, the district hires between 55 and 65 new coaches each year. The district employs 129 paid high school coaches, and 40 middle school coaches.
Gingras cited low coaching stipends as a reason for the high turnover and difficulty in finding coaches.
“Unfortunately, the coaching stipends in Nashua have not changed in at least 20 years,” Gingras told the Union Leader. “We are the lowest in our coaching stipends of surrounding communities and of our Division I schools.”
Gingras told the Board of Education that coaching candidates have laughed at her in turning her down after learning of the low stipend.
“Recruiting and retaining quality coaches is becoming increasingly more difficult,” Gingras said.
To help address the shortfall, Gingras has proposed a slight increase to the athletic department’s coaching stipend budget — suggesting a bump to $362,174 from the current level of $358,492.