Mentoring Program Addresses HS Coach Attrition in Texas

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Twenty percent of young coaches leave the industry in their first five years, according to the Texas High School Coaches Association,  which has come up with a plan to stem that trend.

As reported by CBS affiliate KBTX in Bryan, the THSCA has created the ROCK mentoring program, which utilizes local resources and veteran coaches to help shape young coaches.

As a former athletic director and head football coach, current THSCA assistant executive director Glen West told KBTX that he's experienced the coaching turnover first hand.

“It was happening at a large rate and at times I felt helpless on how we could save them,” said West. “We always felt like if we could just get them through the first year or the second year then they would be able to stay in the profession.”

Texas is one of the few states to require coaches to be full-time staff of the school district, which West believes is a benefit.

But it may come with some drawbacks, too. THSCA executive director Joe Martin says the manner in which coaches are getting certified to teach is one of the main causes for their ultimately leaving.

"The [Texas Education Agency's] alternative certification process is a quicker way to get there, but once they get to the point where they can enter the classroom and start teaching and coaching, then they get overwhelmed,” Martin told KBTX.

In the past, many coaches would go through student teaching before obtaining their certificate, which avoided this issue, according to West. “Now in most universities, almost all of our teachers and coaches don’t go through student teaching,” he said.

The ROCK mentoring program focuses on cultivating and pairing young coaches from all sports with a mentor, who is an experienced coach in their perspective sport.

“We don’t want them to get frustrated,” said former Bryan High School athletic director and head football coach Marty Criswell, a mentor in the program. “We want to invest in them.”

The Texas A&M Thornton-McFerrin Coaching Academy provided the curriculum that the program is based on.

“You can do what you can do as far as gaining experience for yourself, but there is more to it than that, and that’s what we think through at The Coaching Academy and the programming that we do,” academy director John Thornton told KBTX. “We can enhance their ability to handle all the stresses and trials and tribulations of being a great coach and a great teacher.”

The THSCA is currently looking for more veteran coaches to get involved with the mentoring program.

“There is just so many great young people out there, and we need to invest in them and get some leaders in the pipeline for the future," Criswell said. "All the mentors, we’ve got a lot more coaching behind us than we do in front of us. If we can help them get off to a great start then they can really make a difference throughout their career and the lives of kids.”

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