Coaching is more than a job

Published 8:56 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It’s very easy to forget coaches are not doing their real day jobs when they are coaching, especially when they are coaching popular high school sports for successful teams that go on to state tournaments and other big competitions.

But for the most part, coaches are actually teachers first and foremost. And even among the few coaches who aren’t teachers, the small stipend they are paid to lead a team is clearly not the incentive to give up the time and energy that are required of coaches.

Consider this, for example: Folks in the stands love how you’re coaching when the team’s up by two points, one run, a goal or a touchdown. Then, when the opponent comes back and wins in overtime or extra innings, the tide changes and suddenly the coach hasn’t done anything right all season.


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Technically, a high school coach is not a volunteer. But are they really paid enough to have those types of headaches, though, never mind the nightmare of deciding what kids should be in the starting lineup?

That said, many of Suffolk’s coaches — like Maurice Fofana, King’s Fork’s girls varsity basketball coach, and Clint Wright, Nansemond-Suffolk’s boys varsity basketball coach, for example — also volunteer to coach in non-school leagues during other parts of the season.

I happened into Fofana and Wright at an AAU basketball event in Hampton Friday night. I knew a few Suffolk squads were playing that evening, but didn’t know who was coaching. Given the last few games or tournaments I’ve run around to, the examples easily could’ve pertained to baseball, softball, track, field hockey or other sports.

To be clear, volunteering actually means losing money in gas, travel and other expenses. But the headaches of coaching remain.

Given the growing link between AAU basketball and college recruiting, in some ways today, AAU basketball is the real season compared to the old idea of doing it for your school colors.

The volunteer coaches, however, keep coaching beyond the school season because they have increased opportunities to become.

But none of the benefits and lessons a coach can provide — whether those lessons pertain to scoreboards, scholarships or helping kids grow up —happens without coaches who are willing and motivated to do their job, even when it’s not their first job, or second job.