The Importance of Selecting the Right Coach
By Kenny Connolly
Teaching doesn’t stop when a student-athlete steps outside of the classroom.
Whether it’s a baseball diamond, a basketball court, a pool deck, or any of the other facilities that houses student-athletes, each should be viewed as an extension of the classroom. As such, the head coach and his or her staff are educators in their own right.
If we’re not teaching character, ethics, teamwork, and other life lessons, we need to seriously reconsider why we have athletics.
The 14 Legal Duties of Athletic Personnel were developed to educate the coaching community on the importance of their roles, duties, and day-to-day obligations. This “coaches credo” encourages coaches to work together with their athletic administration in creating a risk management plan that heightens their awareness to their legal responsibilities.
In many ways, the duty to select, train, and supervise coaches is the foundation of building a successful athletics program.
“If you hire the right people, they have the ability to serve your student-athletes for a long time, send the right messages, and be an extension of the school,” said Tom White, Founder and Director of Regional Recruiting & Alumni Relations at Concordia University Irvine’s Master’s in Coaching and Athletics Administration program.
In selecting the right candidate, athletic administrators must be as thorough as possible in vetting a candidate. In the past, areas such as supervision and transportation, for example, have often gone overlooked. The right candidate must understand that not only is the field an extension of the classroom, but so too is the locker room. If anything happens to a student-athlete in the locker room, that falls under the coach’s responsibilities. Similarly, regardless of how far a game is from campus, a coach is responsible for ensuring that all of the student-athletes arrive to and from campus safely. Making sure coaches are aware of these types of off-the-field responsibilities should be an important part of the vetting process.
“Like many professionals, 21st-century coaches and athletic leaders need ongoing training to prepare them for present and future challenges and opportunities,” White added. “There have always been requirements in regard to competencies and qualifications: for example, first aid and CPR certifications, or passing a background check. There are relatively new safety, knowledge, and professional behavior requirements. Like any good profession, there’s always a need to upgrade and update.”
On top of hiring a candidate who is up-to-date with certifications and pays attention to detail, an individual who embraces his or her role as an off-the-field role model should be seriously considered.
“If we’re not teaching character, ethics, teamwork, and other life lessons, we need to seriously reconsider why we have athletics,” White said.
3 Tips For Selecting The Right Coach
Vetting is key.
Administrators in charge of selecting a new coach must be as thorough as possible in the vetting process. As White said, “Vetting goes beyond the résumé. It goes beyond the interview. And it goes well beyond the reference they’ve chosen to provide.”
Each hire is of equal importance.
Fair or unfair, the reality is that certain sports are viewed as higher profile in the public eye. In the eyes of an administrator, though, each hire needs to be handled with the same amount of attention to detail. Each coach is a representation of the school.
Look for a coach who embodies the values of your program.
When changes need to be made, help your athletes make them; lead with your experience and your team will be better off.
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