New Phys-ed Teachers To Double Coaching Efforts

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Leaders' Diversity Would Be An Early Casualty

January 20, 1991|By Ed McDonough

Phil Bonnell has coached the North Carroll High softball team to several state titles.

Lee Kestler and Dave Price coached Liberty to boys and girls county soccer titles last fall.

Solomon Carr, the Westminster High wrestling coach, was a standout college competitor and came from a grappling clan so noteworthy it once was profiled in Sports Illustrated.

Stacey Stem turned around the fortunes of South Carroll's girls lacrosse and field hockey teams when she began coaching there last spring.

EdSinger has given the Liberty wrestling program the stability it's never had in the past. He's entering his third season at the school, the first time a coach has stayed on that long in Liberty's 11-year history.

These coaches have two things in common: They aren't employees of the school system, and they are known as "emergency" coaches.

They got coaching positions because nobody in the school system wanted the job. They are there because they want to work with young people. Many times they have to rearrange work and home schedules to do it.

Emergency coaches are hired on a year-to-yearbasis and start every school year with the realization that they maynot have a coaching position. State regulations require that school system personnel be given first crack at the jobs.

But the county Board of Education's plan, which requires new high school physical education teachers to coach at least two sports, could spell the end of the emergency coach in Carroll.

That may or may not be bad news. For a lot of reasons, it's clearly better to have in-school people coaching.

Those employees can be supervised more closely, and if they teach at the same school where they coach, they'll have more contact with the kids.

The school board's proposal raises two questions, though.

Is a physical-education teacher always the best choice to coach?

The answer: Maybe.

True, college physical-education majors do have to take some sports-related courses, and a disproportionate number of student-athletes seem to major in the subject.

But a good college physical-education major includes much more than just a series of "Theory of Basketball 101" listings in the college catalog. Most schools, for example, require extensive study of biology, chemistry, physiology and kinesiology, along with the standard general education requirements in English, history and math.

Just because you may be familiar with one or two sports doesn't mean you're qualified to coach any sport -- or that you'll have the desire to.

And what's so different about physical-education teachers that they have to coach two sports?

The answer to the second question: Not much.

About the biggest difference between phys-ed teachers and their counterparts in the classroom is that the former have less paper work. But physical-education teachers still have to plan lessons, conduct classes (without benefit of seating charts, desks and other tools that help keep order in traditional classrooms) and turn in grades.

More importantly, overloading athletic departments with physical-education teachers could make it difficult, down the line, for other qualified people who want to coach to find an opening.

And we're not talking about the aforementioned emergency coaches, who, admittedly, are there because the school system is in a bind. Many other excellent coaches might be shut out of coaching opportunities.

John Seaman, a math teacher at Key, has built an excellent track program. Dave Brown, a drafting teacher at Westminster, has led the Owls golf team to the brink of a state title and has a young, exciting girlsbasketball team.

John Lynam, a science teacher at North Carroll, and Bruce Demasio, a social studies teacher at Liberty, are standout tennis coaches.

Still, those folks coach and teach at the same school. And teachers in those situations always would get first crack at the jobs not filled by phys-ed teachers.

But what about people like Jim Bullock, a motor-development specialist at Robert Moton Elementary who led Key to the Class 1A boys cross countrytitle? Or Stacey Herring, a North Carroll Middle physical-education teacher who has taken the North Carroll High field hockey team to several playoffs?

And there's Suzanne Davie, an elementary school classroom teacher who coaches the Westminster girls lacrosse team.Tom Hill, a West Middle School teacher, has led Key's volleyball andgirls track teams to state title contention. Jim Peters has coached the Westminster boys lacrosse team since the early 1980s.

These people and others like them could be forced out of coaching in the future if phys-ed teachers are required to coach two sports.

And where are we going to get the future Marie Wilsons, Jim Heads,Ed Powelsons, Fred Bakers and Dick Bauerleins -- people who have spent 20 or more years as coaches and phys-ed teachers? They began theircareers coaching two or three sports, but youthful enthusiasm doesn't last forever and none coaches more than one now.

When we did our decade-in-review issue early last year, county athletic and physical education supervisor Earl Hersh said he was concerned about the lack of long-term coaches in the future.

One of the best ways to make sure we'll never see coaches with 20-year high school coaching careers is to make them coach two sports as long as they work in a high school.

Come to think of it, that's a good way to make sure we won't have any 20-year high school phys-ed teachers, either.

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