I received an email from a coach who I’ve worked with for a few months now as he is preparing for a head coach gig. When he shared with me about his experience with a school during the last month, I thought that it would make good educational reading for the rest of us.
I speak with coaches nationwide regarding the job search process as part of my consulting business.
I hope you learn some things here about the process of becoming a head football coach! Obviously, I’m leaving the coach’s name and the name of the school where he interviewed out of this. Heck, we even agreed to keep the state out of it.
I wanted to share my recent experience interviewing for a varsity head coach position with a school in the south.
A little background: I have been a varsity assistant coach for eight years and recently gained my teaching certificate with a social studies endorsement. A few weeks back I was contacted by this school about a social studies and head varsity coaching position.
Needless to say, I was extremely excited. After a phone and online interview, I was invited to come visit the school and meet with administration. Since I live in the Northwest, it would be a significant investment to drive 13+ hours each way but I eagerly agreed anyway. (Worth noting: the school would not reimburse me for travel expenses.)
When I arrived at the school I met with the superintendent, athletic director, and principal (whom I first interviewed with). It wasn’t until this face to face visit that I learned more information about the position.
First, resources and finances were extremely limited. I knew ahead of time that this was a small school but I was informed that the budget for the program was less than $1,200.
Next, I was told that there were three members of my staff who were teachers in the building. I was required to keep them on as varsity coaches because their coaching salary was tied to their teaching contract. Essentially, they were going to be varsity coaches as long as they felt like it.
Finally, I was told that there were three non-teachers who would required to be on staff because “They are strong community members and it would be smart for the program.”
Like many assistants, I have always wanted to be a varsity head coach. With that said, everything about this position just felt wrong and I eventually told them no. Many reading this may think I’m crazy for doing so but I went with my gut feeling and truly do not regret it.
If nothing else, I gained valuable experience and learned valuable lessons:
1. Ask questions. Coach Fore has posted numerous articles about questions to ask before taking over a program. I asked many of those questions but was either given a non-answer (“Let us get back with you on that”) or found their answer unsatisfactory.
2. Know how much control you’ll have over staff. I was told by more than one of my coaching friends that no staff control is a kiss of death.
3. Trust your gut. If everything inside of you is telling you not to take a job, then don’t. Once I was able to remove myself from the fantasy of running my own program, I was that the reality was pretty scary.
I don’t know if I’ll ever receive another opportunity to run my own program. But in the event I do, it will be when it feels right.
Coach (Name left off intentionally!)