This is the third part of a four part series about 5 Non X and O Training Camp Outcomes.
The third thing that your football program should get out of Training Camp is Admin support.
3 TIPS TO GET ALONG GREAT WITH YOUR ATHLETIC DIRECTOR
1. Communication, communication, communication
The most important thing that you can do in order to get along great with your Athletic Director is to communicate!
Most Athletic Directors are very busy. They are either teachers who have a small window every day to get their athletic duties done, or they are administrators who have vice principal duties nagging at their time all day. Do your best to answer their emails and phone calls right away.
Most of the time an Athletic Director is trying to reach you, it is very important and it is time sensitive. So, communicate in a timely fashion with your AD to stay in his good graces.
I once had to have an answer about a trip that a team wanted to take, an overnight trip out of the area. There was one question on a form that the head coach didn’t answer. Well, I got that form about five minutes before our administrative meeting where this trip would need to be approved, to go on the board meeting agenda that very night. If not on the board meeting agenda for final approval (they approved all overnight trips), the team would not be going on this trip because there wasn’t another board meeting before the trip date.
First area the head coach messed up there, he failed to turn the form in to me in a timely fashion for me to review it and clear up any questions I might have had.
So, that was poor written communication right there.
I returned his email with the trip request about three minutes after he sent it saying “Call me right away on this trip request.” Then, about a minute later, five minutes before my admin meeting, I called him and said “We have to talk about this field trip, call me back ASAP coach.” Then, I texted him my question about the information I needed.
I didn’t hear back from the coach for about three hours.
The meeting was only two and a half hours. We couldn’t get the admin approval during that meeting to get it on the board meeting agenda. That is just one example of very poor communication from a head coach – poor written and poor verbal communication.
The first tip to Get Along Great With your AD: C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-E
2. Understand the BIGGER picture
Your program is only one of many, many programs on campus.
I’m not just talking about athletics; I’m talking about the choir program, and wood shop program, and performing arts program, and the band program and the ASB. I have worked with coaches who think that there program is the ONLY one on campus that matters.
And I’ve been guilty of that myself before I became an Athletic Director, when I was a Head Football Coach. MY program was the MOST important one on campus!
Your AD is being pulled in a LOT of different directions!
One way you can get along well with him is by understanding your program is one of many on campus. Sometimes, his hands are tied, and he simply cannot help you with your request because there is a conflict with the glee club. The vice principal overseeing that club is fighting for her group just like your AD is fighting for you.
But sometimes he has to lose battles, and sometimes administrators over him make decisions that negatively impact YOUR program in order to help another one. What you need to realize when this happens is that your program is just a small piece of the pie. Remember that, and help your AD out by understanding that, and not being a pain in his rear about something that didn’t work out in your favor for the sake of another program.
Remember this about his or her time as well. Although you might have time in your day to drop by his office just to hang out before your practice begins, he might have forty five things to do that afternoon.
Remembering the big picture will help you to help your AD.
Let’s say you are a Fall sport coach. Can you help your AD out at a few basketball games during the winter? Or maybe run the clock at some baseball or softball games in the Spring? You have no idea how just volunteering a few hours out of season to support your AD accomplish his BIG picture job will do for your relationship.
The Third Tip
Listen, your AD is always going to want to have your back, especially if he hired you.
You running your program the right way, and being responsible is going to make him or her look good. Just like anybody else, an AD wants to look good to his superiors, and he wants to keep the “problems” off the principal’s desk as much as possible.
Remember, if the principal didn’t hire you, he won’t be as invested IN you as the AD is. You’re “just a coach” and very replaceable in the eyes of a principal. Keep the principal’s inbox clear of any complaints about YOUR program. That goes for other administrators too.
Head Coach Justin Reber of Saddleback Valley Christian, San Juan Capistrano, CA.
I was in a meeting about something very minor that one of my head coaches did; it was with my Vice Principal and the Asst Superintendent. The Asst. Sup said “Let’s just find another coach.” Of course, that person had absolutely NO CLUE what that process is like, or what that will do to a team in the middle of the season. Luckily, we talked that person off the ledge. Many administrators don’t have a clue what it takes to be a coach, manage a team, much less an Athletic Department. You want to keep as MANY issues out of their office and off their radar as possible.
Be a responsible coach, and this will go a long way with your AD. He has got to be able to trust you.
Here are some tangible ways YOU can be a more responsible Coach:
Turn the lights off in the gym.
Keep the batting cages locked up when you aren’t there.
Make sure your football players aren’t getting changed out by their cars in front of the whole school.
Finish practice when your calendar says practice will end.
Don’t let kids practice that aren’t cleared to practice.
Put teaching in front of winning.
Do not lose personal checks for practice gear.
Remember to thank the school board in your banquet speech.
Clean up the trash under your benches.
Don’t forget your catcher’s gear at the rivals school.
Follow transportation guidelines.
Stop letting coaches who aren’t cleared yet around the kids.
Don’t be a thorn in the side of your Athletic Director! Source: USA Today
And yes, every single one of these become headaches to your AD. In fact, they are some issues I’ve dealt with just over the last couple of years! They can all be resolved by Head Coaches who are more responsible for your program.
Your AD doesn’t want to micromanage your program. He doesn’t want to be called in to his boss’ office because you aren’t being responsible in how you run your program. Just do your job, be a responsible coach, this is another great way to stay on “the good side” of your AD.
Chris Fore is a veteran high school football coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He earned his Masters’ degree in Athletic Administration, and is a Certified Athletic Administrator with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators’ Association. Follow @coachfore on Twitter. Please visit www.eightlaces.org to see the various athletic manuals he has published.