Coaches' ultimate reward isn't written on paycheck
Updated: 02/22/2011 07:33:15 PM EST
Some things never cease to amaze me.
At the top of that list is the ability of high schools to consistently find qualified varsity football coaches.
That point was driven home recently when two York County schools hired two new head coaches. Russ Stoner got the top job at Spring Grove, while Brian Freed will take over at York Suburban.
Stoner will earn $4,304, while Freed will be paid $7,409. The disparity in salaries is mildly surprising, especially when you consider that Stoner and Freed have fairly similar backgrounds as longtime assistant coaches.
But that's beside the point, because neither man will likely make even minimum wage ($7.25) when all their hours coaching are added up. My best guess is that the typical high school head football coach will put in more than 1,000 total hours annually.
If he doesn't, he'll almost certainly lose ground to the opposition, because you can bet that the head coach across town is doing just that.
During the season, coaches don't just show up at practices during the week and games on Friday night. There's also film to study, game plans to prepare, meetings to hold and opponents to scout. In the preseason, you have two or three practices per day, plus meetings. And in the offseason, there are 7-on-7 drills to oversee, clinics to attend and weight rooms to monitor.
Coaching high school football has truly become a year-round endeavor. And the long hours are only part of the hassle.
Football coaches lead the single-most high-profile sports program at nearly every school. No other prep athletic event can draw 5,000 or 6,000 fans on a Friday night.
As a result, coaches are under constant scrutiny from overbearing parents, loudmouth fans and micro-managing administrators -- not to mention us arrogant media types.
It makes you wonder why anyone takes the job. You can make more slinging burgers at McDonald's, and you don't have nearly as many headaches.
Still, whenever a head coaching job comes up, there's always a line of men waiting to apply.
Well, because coaching offers rewards that go far beyond the small salaries.
There's the thrill of competition and the joy of victory on a Football Friday Night, of course. There's also the love of the game. But it goes even beyond that.
Most coaches coach because they want to have a positive impact on the lives of young people.
For a coach, nothing can top the feeling when a former player says that a coach taught him lessons on the football field that will last a lifetime.
That's the ultimate reward. And it's something that can't be printed on any paycheck.
Maybe I understand why men line up to be football coaches after all.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 854-1575, ext. 455.