Raises In Stipends For High School Coaches Is a Must Or Else NC Will Pay a Bigger Price

Whether you realize it or not, school started this past Monday, July 31st.


Many a student, many a sponsor, and many a coach went back to public school campuses to start official practices for sanctioned and unsanctioned fall sports and other worthwhile activities like marching band, cheerleading, color guard, dance teams, etc.

The list goes on and on.

If every coach actually divided his/her stipend for fulfilling his/her role by the actual number of hours spent in preparing, practicing, and community outreach, the per-hour recompense would make 1983’s minimum wage appear like the lottery.

And then you see news reports like this:

“Wake County athletic and academic coaches could find out as soon as today if planned raises will be nixed this year to help close a budget gap.

Wake school administrators had previously listed the $2.6 million in raises for extra-duty pay as among the options that the school board could use to close a $28.8 million budget gap. At Tuesday’s work session, staff will ask for the board’s feedback on what adjustments to make to the budget.

[Wake school budget cuts might delay raises for coaches, halt plans to hire counselors]

The school district has to cut $28.8 million from its $1.6 billion operating budget after getting less than what it wanted from the Wake County Board of Commissioners and to cope with changes in state funding.”

That’s from T. Keung Hui’s piece in the August 1st edition of the News & Observer entitled “Wake County athletic coaches may lose raises due to budget gap” (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/wake-ed-blog/article164628912.html).

Mr. Hui is a fantastic reporter and he knows the Wake County educational terrain like no one else.

That budget shortfall that he is referring to was catalyzed by the underfunding for public schools by the state lawmakers in the very same county (Wake/Raleigh) and local politicians. In a political climate that embraces “funding” public schools and brags about a state surplus, the fact that this is happening is egregious.

Coaching and sponsoring are not undertaken by teachers and community volunteers to make money or get rich. People do these things to give back to the school and more importantly help students. But to deny coaches and sponsors the raises needed to at least keep some sort of pace with the cost of living and expending their own resources is ludicrous.

One of the most highly revered baseball coaches in North Carolina public school history actually told me that he did the math and as a coach he made less than a dollar and hour. I never heard him complain about that, but he always tried to make sure that his assistant coaches were as well taken care of as possible. They were younger and were starting families.

Most every sports program or large extracurricular activity (like band) teaches students skills and values that cannot be measured by dollars. They also keep students out of trouble and strengthen communities.

Furthermore, one might be surprised by how much revenue sports can generate for a school program or a school system as places like Forsyth County require county schools that play each other in several sports split the gate proceeds evenly. That’s generating money for a school system. And it isn’t going into a savings account.

Furthermore, every sport usually has to do its own fundraising. Do you even want to think of how much money is needed to outfit an entire band and help secure instruments? Go ask schools, but don’t ask lawmakers who squabble over funding. They probably will not know.

Go to a successful athletics program in any traditional high school (and by successful, I do not mean wins versus losses) or a driven band program, and you will see coaches and parents and community volunteers spearheading some of the most successful fundraising efforts ever conceived. They are also making sure that students are performing in the classroom as well.

Despite what government is “helping” them do.

Yes, there are some high-profile programs that do pay coaches large supplements from booster club revenue and that is a choice made by individual schools, but it is the exception and not the norm. And that supplemental money comes through individual school fundraising.

Maybe every lawmaker in Raleigh or every county commissioner should spend time volunteering as a coach for a high school sports team or band and get some sort of idea of what it is like to keep a program running. What we see under Friday Night Lights is only a fraction of what is done for these students and communities.

Maybe also have every lawmaker be an officer in a booster club or PTSA of a local high school and see what kinds of obstacles are in place that are overcome each and every year to make things possible for school students.

I know of one particular school board member in my district who was and her understanding of how finances in schools work is more than admirable. She also happens to be a former teacher.

Then maybe there would not be “budget shortfalls” like there are today.

Or news reports like the one mentioned earlier.

Actually, School Starts In One Week

Sure. Most people here in North Carolina might think of the beginning of the school year as being closer to the end of August, but it actually begins much earlier.

Well before students will begin roaming the halls to re-acclimate themselves to a bell schedule, teachers will report to school for “pre-planning,” which is a series of days to get prepared for the new school year.

Academically that is.

If you are a coach of a fall sport, then your year officially starts much earlier – July 31st to be exact as that is the first day of practice allowed for fall sports in North Carolina.


To be exact, that means:

  • Cheerleading
  • Cross Country
  • Dance Team
  • Field Hockey
  • Football
  • Men’s Soccer
  • Volleyball
  • Women’s Golf
  • Women’s Tennis
  • and the activity that has the longest season – Band.

Many actual games will be played before the first day of school and while that may seem a little odd to some people, it is quite necessary because of the school calendar placed in motion by the state and the county system.

If you follow the banter that surrounds public schools, many believe that teachers have this extended summer “off” to do anything they may want. But get to know a coach for any high school sport who tries to help build exceptional teams and you will probably meet someone who spends quite a bit of time in summer getting teams prepared. That includes all of the camps, workouts, and fundraisers that almost all teams (fall, winter, and spring) and activities must do to have the necessary funds just to function.

Because the state sure isn’t helping with its emphasis on less spending. Just look at the “Pay to Play” systems being used in some school systems to help with costs (http://www.journalnow.com/sports/pay-to-play-system-not-being-considered-in-forsyth-davie/article_6671d31c-747c-54b1-b95f-5030f480c6f1.html).


  • Athletic fields don’t magically stayed manicured.
  • Equipment doesn’t magically come ready to be used.
  • Papers and eligibility forms don’t magically complete and file themselves.
  • The weather doesn’t magically cooperate.

Yet there are a lot of good people who “work” in the summers who are ten-month employees on paper, but they will allow school to start in August with a sense of cohesiveness and purpose.


Because the stands will be filled before the classrooms will.

Drink plenty of water and go to the games. School starts in a week.





Let Us Praise Great Coaches

Let us praise great high school coaches.

If you teach long enough in the public schools, you will be fortunate enough to come across some great individuals who coach sports teams all the while teaching these very players lessons of life and success even in the wake of defeat.

Yes, there are instances when coaches and teachers have done terrible things. People like Dennis Hastert and Jerry Sandusky remind us that no profession is immune from violating the innocent. There are cops, doctors, lawyers, lawmakers, professional athletes, etc. who have committed injustices.

But there are cops, doctors, lawyers, lawmakers, professional athletes, and others who are deserving of our praise and respect not just because of what they do professionally, but how they perform their duties.

And I want to praise great coaches, especially the ones I work with.

When winning seems to be the only criteria by which many measure the success of a team, a great coach understands that winning is much more than a final score. That “W” in the “Win” column is the culmination of a process by which young people are pushed, nurtured, taught, challenged, and built. That same process is the part rarely seen in the media or by the fans.

In a world where statistics are obsessed over by not only fans and players, but also parents and scouts, great coaches see that as secondary to the chemistry of the team. When people squabble over playing time and egos, great coaches see that team is more important than one individual.

When a team wins, great coaches give the players credit. When a team loses, great coaches look at themselves as the first to be accountable and find ways to help the team reflect on those losses. Why? It’s part of the process.

Great coaches see the team as more powerful than the sum of its parts put together because building a community where a common goal drives the participants is part of that process of being successful. Great coaches praise players in public, encourage loudly, and practice discipline and leave constructive criticism behind closed doors in locker rooms, practice, and dugouts.

Great coaches care about their players as students. It is quite often how I tell people who do not teach that so many players perform better academically while in season than out of season. The time management and the added incentive to keep playing helps many students make the needed commitment to academics and family.

Great coaches have probably kept so many students out of trouble because when spending time being mentored and coached negates opportunities to create conflict.

Let us not forget that most of these great coaches are teachers in the same schools where they coach. They take care of our students in so many ways. And if they were actually paid an actual living wage for the time they spent preparing players, mowing fields, cleaning courts, talking to media and parents, and other unseen duties, they would be walking home with a much larger paycheck.

If you want to witness what the effect that a great coach can have on a school and its surrounding community, then go to the games, see the support, watch the passion of the players, and see the pride of the student sections.

And pay for the ticket. Any money made from a high school athletic contest goes straight back into an investment in our kids.