Online Master’s in Athletic Administration

The Role Of The Coach In Successful Athletic Administration

In the arena of interscholastic athletics, coaches have a vital role.  This role encompasses much more than meets the eye.  Coaches not only impart the skills and knowledge to play a certain sport, but they are also mentors, role models, teachers, confidants, and even friends.  Coaches have responsibilities not only to the students under their supervision, but also to parents, the school, and the community.  Any parent or student, as well as anyone considering a career as a coach in interscholastic athletics should understand the role of the coach in this arena.

MCE Basketball coach

Interscholastic Athletics:  The Purpose

When defining the role of the coach in school sports, it is important to take a step back and remember the purpose of interscholastic athletics to begin with.  Many parents, students, and even athletic administrators soon forget that these programs are not created with the purpose of winning championships in mind.  The interscholastic sports program should be a part of the school districts complete education program.  If the priority is solely on winning championships in sports, the school and its district is failing in its mission.  Students involved in sports are more productive members of society on a whole.  The goal of an interscholastic sports program is to get students involved and to help them be well-rounded upon graduation and entering college or the workforce.  Coaches are key when it comes to helping students realize there is more to sports than winning every game.  Valuable life lessons are lost when too much emphasis is placed on winning.  Winning and losing is a big part of the total educational experience.


Goals and Expectations

Each school, in addition to the district, and coach should have set expectations and measurable objectives in place in regard to the interscholastic sports program.  Athletics provide many values that cannot be taught inside the four walls of a classroom.  Values such as teamwork, dedication, commitment, loyalty, fairness, trustworthiness, doing your best, sportsmanship, and responsibility can be acquired through sports.  Many coaches do not necessarily place these values in their lesson or coaching plans, but they are intrinsic to playing school sports.  They key ingredient to students acquiring and maintaining such values, is a coach who models these values in their own coaching style and life.  In addition, coaches should expect nothing less from their athletes.


The Role of the Athletic Director

While most parents and student athletes think about the coach or the assistant coach when it comes to role models and authority figures in the sports arena, the athletic director is also of vital importance.  The job of an athletic director is a yearlong duty.  During the summer athletic directors are responsible for ensuring that all areas where student athletes play, practice, or prepare are safe and in good overall condition. This includes showers, locker rooms, practice equipment, gyms, fields, and weight rooms.  Throughout the year, if a coach notices anything not up to par, or something that puts the safety of other athletes at risk, he or she should report it to the athletic director.  The athletic director is responsible for fixing whatever problem exists.

The athletic director also prepares the interscholastic sports budget, to include such line items as equipment, officials, security, transportation or bussing, jerseys, etc.  If fundraisers are needed to pay for the sports programs, as is common this day in age, the athletic director is in charge.  However, he or she may ask for the input or opinion of coaches on all of the aforementioned budget tasks.


The Team of Two

The coach and the athletic director should work closely together to ensure the athletic program for the coach’s particular sport is running smoothly.  Problems or concerns should be taken to the athletic director for further review and action.  The athletic director should also provide feedback to the coach on what he or she could be doing better, what is working and what is not, as well as the direction and goals of the athletic program.  Preferably, this relationship is an open and working one.  Coaches are responsible for keeping up with their certifications, such as CPR or AED, coaching permit and concussion certificate.  Athletic directors are responsible for making sure the coaches stay up to date with such things, and document it correctly.  Athletic directors should also hold an annual meeting prior to the start of the school year in order to review the athletic policies of the school and the district.  This is a good review for everyone and can help bring any potential problems to light.  Scheduling of the gym and practice fields can also be done at this time.  The athletic director is also responsible for making sure that the school district is compliant with Title-9 Laws and Sports Equity Laws.


Additional Duties

In a pinch, it is not uncommon for an athletic director to step in and get their hands dirty by mopping floors or bagging leaves in the fall. They also often show up at games to fill roles as bookkeeper or security.  Sometimes, they are truly a Jack-of-all-trades.  Athletic directors can also step in, in the event of a miscommunication with parents and coaches, or students and coaches.


Coach’s Role

Coaches are more the hands and feet to the students within an athletic program.  They do daily life with their athletes and are in the frontlines.  Any problems or issues should be brought to the attention of the athletic director.  Not doing so can lead to greater consequences and compromise player’s safety.

Athletic director and coaches both play an indispensable role in successful sports programs.  They work separately and together to help the school district craft well-rounded, responsible young adults.




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