State High School Sports Governing Group Sends Coaches Back To Class

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Arizona’s high school coaches have yet another hoop to jump through now that the Arizona Interscholastic Association has mandated all pass a “Fundamentals of Coaching” class before the start of the 2009-10 season.

The order has met with mixed reaction around the state with many athletic directors concerned the additional demands and expense may chase off some coaches.

“Especially in the rural areas where it is already tough enough to find accredited coaches,” said PHS athletic director Jason Lobik.

“It’s more money ($35 course fee) out of coaches’ pockets.”

The coaching class mandate applies to all head and assistant coaches, whether paid or volunteers.

New coaches must take the class within 45 days after hire date.

Lobik says he has taken the course and found it covered basic fundamental information, knowledge that most veteran coaches should know and understand.

PHS head boys basketball coach Kenny Hayes contends the new class could be appropriate for new coaches but not for veterans.

“Maybe it should be grandfathered in and those with a certain amount of experience not be forced to take it,” he said.

“But for new coaches, it’s a good way to ensure they understand good, basic fundamentals of coaching.”

Under the AIA guidelines, coaches may take the class completely online or a blended approach.

Using the blended approach, the first two chapters are presented by a teacher in a classroom setting. The remainder of the course is completed by the coach online.

Currently, 44-member state associations have adopted Fundamentals of Coaching as a coach education requirement.

AIA officials estimate more than 35,000 coaches have signed up for the class, which was authored by former Arizona State University professor Darren Treasure.

He argued in a November 2008 edition of High School Today that “when one considers the legal and liability issues related to interscholastic athletics, it becomes clear that coach education is not a luxury or something a school, school district or state can choose to ignore.”

There are some coaches around the state who believe the new class is the result of recent arrests of coaches for inappropriate contact with student-athletes.

While the class curriculum covers many issues, it also focuses on professional coach-to-student/athlete relationships.

Among the about six arrests this year of coaches in Arizona, are sexual conduct with a minor charges against Apache Junction coaches Eugene Beck and Reanna L. Jewell.

However, both were part time coaches and neither was a certified teacher.

AIA officials estimate that about half of the state’s high school coaches are part time or volunteer.

Statistics seem to prove that many of the violations of the coach and student professional relationship are with part time or volunteer coaches.

In addition to requiring the Fundamentals of Coaching class, the AIA is offering First Aid for Coaches ($45) and Engaging Effectively with Parents ($20) as electives.

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