The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

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The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

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Coachless but not Hopeless

Reasons Why SBHS is Experiencing a Coaching Shortage
Saarah Juman-Welch
SBHS senior Casey Carlson shows what being a captain is all about while she discusses the Lady Bulldogs plan to defeat the Mustangs with her coach, Marc Vargas.

SBHS former girls soccer coach Kylie Cerra remembers when she decided to quit coaching. It was halfway through the 2022-2023 girls soccer season and she was looking forward to having her free time back. 

“ [The stipend] was very low. Not worth the long hours, in my opinion,” said Cerra. 

She decided to end her three year career as a girls soccer and girls JV volleyball coach after the time commitment became too much to handle. 

Finding people to coach high school sports teams is difficult, and becoming more so. SBHS Athletic Director Lee “Boomer” Bray believes Florida schools are experiencing a coaching shortage. In SBHS, this school year alone, sports team had seven new coaches. That number is likely to increase.

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“In the perfect world I would love to have stability where a coach is there all four years, at least,” said Boomer. “Like I said, those days are dwindling.”

In Broward County, the annual budget for high school head coaches’ stipends is $1.1267 million, according to The Palm Beach Post.

“Our coaches need to be compensated more,” said Daniel Foganholi, a Broward County School Board member representing District 1. “If you look at comparison to other states, and how much they are paying their coaches, it explains why we lose talent on the coaching level.”

Many coaches across Florida are leaving their jobs and moving to states like Georgia, South Carolina, and even as far as Texas to receive better compensation. According to a 2019 First Coast News report, at a minimum, 44 high school football coaches are earning a six-figure salary in Georgia.

“Pay hasn’t changed. But if you go to Publix, a tomato has changed,” said Boomer. “We lost our head basketball coach this year. He’s going to Georgia. He has to get compensated better.”

Although lack of compensation is a problem, so too is the time demanded from coaches. After working eight hours in one job, coaches are expected to spend two plus hours in practice or traveling to and from a game. Marc Vargas, who has been working as SBHS’s girls and boys volleyball coach for seven years, believes that the time demanded from coaches is too much.

“For the amount of time we put into our craft, I do not think it’s worth it from a financial aspect,” said Vargas. 

Considering the time demand and lack of fair compensation, coaching high school sports is not like other jobs; coaches work for other reasons, besides for pay. Many coaches have played the sports they are coaching in high school and work for the love of the sport, rather than any financial gain. 

“The reason I have stayed on for so long is because I truly love the sport and teaching young men and women how to become better at their sport and teach them values that will carry on into their future,” said Vargas.

Another reason why SBHS is experiencing a coaching shortage is the migration of coaches to club teams which can pay over $30 an hour. The allure of better pay has caused many young coaches to consider working at clubs rather than in schools. 

“Until we raise the compensation in the state, we’re going to lose coaches every year to the club organizations,” said Boomer. 

Due to a lack of coaching staff, sports teams across the county are experiencing a constant change in coaches. For example, the SBHS Water Polo team has had three coaches over the past three years, which caused some players to feel unprepared in the pool.

“Every coach said something different and had a different view and played a different position,” said SBHS Water Polo Captain, Joel Cea. “They all had something different to say and I definitely got confused.”

Aside from providing consistent feedback and guidance, long-time coaches also seem to improve team morale and performance. For example, the boys volleyball team has had the same coach for seven years, and has won districts for the past nine years. 

“You build a connection with your coach and it makes the team better because the coach knows what you’re capable of and what you need to do to get better,” said SBHS boys volleyball team captain, Ben Aguerre. “There’s more of a relationship there than if you have a new coach every year.”

On the other hand, some players enjoy having the multiple perspectives that various coaches can provide. 

“I feel like having different coaches we had different perspectives and they all had their different coaching styles and different things that they emphasized in the sport,” said SBHS girls water polo team captain, Pia La Salvia

For some players who can’t afford to play club outside of the high school season, having a coach is crucial to their ability to play a sport at all. 

“It’s important that there are coaches,” said SBHS junior Bella Melicio, who is co-captain of the girls soccer team. “For me, who can’t afford club, this could be my only chance to get involved and if you don’t have a coach you can’t really play.”

Another important aspect of coaching is the mental guidance that they provide outside of the pool or field. The connections between coaches and players can be life long, allowing players to build character.

“You know they’re instrumental in kids’ lives,” said Boomer. “It’s not just footballs, and basketballs, and water polo balls and running fast, it’s life skills. It’s so important.”

This story was originally published on Bulldog Bark on May 17, 2024.