Osceola County (Fla.) implements coaching education for all coaches—faculty and non-faculty

Author: ASEP Marketing

04/07/2014

Today’s athletic directors are looking for coaches who can handle off-field issues as effectively as those on the field. So is the viewpoint of Ryan Adams, athletic director, Osceola (Fla.) County School District. Having coaches who are well-rounded and knowledgeable beyond simply the Xs and Os of the sport they coach is, according to Adams, the main reason why his district implemented a professional development program that requires all coaches—faculty and non-faculty—to complete a coaching education curriculum addressing general coaching principles, sport first aid, and advanced sport-specific technical and tactical skill instruction.

The new coaching education requirement took effect July 1 of last year, calling for all newly hired coaches in Osceola County, regardless of their academic achievements, to complete the Florida Department of Education Coaching Endorsement. Coaches must complete three courses—Coaching Principles, Sport First Aid, and a sport-specific course—by June 30 of their third year of coaching (June 30 is also the date that three-year temporary coaching certificates expire). Coaches must also be CPR certified.

Implementing the program meant collaborating with and gaining buy-in from a number of decision makers—all whom felt strongly about the need for a comprehensive professional development program for their coaches. Adams was able to secure the support of his leadership team, which included the district superintendent, four assistant superintendents, principals at the high school, middle school, and elementary school, and other administrators in the county in advancing the requirement.

What has been the response from coaches so far? Adams reports veteran coaches who have taken the courses have offered positive feedback on their content and value. He has also heard from coaches concerned about having to pay for training or who have coached somewhere else and are now being asked to obtain certification. “My response in these cases is pretty simple,” says Adams. “Coaches should never stop growing, seeking knowledge, and improving as teachers and coaches.” In his eyes, first aid and CPR/AED training are life-saving skills that everyone should have—especially coaches—so that’s a no brainer. And as for the cost, Adams sees it as a very small outlay relative to coaches’ stipends, especially considering the cost is spread out over three years (no course is more than $70).

Adams is putting his money where his mouth is. “I believe in the training so much that I am also obtaining the endorsement,” says Adams. “It is a fantastic program which I started taking back in 2000 when I was coaching in New Hampshire. I’m looking forward to adding this credential to my résumé.”

Adams had the privilege of working under some outstanding head coaches and mentors—Paul Hogan and Will Sanborn—while serving as assistant coach at two New England colleges. “They never stop learning and are always seeking ways to improve, which is why I believe the wins and losses take care of themselves—when everything else is done correctly.”

Adams has high praise for coaches in his district and is confident they will embrace the new coaching education program. “We have awesome coaches in Osceola County with résumés and recognitions that any coach would love to have. This new requirement is a growth opportunity with positive benefits that outweigh any negative. We strive to provide the best for our student-athletes, and this is just one step in the process of teaching young men and women life-long skills that they will take with them forever and hopefully pass along to someone else in the future.”