The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

January 19, 2012

I have always coached because I loved the game's place

Coach A. B. Whitley

TARBORO — Coaching high school football has been a passion for me since I graduated from Northern Nash in 1967. That fall Coach Worthington allowed me to come back and help with the junior varsity and varsity linemen. In the 40-plus years since, fall has usually found me on a high school football field as a volunteer or paid coaching staff member.

Although the game has changed in many ways over the years, the basics have remained the same. The most notable change has been the players and, especially, the parents. I have always coached because I loved the game's place in teaching young men how to prepare themselves for life in the adult world. By playing football, they learn to respect authority, play by the rules, deal with success and failure, be part of a team, cooperate with teammates they may not like, work for supervisors (coaches) they may not like, and support each other when adverse things happen. These lessons all result in skills and habits needed to succeed in the adult world they are about to enter.

The coaches of today, more than ever, become a father figure for many of these young men. If you are a parent, look at your child's coach and ask yourself if this man is the type of person you would want as your child's father figure. These facts put today's coaches and many school districts in an increasingly tough position. In our world where no one wants to accept responsibility for their actions, parents push for their children to win at all cost and will not allow their child (all of whom are the best athlete on the team) to be disciplined. This puts coaches in an unbelievably stressful position. Every move they make is questioned by someone ? player, parent, administrator, or fan. The results are that is harder and harder to find people who are willing to coach high school athletics.

This is especially true when you look at the compensation they receive. Today's football coaches in a regular 10-game season, beginning August 1 and ending November 1, put in a minimum of 30 hours per week, or 390 hour per season. Assistant coaches in Edgecombe County earn a maximum salary of $2034 or $4.88/hour for the season. Assistant coaches in Nash, Wilson, and Pitt Counties, however, earn $3700 or $9.50/hour.

Playing in the state championship extends the season five more weeks. Roughly half a season. For these five weeks that require at least five more hours of preparation per game, Edgecombe County pays a total of $130 or $.074/hour while surrounding counties pay over $75 per playoff game. You can add about a one-third increase of this amount for head coaches. This level of compensation for a seven-day-a-week job that restricts your family and free time every day is why it is so hard to find an keep good coaches. Many western North Carolina counties double and triple these figures.

These facts should make it clear that coaching football in our area is not done for the money. The payment for the playoff weeks did not even pay for my gas to to to practice and the games. The coaches with whom I coach at Tarboro High School do not coach for the money/ they coach for the community, the players, and the love of the game.

If you are a resident of Edgecombe County and a football fan, please don't think badly of coaches who relocate to other areas. You should be grateful they have stayed as long as they have. And remember, they have families to support just like you.

Coach, A.B. Whitley

Tarboro High School