Coaches deliver on, off the field
Spend enough time around high school coaches, and you’ll wonder why in the world they do what they do.
College coaches get to focus all of their time on their particular sports, while most high school coaches are teaching classes and grading papers — and the pay isn’t even close.
“If any coach were to add up the hours that they put into a day — getting a field ready, getting the kids ready for a game, going to bus class so that they can drive the bus — all of these different facets beyond just the coaching arena of what they have to do with those kids,” Carrington athletics director Candace Odell said. “If they divided that into the amount of money that they make, no one would do it.”
If you think it’s hard for high school coaches, it’s worse at the middle school level — like Carrington.
“We don’t make as much money as a high school coach,” Odell said.
The annual stipends for, say, DPS middle school tennis and golf coaches is roughly $800 to $2,000, according to DPS athletics director Larry McDonald. Head football coaches in middle schools earn $2,000 to $3,000 per year to lead teams, McDonald said.
A DPS high school tennis coach gets a stipend ranging between $1,100 to $2,300, while the pay for a head football coach on the high school level is from $3,400 to $8,300.
All of the aforementioned salaries are based on a particular coaches’ years of experience, team size, the intensity and complexity of the sports, as well as the competitive demand for coaches, McDonald said.
“There is a scale that moves you up by years of experience, but we have been frozen with pay since teachers haven’t gotten a pay raise,” Odell said. “So I guess we are going on five years now with no increase in pay. We continue to gain experience years, like teachers, but the pay is frozen.”
Yet the athletics at Carrington is all of that, particularly its baseball and softball teams that haven’t lost games in years.
Odell said Carrington’s student-athletes are in study hall every afternoon when their sports are in season, and as important a playbook is, the coaches make sure their players’ progress reports contain all the right reads.
Which is not to give short shrift to what happens on the fields, because the coaches at Carrington are serious about winning.
“They do it because they love the sport, and they love to be able to share their knowledge,” Odell said. “And to have the kids have the right kind of knowledge and expertise and just the skill so that when we do send them to Northern or Riverside, they have prepared athletes when they come to them.”
“We place a great deal of emphasis on academics and hold our athletes to a higher standard than maybe even some other schools,” Carrington principal Holly Emanuel said. “I can think of two teams offhand that had 90 percent of the players (as) honor roll students.”
Baseball is regarded as a thinking-man’s game. Carrington baseball coach Chris Wagner, who teaches physical education, said his guys, who just turned in another undefeated season, have a lot going on upstairs.
“Carl Fowler is probably the smartest kid in the school,” Wagner said about his center fielder. “We actually had more 100s on our report cards than Cs.”
So obviously it’s not about paying teachers more money in order to get better results — not that there’s anything wrong with pay raises for teachers.
“His rapport with kids is amazing,” Odell said, explaining Wagner’s effectiveness as a coach. “He is always making those connections with those guys, and it really, truly shines through all that they do on and off the field.”
The school system is getting its money’s worth out of Odell, too. Besides being Carrington’s athletics director, she is an assistant coach for the track team, helps out with the football team and also is the school’s fine-arts team leader and band director.
Once upon a time, Odell coached tennis at Carrington and was an assistant coach for the Cougars’ wrestling and softball teams.
That’s putting in the work.
“(It’s all) the things we do to make sure our sports programs run effectively,” Odell said.
You may contact John McCann at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-419-6601.