Assistant coaches have big impacts

Kelly Klein

Coaches are the basis of every high school team, whether they organize the student-athletes’ schedules or give them a pep talk before a big game.  However, assistant coaches often go unnoticed, behind the scenes of a major sport, even if they control an entire section of the team.
Many assistant coaches simply participate for the love of the athletes and sport, despite the fact that many receive a very low pay, or none at all.
While some assistant coaches get paid the same amount as the head coaches, the lowest per season salary being $2,100 and the highest being $2,975 (with an additional $500 bonus), most are volunteers.
Robin Butten, the assistant coach for girls’ varsity tennis, said that she coaches simply for the love of the game.
“It’s very rewarding to work with a group of girls for a period of time and watch the development that occurs,” Butten said.  “It manifests not only physically but emotionally as well.”
According to Mike Dibley, an experienced assistant and head coach, assistant coaches often spend more time up close with the athletes developing their skills, while a head coach is more of an administrator, dealing with schedules and parents.
“An assistant coach’s impact is primarily to teach and develop the talent of a player,” Dibley said.  “Many times, assistant coaches are given more responsibilities than a head coach.  For example, the offensive-coordinator for football deals with teaching the entire offense of football.”
Despite this fact, all head coaches receive a higher pay than assistant coaches for that particular sport.
Diana Peterson, varsity head coach for girls’ basketball, said that she chooses to coach because she loves teaching others the game and making those connections with the players.
“It’s a family environment, really, and that’s what I love to make the most,” Peterson said.  “I coach because of the bonds that I make with the kids and seeing them progress, which really pays off at the end of the season.”
Peterson and other coaches said they choose to coach because they want to impact the athletes in the ways that their high school coaches affected them.
“I still keep in touch with my high school coach now,” said Peterson.  “I hope that I impact them not just in the gym, but in life-the way my coach did for me.”
Although assistant coaches receive a lesser pay than the head coaches, varsity head coaches for cross country, tennis, football, and basketball agreed that assistant coaches are crucial to running the team.
Michael Durant, the assistant head coach for varsity football, said he believes that his job is to make sure the players understand what the head coach tries to articulate.
“My job as an assistant coach helps the head coach execute his plan correctly,” Durant said.  “A lot of different voices in the program make sure the players are on the same page as well, and that the program is going in the right direction.”
Durant said that assistant coaches have the same impact on the student-athletes, as they have just as much contact with them every day.  He said that he believes his job is to build up their future and to be a solid role model for the athletes.