GFPS Athletic Department Goals

I didn’t realize how tough the first post would be until I sat down in front of my computer to type this.  The best place to start?  I figure where I start with our coaches is as good a place as any.  This is the first of two posts explaining how we structure our overall athletic department.

Every fall I meet with all GFPS head coaches to pass along new information, remind them of the important old stuff, and give them some “umbrella” direction from the athletic office.  One of the things that I remind them of every year are the three department goals that I’d like them to try to accomplish with the kids.

1.  Have fun.
This is much easier said than done, but the top goal of every one of our coaches should be allowing the kids to have fun.  There are two major difficulties to meeting this goal: (1) “Fun” means different things to different kids, and (2) We still have to run a competitive high school program.

2.  Teach the kids how to compete the right way.
Teach them how to act when they win, how to act when they lose, the level of work and dedication it takes to be successful, how to balance sports with the rest of their lives, how to communicate with the various stakeholders in their athletic lives, etc. etc. etc.  Again, when you consider the number of kids in our programs who participate for very different reasons, these get to be tough lessons to teach.

3.  Teach the kids something about the sport.
This goal varies from sport to sport, but tends to be the easiest of our three goals for coaches to meet.  All of our coaches have a passion for their sport and are eager to pass their interest along to the kids.

**The one goal I don’t give to our coaches and don’t talk about during or after the season is winning games or hanging banners.  In my opinion, a successful season has nothing to do with the won-loss record when games are done for the year.  Winning is a by-product of so many different moving parts – some controllable, some uncontrollable – that I don’t place it as a priority.  That’s not to say that I don’t like winning (or, rather, really hate losing!), but I don’t use wins and losses as part of the program evaluation.

In the follow-up to this post coming later this week, I’ll discuss how we try to create balanced levels of competition (and why that structure makes the three goals above so difficult to meet).

4 Responses

  1. Jorjan Marynik

    Great goals. If fun is the number one goal, an idea would be for the athletes to evaluate the coach to see if they have actively sought to achieve this goal that is not dependent on the win/loss record.

    The results might be different then you expect. The coach may be causing emotional pain to the athlete and they are afraid to speak due to being benched or cut.

    If sports are truly for growth of the young adult, shouldn’t they have a respectful voice without fear? They shouldn’t leave high school with any scar caused by an adult and should have fun growing up being respected and being respectful.

    1. highschoolsportsstuff

      Absolutely right. We survey our athletes towards the end of the season to gather their opinions about the coaching staff. Their survey results come to me then I compile the results, remove the kids’ names, and pass that compilation on to the coaches. Those surveys results are one of the pieces I discuss with our head coaches during their end of the season meetings each year. I keep those survey results from year to year to progress/document both the students’ responses from year to year and the growth of our coaches’ abilities to relate to their athletes.

  2. Mike Carter

    After reading another post of yours, I saw the link to your 3 goals. I was curious to see if one of them might be a “no cut” type goal. With the rising sport “drop-out” rate and the over-professionalization of so many sports in the US…some could say that high school sports are a large part of the problem.

    1. highschoolsportsstuff

      Here is the link to our three athletic department goals to which you’re referring. I agree that we’re creating our own problems to some extent. I’ve written about that here and here. My previous school had a no-cut policy for freshmen. From a participation standpoint, it was great. It gave our middle school kids the knowledge that they were guaranteed one more year of participation if they wished, and it allowed kids one more year to physically mature before actually trying out for teams as a sophomore. The down side, as I wrote in that past blog, was that the additional levels put a strain on our budget, and it was difficult to find teams to play in some sports. For instance, we were able to support four freshmen volleyball teams (another school in our conference had eight team at one point), but some of the other schools we were playing only had two freshmen teams. Finding games for all of our girls was often difficult. The budget piece was another discussion; I could often use the benefits of athletic participation as the driver for the extra expense. Every district I’ve been in has been very supportive of our athletic programs (although I realize that not every AD has had the same experience with that that I have). Our high school athletic culture in North Dakota enables us to take a much more holistic view of the role of athletics in education; we (mostly) understand that we aren’t a breeding ground for DI athletes. We churn out a few D1 level athletes each year, but our population numbers alone suggest that we won’t have the year-to-year numbers of states like Texas, Florida, etc. That said, there is still the expectation from our public of a competitive product, representation of our school and community, etc. For those reasons, we can’t completely abandon competitive principles for participation, so we try to balance the two the best we can. I *hope* that I’m accomplishing that to some extent, but I get feedback from both ends. I’ll receive emails from parents who are angry that we aren’t winning enough, and I’ll receive emails from parents who are angry about a kid being cut. I just try to be comfortable enough with the message I’m sending out through our athletic department to respond honestly to all of those parents.

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