Developing a strong, positive and professional relationship with your athletic director and athletic department is a vital component to ensuring that you can coach effectively and successfully at your school – hopefully, for a long time to come.
Whether you are a full-time, part-time or volunteer coach, you are most likely, reporting to a school’s athletic director, athletic board or athletic department. An athletic director is an important role for schools at all levels, whether at the grammar school, high school or collegiate level, as they are responsible for scheduling, communicating, administering and upholding the school’s values and goals within the athletics program. It is very important that all coaches have a positive and open relationship with the athletic director, as it allows coaches to be successful with their respective athletic teams.
Whether as a new coach with an established athletic director, or an established coach working with a new athletic director, the first and best way for a coach to begin a strong relationship is to ensure that they have all their coaching requirements completed. Every school has certain requirements needed to teach and coach, and coaches are required to complete them before they begin to be able to coach. Usually, coaches are required to have get background checked, fingerprinted, concussion trained, CPR trained, and a list of other requirements depending on the school or district. Coaches should get these done at their earliest convenience to ensure their compliance and to be able to begin coaching as soon as possible.
While athletic directors are not always coaches (sometimes they are), they do like to know what is going on with each of their teams. Be communicative and provide updates to your athletic director, keeping him/her up-to-date with everything that is going on, to ensure that the athletic department is informed and guided. If there is ever a dispute or conflict within your team, be sure to get his/her input and guidance on the matter. Often, they will be able to offer support and communicative assistance in dealing with upset players, parents or even other coaches. They are very experienced in this regard, and always can offer helpful support.
As a coach of an athletic program, it is also important that you are familiar with any athletic handbooks that your school/program/district provides, as well as all league/conference rules. What is playing time policy? What is dispute process? What are the coaching expectations? Your athletic director will always have your handbook handy for you to become familiar with and to incorporate within your team. Be sure that you are following the guidelines so that you are maintaining the expectations for your school and team.
Sports is a way for teams to market their schools. They not only allow audiences to see their students interact with others, but it is also a huge marketing and advertising opportunity for the school to highlight their colors and sell their brand to the public. As a coach, you are part of that sell – so always remember that, whether in a win or a loss, you and your team are a representative of your community. Uphold that expectation to the highest standards. If you have a way or suggestion to help communicate that message, whether through uniforms, spirit wear, posters, banners, etc., offer your thoughts to your athletic director – they are one of many that is responsible for a school’s positive and impactful image.
Most importantly, remember to enjoy the experiences while coaching and to offer thanks and support to your athletic director. They do a ton of work behind the scenes that often goes unnoticed. They schedule practice and gym time, they organize your game schedule, they maintain your uniforms, make sure the gym/facility is up-to- date and playable, and they try and offer the best possible sports experience for their players, coaches, families and community. Do your best to fulfill his/her expectations within the athletic program and to enjoy the experience along the way.
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