HIRING COACHES: One of the best parts of being an Athletic Director

HIRING COACHES: ONE OF THE BEST PARTS OF BEING AN ATHLETIC DIRECTOR

One of the topics I get asked a lot about from visitors to my blog, in fact three coaches just this past week, is about the hiring process.  “What are you looking for in a head coach, from your perspective as an AD?”   Or “What kind of advice can you give me about finding a football job?’  So, I’ve decided to write this mini-series on this exact topic: how I go about hiring coaches, and my advice to coaches looking for a job.

I’m a “rookie” AD in many aspects.  I’ve only been in the seat for five years.  I am one of 6,000 Athletic Directors nationwide who has earned the Certified Athletic Administrator credential from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators’ Association; and I do have my Masters Degree in Athletic Administration.  I’m saying that to tell you I’ve done my homework!  Some ADs out there haven’t; they are former coaches who are filling a seat, and some of them do a great job.  Then, you have what I call “career ADs.”  These are the guys who have studied the profession, and are always looking for ways to become better leaders professionally.  I count myself in the latter category.

  I’ve hired 19 head coaches over the span of my 5 year Athletic Director career.  (This is at two different schools.)  When I took over at Capistrano Valley Christian on July 1, 2007, I immediately had to find three head coaches!  Talk about getting thrown in to the lion’s den right away!

I’ve hired head varsity coaches for the following sports: Cross Country (1), Boys Basketball (2), Girls Basketball (2), Boys Soccer (2), Girls Soccer (1), Softball (2), Cheer (2), Golf (1) and Girls Volleyball (2).  I’ve hired four head junior varsity coaches: basketball (1) and football (3).  (I’ve been a Head Football Coach for eight years, so all three JV Head Football Coach hires were when I was the Head Football Coach.)

I’ve also hired about fifteen assistant varsity and junior varsity football coaches during my eight years as a Head Football Coach.  One year, we really expanded our coaching staff, added a JV program.  I hired five coaches that season alone.  I interviewed roughly twenty candidates for those five spots.

Needless to say, I’ve done a lot of hiring in my career.  I think it’s vital to have a lot of coaches on staff.  I’m now the AD at Excelsior Charter School in Victorville.  We were lucky enough to add thirteen paid coaching spots to our entire athletic department this year.  It’s part of my vision, to have more coaches in our programs.  I’m happy that the school administration and board has bought in to that vision.  When schools rely on a lot of volunteers, and have their programs understaffed, it’s very hard to build competitive teams.

I hired all four of these coaches at Capo Valley Christian.  Among the best staffs I've ever had!  One, Noel Johnson the far left, I had to talk out of retirement to be our Defensive Coordinator. He was a former head coach I competed against. So was Matt Cobb, in the middle; a great defensive line coach who was at a rival school.  Chris Wilhelm, second from right was a former player who became one heck of a running backs coach.  CJ Del Balso, second from left is one of my greatest hires ever.  He built a nationally recognized strength program for us, coordinated my defense for a while; he is now on a coach with the US Olympic Weightlifting team.

I hired all four of these coaches at Capo Valley Christian, and we went on to win the League Championship in 2010.   Among the best staffs I’ve ever had! One, Noel Johnson the far left, I had to talk out of retirement to be our Defensive Coordinator. He was a former head coach I competed against. So was Matt Cobb, in the middle; a great defensive line coach who was at a rival school. Chris Wilhelm, second from right was a former player who became one heck of a running backs coach. CJ Del Balso, second from left is one of my greatest hires ever. He built a nationally recognized strength program for us, coordinated my defense for a while; he is now on a coach with the US Olympic Weightlifting team.

CASTING A WIDE NET

            In my humble opinion, there are two ways to hire a coach: the lazy way, and the right way!  Some Athletic Directors are so overworked by their schools, that they simply don’t have the time and energy to do a proper coaching search.  They simply want to find a coach, fill the seat and move forward.  It is always easy to find a coach to fill a seat.  The key thing is finding the RIGHT coach for your kids and your program.

The first step I take to try to find the RIGHT coach is to cast as wide of a net as possible.  I will usually post the job opening on five to seven internet sites and blogs.  I will put it up on the school’s Facebook account, the Twitter account, and my own Twitter account.  Social media is a great place to advertise jobs.  I like to broadcast the job to the local newspapers as well.  Sometimes they will run an ad for you, and sometimes they will not.  Always depends on the time of year, and what else is happening.

I found a tremendous soccer coach on Craigslist one year.  He had posted his resume on there, and when I searched “soccer coach” on the site, I found his resume.  Here is a guy who had college coaching experience, but was looking for a job in our certain part of the county.  He did a fine job for us.

  Casting a wide net is important because you just never know who you might find out there.  As a high school Athletic Director, I don’t have the luxury of hopping on a private jet and flying around the nation like these college Athletic Directors do!  You are mainly stuck to the local city or maybe surrounding cities where you live.  If you have ability to connect a full time teaching job, or other job on campus to your coaching position, you are more likely to find a better coach out there. Many times though, at least here in California, we are having to hire walk on coaches only.  Therefore, your hands are tied because you have to find a person who is A: an experienced coach and B: has the time to work on this sport even though they have a full time job elsewhere.  This is a very unique person you need to find.  Therefore, casting a wide net is very important!

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