Three high-profile Minnesota high school coaches have fallen by the wayside in recent weeks.
Mike Randolph's ouster at Duluth East has caused an uproar in the Twin Ports. In 15 years as head coach of the Greyhounds' boys' hockey team, Randolph guided East to two state championships and a 308-83-10 record (.787).
His removal allegedly had to do with questions about the sale of Christmas wreaths.
After 17 seasons, the contract of Orono boys' hockey coach Kevin Armstrong was not renewed. He coached the Spartans to a 26-4 record and a third-place finish in this year's Class 1A state tournament.
Eleven days after the state tournament, Armstrong was informed he was out. Parental pressure reportedly played a role in his dismissal.
On Monday, Pat Guyer resigned after 13 seasons as coach of the Greenway boys' hockey team. Guyer said he would be lying if he said pressure didn't figure into his decision.
Job performance doesn't ensure job security in coaching. High school coaches have one-year contracts and are not guaranteed due process hearings to answer critics.
Bruce Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota State Hockey Coaches Association, believes legislation should be introduced to protect coaches. He contends that coaches who have met acceptable standards over a period of time should be given the same type of tenure as teachers. Johnson says there would still be a process by which tenured coaches could be removed but it would follow a set of guidelines.
In the meantime, there isn't much recourse coaches have from enduring an ordeal to remove them. But tools do exist to help coaches persevere with the environment that exists in high school athletics today.
One tool may be enrolling in the "Achieving Peak Performance" continuing education class offered by the University of St. Thomas. In its second year, it will be taught by Brainerd High School and Central Lakes College coach Lowell Scearcy. The class will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 7-12 at BHS.
The course addresses issues like:
* Dealing with irate parents.
* Balancing demands of coaching with family time.
* Facilities, scheduling, fund raising, travel, rules/regulations, booster clubs, equipment.
* Dealing with athletes who believe they are not receiving enough playing time or are being treated unfairly.
* Pressure to win.
Jon Dale of Pequot Lakes and Dick Finck of Bertha-Hewitt are veteran area coaches who took last year's course. Both were grateful for the opportunity to network with other coaches and to share ideas.
Dale, 41, has coached three sports a year for 16 years.
"Overall, I think the coaches seemed to feel the class was pretty refreshing and rejuvenating," Dale said. "A class like that is needed to keep some veterans in coaching. It gets you to realize the real reasons why you are in coaching. With today's athletes and parents you kind of forget the reasons why you are coaching.
"I would highly recommend it for coaches at any level. It went by really fast, not because it was a cupcake or easy class, but because it was interesting."
Finck, 52, has been the boys' basketball coach at Bertha-Hewitt for 29 years. He has guided the Bears to one state tournament and has a 414-239 career record.
"In-season, you have tunnel vision about your sport," Finck said. "It's nice in the offseason to sit down, relax and discuss things. I think a lot of us picked up new ideas and things we can try.
"The best thing you can do is get out and listen to other coaches for expertise. It's good, as a basketball coach, to listen to hockey and wrestling coaches and that's one thing the class does. It's a great opportunity to listen to others."
Coaches may register by calling Scearcy at 829-0610 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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