Graphic illustration of Sports Section
As of Feb. 24, Lynbrook has seven job openings listed on EdJoin, and all seven of them are as coaches or assistants of sports teams. This lack of coaches has become most visible in the recent years.
The shortage has had a great impact on student sports because Lynbrook coaches play an influential role in the development and success of a team.
“I would say that our coaches are the main backbone of the team, as they keep everything organized even though the schedule conflicts or other random obstacles that come up,” said varsity swimmer Lucas Lin.
Consequently, how coaches are hired also plays an important role in shaping a sports team, as well as the entire Lynbrook Athletic Department.
At Lynbrook, applicants for coach positions must pass three steps: a written application, an interview and clearance. Applicants must first apply through a website called EdJoin, which asks for basic identifying information, the sports they are interested in coaching, employment experience and other relevant information. The school then reviews its pool of applicants and chooses candidates to be interviewed, typically by Athletic Director Jennifer Griffin and Activities Assistant Principal Brooke Chan. Principal Maria Jackson makes the final decision of whether to hire or pass, and the Human Resources Department of FUHSD confirms the choice. After being hired, the new coach must meet further requirements, which include First Aid and CPR Certification, a recent tuberculosis test and fingerprint clearance which can take up to five weeks to fulfill. All coaches meet during the preseason to receive important information from Griffin, and may also attend specific training workshops to improve coaching ability. Only after this lengthy process can they step into their role as a coach.
“All parts of the hiring process are essential,” Chan said .”As an example, we will not hire someone without reviewing an application and going through the interview. The process is not completed until all steps are followed. Therefore, there is not one step that is more important than the other.“
In recent years, Lynbrook has had trouble finding coaches for their sports teams, with a low number of applicants but a high number of open positions available. Sports such as volleyball, swimming and field hockey have been particularly impacted.
“During the time [without a coach], everyone was really worried because tryouts were scheduled very soon, and no one knew how teams would be picked,” said volleyball player Michael Ma. “On top of that, the reminder that the gym would be closed off because of renovations to the gym entrance piled more anxiety onto everyone. During that limbo period without a coach, everyone was just super nervous for how the season would play out.”
There are a few factors that Griffin believes could be influencing the recent trend of fewer and fewer job applicants. One of the most prominent is money. Silicon Valley is known for its steadily rising cost of living, and being a coach is a time-consuming and low-paying job. Most coaches are in the business only because they truly enjoy coaching student athletes, and usually already have a nine-to-five day job, or are even teachers on campus. Coaching club sports also tends to make more money, and as club sports become more prominent, their school counterparts tend to attract less coaches.
“We lost two coaches on a Monday and then the next day on a Tuesday,” Griffin said. “They were moving out of the area because they just couldn’t afford to live here. So we have to look at those factors as well [when hiring because] when somebody coaches, they’re not coaching for the money. You don’t get paid that much for the time and energy that you put into it. You’re coaching because you love the sport and you love working with student athletes.”
One way the Athletic Department has been recruiting more coaches through is social connections. In times when there aren’t enough coaches, students and parents reach out to people they know that might be interested.
“We found [our] boys volleyball [coach] this year because parents were at a tournament and were reaching out as well,” Griffin said. “They were asking people, ‘Hey, would you be interested in coaching at high school?’ So it was actually a parent that referred our current boys [volleyball] coach.”
While the administration is hoping to find a solution to the coach shortage, some Lynbrook students are more chiefly concerned about the need for transparency in the hiring process.
“My main issue with the evaluation process for coaches is transparency,” Ma said. “I understand it is logistically impossible for us to be part of that process and select a coach that fits the team, but a simple action such as proactively reaching out to the players to inform them how finding a coach is going can go a long way. It relieves some of that stress that may be pent up on some of the players because of the hazy situation it can be.”
Griffin is not opposed to having student involvement in the process, though it would be difficult to incorporate because students do not have the authority to make the final decision. Many students want to be able to voice their opinions, but also understand that it would be difficult for them to truly have control over any part of the hiring process.
“I think that we should be able to express opinions toward certain coaches, and I do believe we should be able to express concerns and preferences, but I don’t think we need [to provide] input into the hiring part of the process,” Lin said. “While we may want one coach, some decisions are based off of things that we don’t know. So while we can have an effective voice which can influence the decision [to some degree], I don’t think we need to control parts of the process itself.”
To preserve a healthy, well-functioning Athletic Department, it is imperative that teams have coaches to support the growth of their team. Despite declining numbers in job applicants, the Lynbrook administration hopes to preserve both the quantity and quality of their sports coaches.