First create a successful athletic program. But

  First off, I would like to say, that it is anhonor to be the appointed Athletic Director here at Hillside College. I am gratefulfor your warm welcome.  It is our goal to provide anopportunity for participation in a wide variety of student-selected activities.We believe participation in athletics is a privilege that carries with itresponsibilities to the student-athlete’s family, the school, the team, the HillsideCollege and the students themselves. Hillside College will uphold thecommitment to excellence in athletics which implies Hillside Athletic Departmentwill provide exemplary leadership, appropriate facilities and support servicesto allow its student-athletes to compete at the highest level ofinterscholastic competition and to reach their educational and athleticprogress objectives. There are some things that I have been aware of and withpatience and determination our department will become stronger and embody awinning spirit. I have recently been told by a few of the assistants AD’s thatour department has been dealing with retaining personnel.

This is common. I amnot surprise by the slightest, and here is why. Throughout my years as an athleticdirector and even and assistant AD, I have seen and heard of this issue. I haveseen the causes and effects of the “what next” mentality that some personnelhave. Personally, I am all for bettering yourself and career.

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However, I wantto create the working environment that keeps my staff eager to come to work andembittering the department The missionof the Hillside College is to graduate people of uncommon integrity,competence and maturity who are effective lifelong learners and responsiblecitizens, and who are prepared to contribute substantially to the world inwhich they live. To this end, the college promotes the development of skills,knowledge, personal qualities and a worldview that characterizes awell-educated person. All components of the living and learning environment at HillsideCollege are designed and intended to support this mission. There are manybuilding blocks used to create a successful athletic program. But each programis different, so not all blocks look and feel the same. If there is one commonthread to any successful athletic program, it is the quality of the personnel staff.The athletic department is the lifeblood of what makes a program thrive.

Theyare on the front lines. In a people business, they are ones most closely linkedto the clientele because they are the ones actually teaching the fundamentals,developing the game plans, fostering the relationships, educating forcharacter, administering the paperwork and handling the parents. If the personnel perform at a high level,then your program will maximize its potential. Your program is only as good asthe staff members who help run it, so your attraction, procurement and retentionof the highest quality individuals are of the utmost importance (Lough, 2008).Furthermore, Hillside College of California Departmentof Intercollegiate Athletics recognizes a commitment to serve both itsstudent-athletes and the College. Its primary commitment is to provide anopportunity for student-athletes to fully develop their academic and athleticpotential.

Through practice, training and competition, the department strivesto instill in each student-athlete: •Good sportsmanship and personal integrity. •Loyalty to the group and the ability tofunction with others as a team. •Appreciation for the benefits of hard work,motivation and perseverance in both winning and losing situations. •Pride in accomplishments gained throughfair and honest means. A strong athletic program does much togenerate pride and enthusiasm in students, alumni, the College as a whole, andthe community which the College serves.

The public relations, goodwill andservice provided by a strong athletic program benefit The Hillside College inways which cannot be measured in strictly economic terms. Through its athleticprogram, the College’s accomplishments and academic goals are made known to thepublic. Based upon this philosophy and with ongoing support from the Presidentand the College Athletic Committee, the following values, mission statement,vision statement and strategic goals have been established (Solutions, 2017).  Thesechanges, that I plan to make, will take a few required steps follow. One of themost important is any new personnel we plan to bring in must adopt the Hillsideway of thinking.  To ultimately be allin.

Though hiring high quality personnel can be seen as a challenge, retainingthem over a long period of time is an even taller task. Over time, more andmore challenges have been piled on to a coach’s job description. Their day-to-dayresponsibilities and professional requirements have become ever increasing;their “seasons” have become close to, if not fully, yearround; and parental and community expectations and scrutiny have bubbled to afever pitch (Lough,2008).Compounded with forces working against them, such as limited program fundingand competition from outside organizations, what was once intended to be apart-time job has now become every bit of a full-time endeavor. Since we knowcoaches are our most valuable commodities, the athletic administrator has to beincredibly mindful of methods to retain them over time.

There are obviousreasons why some coaches and other personnel stay, and they are usuallyidentical to the reasons why they entered the profession to begin with: thelove of the sport, and the satisfaction they get through their relationshipswith their athletes (Ary,1995).Yet, for some coaches, the downsides outweigh the upsides, ultimately movingthem toward the exit.Through the years, I have been fortunateenough to retain a hardworking, talented and dedicated core of coaches.Sixty-five percent of the personnel staff have been with me for five years orlonger. Most of the success of our program can be attributed to their loyalty,longevity and consistently high performance. There are a few strategies, I believe, havebeen helpful in keeping them involved and retained. Buildingstrong relationships with the athletic department at Hillside College. Oneof the ways you can achieve this is through frequent informal meetings.

Coacheswho manage teams with low participation numbers tennis, golf, baseball generallyhave little to no help from assistant coaches. In these cases, they may bedevoid of a support system of adults. Little to no daily dialogue with anotheradult close to his or her team to process issues and talking points can makethe different personnel feel like they are on an island. There is nothinglonelier than walking off the field all by yourself past an entire parent groupafter a tough loss. It is important for coaches, as well as my staff, to know theyhave a support system, especially with their direct supervisor as a part of it.A good way to stay connected with coaches so they feel your support is throughweekly informal meetings. Find a convenient day and time each week when both ofyou are available for a casual “drop-inmeeting”where you can ask questions, share observations, offer praise, discussstruggles, help talk through problems and, most importantly, listen.

Thesemeetings can be held during a plan period, lunch or on the phone. By buildingbonds through these informal meetings, personnel understand that yourrelationship is not about “youand I,” but rather”we.”Having that built-in support system can makethe coaches’ and personnel overall experience better, and it may keep themaround longer (2005).

Embracinga greater purpose is what I want for my personnel at Hillside College. Everyonelikes to be a part of a winning team. Building your program as if it were ateam workingtoward a common goal helps all members of the staff feel like they are asuccessful part of the bigger program, regardless of wins.

Interscholasticathletics are a platform for coaches to teach life lessons through sport. Emphasizethis idea by creating an athletic department mission statement that encompassesplayer safety, character development, academic success, life lessons andleadership skills. Implement programs that support coaches in materializingthese outcomes. When the department goals are clearly focused on educationalathletics, it provides coaches with an environment of great purpose beyond winsand losses.

Sometimes this can be the difference between them staying andgoing.  For my personnel and coaches at Hillside College, attimes, the betterment of the department and the athletes is the only domains theyhave exclusive control over. The sooner I understand and respect this as an athleticdirector, the more comfortable the coach or personnel feels to do the job tothe best of his or her ability. This requires a higher amount of front-end workfrom me, the athletic director, to carefully attract, vet and hire a coach youfeel has the skills to do the job required. It also requires the relinquishmentof control to understand this, though the coach may do things in a differentway, it does not necessarily mean it is the wrong way (Ary, 1996). Allow coaches to run their program theway they would like to run it, as long as it fits within the framework of theoverall department vision, policies and procedures. They will appreciate yourprofessional respect, and this may be another reason for them to continue torule their domain in your program. A better alleviation the workload is potentiallyneeded.

Though your to-do list may be endless, you’re not alone. Coaches and personnel oftenhave an unmanageable task list that can only be done when they are available.Athletic directors need to remember our daily schedules, though perhaps busier,may be less bound by required time blocks such as professional meetings,teaching class or coaching practices. Therefore, for some staff, the best wayyou can support them is by using some of your non-restricted time to make theirday-to-day task list shorter. There are multiple ways you can do this. Oneway is to create efficient systems that minimize extra work for the staff. Forexample, create and manage a gym or field schedule so staff do not have tospend their time haggling with other personnel for space-time slots. Anotheridea is to centralize your student-athlete paperwork.

Rather than each coachmanaging their own database of physical forms, you can collect paperwork andcreate a database that all staff can access. Facilitating practice and gameset-up through a third-party student managers or custodial staff also cangreatly reduce the staffs daily stress, opening up time they can spend workingwith student-athletes, rather than being bogged down by a mounting list ofperipheral items. More time spent doing the things they love increases personnel’slongevity. I believe implementing an appreciation program for my current andfuture staff may put a stop to the turnover rate as well as better retention.

Find ways to show your staff, personally and publically, that you appreciatethem. Many staff members are not in the profession for the attention and thepraise, but it certainly helps them feel satisfied when they know theirtireless efforts are recognized. Ihave created a staff appreciation program. After five years of service, I havea plaque made for the coach with a candid photo of him or her in action. I alsodo this at 10 and 20 years. I present the plaque to the coach at the preseasonparents meeting, along with a speech praising their work and commitment to ourprogram.

It is also a good idea to create a revenue stream exclusively fordiscretionary items for staff members such as polo shirts, sweatshirts andjackets. Since many staff members may not feel the appreciation from allstakeholders, constant appreciation from their athletic director may be enoughto keep them coming back. I would be lying if I said there are not particular personnelpositions that are a revolving door for all athletic directors. Everyadministrator has their cross to bear in terms of particular sports, difficultto fill with effective staff members, meaning those sports struggle to findconsistency for the program. Yet, many times, that is because of factorsoutside our control.

In spite of this, as an athletic director, I need tounderstand and appreciate the idea that quality staff are the catalyst ofprogram success, and employing strategies to retain them will keep theirprograms strong well into the future. Ask anyathletic director what makes their program so special, and most will talk aboutthe personnel of the athletic department. They are the ones on the groundfloor, working day in and day out with the student-athletes. That is why it canbe so devastating for a department when there is constant turnover, providinglittle continuity and consistency within the programs. One of the biggest challengesfacing my position as an athletic director is hiring and retaining ourpersonnel who have long-term plans for their respective teams (Anderson, 2002).Sometimes it’s the salary, other times it’s the job, but regardless of thereasons, athletic administrators are searching for ways to keep staff membersfrom fleeing their schools.

There is avariety of factors pushing staff members out the door, but that do not meanathletic directors are helpless when it comes to slowing turnover. It all starts during the interview, and asking the rightquestions can shed some light on a coach’s future ambitions. Maybe they plan touse your athletic program as a stepping stone to something bigger, or perhaps theyare rooted in the community and want nothing more than to grow their team intoone of the best in the state.

That is why it makes sense to ask my personnelabout their philosophies and where they plan to go with their careers. That does not mean athletic administrators should hiresomeone with great ambitions. Those are often the coachesand staff that are most determined to do the best job, and that can create asolid foundation for the future of the program. The thought is that assistantcoaches should one day be in a position to run a program of their own.

Few things are more frustrating for coaches than having adepartment or supervisor that does not support what they are doing. At the sametime, they seldom want constant oversight that gives the impression they arenot trusted to do their own jobs. There must be a balance. Coaches are morelikely to stay with your program if they feel the school is invested,supportive and encouraging of what they are doing.

They also want to know whenthings go awry — parents go on the attack orfans become overly critical — as the athletic director, it myduty to have their backs. Being the firstperson to step up and provide encouragement for a coach who hits a rough patch,whether it is on or off the field. Coaches are more inclined to fight forathletic directors who are willing to fight for them. Support for personnelmust be more than communicated (Anderson,D.  2002). And if they feel like theyare respected and valued in your athletic program, it will make it much harderfor them to leave for another job, or leave the athletic profession alltogether. HillsideCollege is known for having one of California’s top athletic programs,yet when coaches are asked what they enjoy most about being here, theirresponse is related to the culture — not the championships.

Theydo not feel they are held to a win-or-get-fired standard, which allows them tofocus on other aspects of the job, like developing positive character andteamwork. To the problem there will always be a solution. Progressively, hereat Hillside College, we will development a type of environment that shows signsof a department that exceeds expectations out of supervisors and personnel in alllevels. Overall, creating a stronger athletic department and becoming more notablein our division and conference who shows innovation in athletics with winningspirits.



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