A questionable career choice

Pitching with Pritch

If I could write a letter to me back when I was freshman in high school, I often wonder if I would have taken the same road I did. 

I knew at 17 when I graduated from high school I wanted to coach and teach because my high school coaches had a tremen-dous influence on my life. 

A couple of coaches at Fort Hays also influenced my life and helped me continue on the road to a teaching degree and coaching career. But neither my high school or college coaches filled me in on some of the little things that make up the big picture. Then again I didn’t ask about little things as I was only interested in the big picture.

After 38 years in education, and 33 in coaching, there were a number of things that didn’t get discussed a whole lot. That probably wasn’t all bad either. 

One of the things I knew going into the profession was I wasn’t going to get rich doing it. But I also didn’t realize the pay would never reach minimum wage status either. 

Some of that maybe was my fault because I chose to put in the number of hours I did because I was sure that was the only way I was going to be successful. If you look at it, coaching in high school, unless you are a football coach in Texas, makes no economic sense. At one time when I figured my hours and wage, I was making less than $2 an hour, but it never influenced the hours I put into the job. 

The thing my old high school and college coaches never told me about were the things I would be doing that have nothing to do with X’s and O’s, offense or defense or things related to the sport I might be coaching. 

If I had just concentrated on those non-coaching items I am sure I would have started to question why I was coaching sports in the first place. Why would you want to put yourself up for the constant judgement by so many who should not be in position to judge? 

The hardest part of coaching is often having to deal with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Trying to explain to a parent you are not killing their 5-9, slow son’s chances of playing at a Division 1 level or the NBA. Then you have the parent who coached that same 5-9 kid as a sixth grader (already 5-9 at the time) and they won a tournament in Imperial and now the parent can’t understand why the boy isn’t All-World. 

I think part of the game is worse now than when I was coaching. I am not sure kids have changed all that much but something has changed that makes coaching more difficult. 

I still think I had a better handle on what our kids could and couldn’t do well and better reasons. For example, why we played a certain defense or offense. In going to clinics and talking with other high school coaches and not being afraid to pick up the phone and call a Roy Williams, Bob Knight or Greg McDermott, I picked up a number of ideas and didn’t have to learn by trial and error as much. 

Sometimes your five most talented players don’t always make your best starting five. Sometimes it is smart to slow the game down and make your opponent guard longer and have a defense break down. Go to clinics and if you just pick up one or two things that help you during the season, it was a heck of a clinic regardless of who spoke.

I am not trying to be real negative here, but talk to a coach and you will find, if they have been in the game very long, most of these things they have dealt with in their program. 

So if it is so bad, would you do it again? You better believe it!

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