Finding coaches is getting tougher for Garfield County high school athletic programs

Glenwood Springs Football’s Blake Nieslanik (15) celebrates with a coach after saving an interception in the team’s November 5 home win against Battle Mountain.
Rich Allen/Glenwood Springs Post Independent File Photo

Coal Ridge High School athletic director Ben Kirk was faced with a tough decision after no one really applied for the job. The girls’ head golf coach, Joseph Bledsoe, resigned in 2021, and any potential replacement could not devote enough time to after-school tutoring.

“I had to call these girls and tell them you can do Rifle,” he said.

Like most high school athletic programs across the country right now, Garfield County athletic directors are seeing fewer applicants for open coaching positions.

Kirk said that five years ago vacancies were filled in just days. Now it’s like nobody wants it, he says.

Not only is Coal Ridge currently looking for a girls’ golf coach, but its college football program is looking for a defensive coordinator, while the school’s weight room is also looking for a part-time coach. full.

“Finding qualified people who are already invested in the community is the hardest part,” Kirk said.

No one became an American high school track coach to make money. The love of the sport and its life lessons are still there, but the paycheck is in the equation, said Rifle High School athletic director Chris Bomba.

The Garfield School District Re-2, which has 4,700 students, currently pays 10% of the coaches’ base salary. Jobs posted online offer between $3,320 and $4,151 per year.

Rifle High School has expected openings for head football coaches and an assistant head coach position, Bomba said.

“We have many jobs that have been open for months,” he said.

Newly hired Glenwood Springs High School head football coach Tory Jensen is currently asking for more volunteer coaches. Prior to taking over from former head coach Patrick Engle, the Demons’ 65-man roster was overseen by five coaches – despite having 11 coaches listed on online sports hub MaxPreps.

Although in May alone, Jensen said he has at least 80 students signed up to play the Demons fall 2022 season. The former Roaring Fork High School coach had 12-13 coaches for a roster of 60.

Jensen is trying to bring that number back, he said.

“I don’t like children who stay there. I want everyone moving,” Jensen said. “The more coaches we have, the more I can get guys to do more reps and not just sit there, hang around, watch other guys do reps.”

Jensen also said it was difficult to convince people with full-time jobs to coach high school football after work.

“Everyone is working really hard right now because there’s so much work available,” he said. “Having guys who can commit full time is super tough.”

Ideally, Jensen wants enough coaches out by the start of spring camp, scheduled for May 31.

“Over the next three weeks, I want guys to realize that football is a fun game and something worth spending time on,” Jensen said. “Football is tough, and it’s not for everyone. But I think for those who buy into it, they become better people for it.

For Bomba, recruiting and retaining high school coaches is the difference between a booming sport or simply waning.

“Worst-case scenario,” Bomba said, “we don’t have the sport.”

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