A lot of people ask me, “Do you ever sleep?”
I answer, “Yeah, in July.”
Being a sports editor is virtually a round-the-clock job, especially when I try endlessly hard to cover our teams equally and fairly and to the best of my ability.
Many times, especially during football season, I get to the office at 8 a.m. and don’t leave till 10 p.m. Sometimes, like Friday nights, we’re here into the wee hours of the morning.
I don’t say that to complain. I don’t say that to whine.
I absolutely love my job. I could pour my heart out for an entire column — and I have — about how much I love this area and the coaches and our student-athletes. I am a Tallapoosa County fan through and through and Coosa too. I am not an unbiased journalist.
But I tell you about my hours because I want to illustrate a picture.
If you think those hours sound crazy, think about how many hours the coaches in our area work. Many of them are teachers so they are at school before a lot of us even wake up. They go from there to football practice then many times to film study or meetings with the rest of the coaching staff or one-on-ones with players. They each take the time to sit down with me once a week; they take the time to know the strengths and weaknesses of each of their players.
They’re there on weekends; they’re there at night.
And that’s just what they do during the school year. That doesn’t take into account how many countless hours are spent during the summer and offseason working on their teams — coming up with game plans, running drills, doing summer workouts, reviewing personnel. The list goes on and on.
And all three football coaches in the Tallapoosa County School System — Dadeville’s Richard White, Horseshoe Bend’s Jeremy Phillips and Reeltown’s Matt Johnson — are all athletic directors. They have to take care of paperwork, bus schedules, physicals for each player, submitting information to the AHSAA. It’s endless.
They deserve more pay. Period, point blank.
I read some comments on The Outlook Facebook page about the coaches not deserving more pay because “they knew what they were getting into.” That’s why I illustrated my hours to you. I knew what I was getting into, but that doesn’t make it easy to have virtually no personal time for 10 months out of the year.
I also read comments saying teachers deserve more pay, which I absolutely agree with. But just because teachers deserve more pay doesn’t mean coaches don’t.
So many of these men and women coach multiple sports. Horseshoe Bend boys basketball coach Chad Kison and baseball coach Jason Johnson are the football team’s offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively. Reeltown’s Kelli Hilyer is the softball and volleyball coach. Dadeville’s principal Chris Hand and assistant principal Pam Holloway are head coaches of track and cross country and girls basketball, respectively.
These are just a few examples of people in our schools taking on multiple roles and doing it for our kids.
And that’s the other thing. These coaches are teaching our kids — our future — much more than just how to play a sport.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Hannah Johnson, the wife of Matt Johnson, who replied to a comment on The Outlook’s post about the coaches asking for higher supplements.
Hannah wrote: “The life lessons, character building, team playing, working hard for what you get and accountability are all skills needed to be a successful contributing member of society. These skills are learned on the field. I have five sons that have a daddy that spends his life pouring in the men, fathers, business leaders and even pastors of our future. What an opportunity, but what a cost. A cost worth making.”
And a cost we should be willing to pay for.
Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor of The Herald.