A teacher shortage means there’s a coaches shortage.

I’m from a very sports-minded family. Growing up, my dad played baseball and our summer vacations often centered around going to Kansas City or St. Louis for Royals or Cardinals baseball games. When I was six years old, I joined a swim team and continued to compete until I graduated high school. In my first two years of college, I played on the softball team.

We want you to coach
For all my time in athletics nothing prepared me for the moment I was told, “We want you to be the head volleyball coach.” It was only my second teaching job – I was headed to Spencer, Nebraska. I’d played intramural volleyball in high school but I’d acquired no technique or strategy.

The volleyball season began in August and, clearly, I had work to do! I set high expectations for myself—being from a sports-minded family the last thing I wanted to do was to look stupid. Fortunately, I learned about the Nebraska Coaches Association (NCA). I joined immediately and, within a few weeks, I was in Lincoln attending my first Coaches Clinic. Sessions covering the basic fundamentals of volleyball were being taught by some of the best Nebraska coaches of their time. Attending the clinic gave me the confidence I needed to get through those first years as head volleyball coach.

I got very lucky with the players I had at Spencer. I hadn’t been a volleyball coach long when our team made it to districts. We ended up being rated in our class that year. It was a huge accomplishment, and it never would have been possible without NCA.

Times have changed
In my previous role as NSEA Director of Advocacy, I’ve seen firsthand how times have changed for coaches. I’ve worked with members who have come to NSEA for help. Whether it was a parent who felt their child wasn’t playing enough or a community of unhappy fans lodging criticisms to a local school board, complaints against coaches can have serious consequences for career educators. It has shown me the need for educators who coach to belong to both associations. The support NSEA and NCA offers its members is unmatched, I know this from my own experience but also from members who have benefited from their dual memberships. I recently met with NCA Executive Director Darin Boysen. He shared a concern among NCA members: A teacher shortage means there is also a coaches shortage. Ultimately, the ones who lose the most in both scenarios are students. Without enough teachers, classroom sizes grow, workloads become unmanageable, and students pay the price. Without enough coaches, programs are cut. For students who can’t afford to participate in club teams it means missing out on invaluable team-based learning.  

We’re in this together
The Nebraska Coaches Association made me a better coach. In turn, coaching provided me with new ways to connect with students and made me a better teacher. The NCA and NSEA are committed to a common goal and that is to our students and to public education. As Darin said to me, “Now, more than ever, we need everybody in the education world supporting each other.” I am pleased with the renewed commitment between our respective associations. This partnership will continue to evolve and NSEA will work to update our members on the ongoing efforts to strengthen our coalition of support for teachers and coaches.