Guest Commentary: The importance of high school coaches

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Extracurricular activities are an important part of many high school students' lives. Many students hope extracurricular activities will earn them a college scholarship. However, these activities serve a much greater purpose. Extracurricular activities provide students a chance to learn many valuable life lessons such as teamwork, leadership and integrity. Many students spend several hours after school involved in extracurricular activities, which is why coaches play such an important role in their players' lives.

Coaching high school athletics is difficult. Oftentimes, a coach is judged solely on wins and losses. Many people do not see the impact coaches have on our students' lives beyond the field, ice or court. Our coaches are in a direct position to teach our students many life lessons that will prepare them for college and life. The skills and lessons learned from coaches will help players become better parents, spouses and people. Many players look back and remember their coaches and these life lessons for the rest of their lives.

We have outstanding coaches in Cloquet. Every one of our coaches has a passion for their sport. If they didn't, they would not spend the incredible amount of hours coaching requires. When not at practice or games, many coaches spend countless hours watching film. If not watching their own team, they are most likely watching college and professional games in the sport they coach. Many people do not realize or appreciate the amount of hours our coaches put in outside of practice. Our coaches put in this time because they are competitive and want each player to improve his or her skills. However, our coaches also understand there is a far greater purpose to athletics than wins and losses. Helping their athletes become better students, people and citizens is a much greater accomplishment than any amount of wins.

Our coaches are highly qualified. Many of our coaches have participated in athletics at a level beyond high school. Some of our head coaches have taken college courses in coaching methodology and first aid. Other head coaches have gone through a head coach certification program offered through the Minnesota State High School League. This program provides head coaches instruction in transformational coaching, athletic injuries and league rules. All of our head coaches and assistant coaches must complete continuing education requirements every three years for the Minnesota State High School League. The training includes topics such as rules interpretation, concussion education, emergency action plans and rules meetings. Additionally, many of our coaches attend coaching clinics throughout the year to find ways to make themselves a better coach. These clinics not only provide opportunities to learn different strategies, but include topics such as weight training, talent evaluation and team building.

Finally, our coaches in Cloquet truly care about their players' development as both athletes and people. They want each and every one of their athletes to have a positive experience. Obviously, there are instances where an athlete leaves with a poor experience. This is unfortunate, but can occur for a variety of reasons. Playing time issues, poor relationships with teammates, or the simple fact that some athletes would prefer to spend their time elsewhere are a few reasons why an athlete may not have a positive experience. However, in my opinion, the number of athletes claiming a poor experience is minimal compared to the amount of athletes in Cloquet leaving with a positive experience.