|Written by Brian Bergner|
|Wednesday, 15 February 2012 00:00|
It’s tough to be an assistant coach.
The head coach usually gets all the glory, or all the blame in some cases, and he or she is likely the one who decides what goes where, who does what and how long they do it.
An assistant coach’s recognition comes from the head coach most of the time. Many outsiders, and many players for that matter, don’t have a clue what an assistant coach goes through on a daily basis within an athletic program in order to keep things afloat.
A good head coach delegates the responsibilities of the program, and the strongest programs have assistant coaches who will do anything for the team.
In the Verde Valley every year, there are nearly 50 head coaches at the high school level holding the keys to the athletic community, with another 50 at the middle school level. That doesn’t count the youth sports like Little League, youth football, grasshopper basketball, and many others.
For every head coach, there’s an assistant in the background, quietly doing his or her job, calculating his or her opponents’ next move, taking stats, setting up gymnasiums, lining the baseball field, making sure players are where they are supposed to be and countless other responsibilities.
The late college basketball coach John Wooden once said, “The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.” Assistant coaches fall into this category. Coaches are a team, just like players are a team. When everyone works together, good things happen.
Juan Carlos Aguilar, the assistant coach for the boys soccer team at Sedona Red Rock High School, played soccer professionally when he was a teenager for Bolivia, his home country.
Aguilar works under second-year Sedona Head Coach Cindy Hauserman, and he says being an assistant coach has its challenges and its rewards.
“I think my experience is the biggest thing I bring to the table with my career as a player when I was younger,” Aguilar said. “I’m enjoying my time with the boys, I help them prepare for games, and I help with stats, and overall, I’m just here to help the kids.”
Aguilar is one of the head coaches involved in the Verde Valley Club Soccer program, so he knows what it’s like to be a head coach as well as an assistant coach.
Craig Mai, one of the current assistant boys basketball coaches at Mingus Union High School, he’s been a head coach and an assistant too, and he likes the challenges both settings offer.
“When you’re the head coach, you set the direction. This is the way you want things done, and this is how your assistants will do them. When you’re the assistant coach, you take direction, you follow, and you make sure to do things the way the head coach wants them,” Mai said.
Mai went on to say taking care of the little things like putting the balls away, making sure the team has the correct uniforms on the bus, or making sure the bus is going to arrive on time are just a few duties of an assistant coach.
“Having been a head coach before I know all the little things that the head coach shouldn’t be worried about. He should be worried about getting ready for the next opponent and planning strategy, planning practice, and doing other things necessary to be successful. My job is to do the little things that nobody really knows about,” Mai said.
On a day-to-day basis, assistant coaches make sure the roster is correct with name spellings, jersey numbers and grade in school. They make sure film equipment is ready to go and team managers are doing what they are supposed to be doing. They complete scouting reports, get game film on opponents and communicate with parents or faculty members on upcoming events.
There are many assistant coaches who have their own teams to worry about as well, because at the high school level, most assistant coaches are the junior varsity or freshman coaches in their chosen sport.
“It’s definitely a challenge to practice plan, get a junior varsity team ready for competition, then once the game is over, you have to refocus your attention on the varsity team and making sure your duties as an assistant coach are being done,” Sedona boys basketball assistant coach Duane Edwards said.
Edwards is the junior varsity head coach as well as the varsity assistant for the Scorpions.
At Camp Verde High School, Amy Wall is the girls basketball assistant coach for the Cowboys under Head Coach Mark Showers, her father.
Wall discussed building relationships with the players as one of the more important things an assistant coach can do, because sometimes, the head coach has to make a tough decision, and the player may not like that decision.
“Sometimes the head coach is hard on a player, and it’s my job to be soft,” Wall said. “What I like the best about being the assistant coach is building relationships with the players. I keep them accountable for their actions and make sure they are doing what they are supposed to.”
Wall graduated from Camp Verde in 2005 after playing for her father for four years. She eventually moved on to play for San Diego Christian College and Arizona Christian College before taking a job as an assistant coach at Scottsdale Community Christian Academy in Phoenix.
Wall returned to the Verde Valley last year, and she believes one of the biggest factors in being an assistant coach is to make sure to be behind the head coach 100 percent of the time.
“I’ve seen where the assistant coaches don’t believe in what the head coach does, and that’s never good for the players. No matter if you agree with the head coach or not, your job as an assistant is to be on board with the head coach in every way,” Wall said.
For all that assistant coaches do for their respective sports programs, they deserve more than a pat on the back from a head coach and maybe a few parents now and again.
“It’s a tough job, but I love it,” Wall said.
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