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JAGNEAUX: Coaching changes are always on the menu in Evangeline Parish

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Sports Editor Tracey Jagneaux

In the ranks of professions people under take, the profession of coaching seems to be one that mirrors a carousel; as one person takes a job in a school or parish, another one leaves.
However, in Evangeline Parish there seems to be a lot of people getting off of the ride and not very many people climbing aboard.
The most recent casualties in the coaching world of Evangeline Parish are Pine Prairie head boy’s basketball coach Chris Guillory and Mamou High girl’s basketball coach Mark Temple; both quality men and coaches that have left the parish to find jobs elsewhere.
So why is it that there seems to be a plethora of job openings here in the parish?
One main reason is pay. Now, I know that the Evangeline Parish School Board is strapped for cash and faces a huge deficit this coming year. It is sad to see that some of the dedicated paraprofessionals in the parish will have to lose their jobs because of this budget deficit.
But, the fact remains that coaches in this parish are grossly underpaid. Take for instance an assistant football coach.
An assistant football coach in Evangeline Parish makes a grand total of $1,000 a year for the job that they do. For those that do not understand that number, let me break it down for you.
A typical assistant football coach will work the entire summer in the weight room, up to four days a week, with an average of three hours a day for approximately eight weeks.
During the season, that same assistant coach will go to practice four days a week, for ten weeks (more if the playoffs are in the picture), and work an average of four hours a day. (By the way, I am low-balling that average on the hours.)
He/she will then stay after school on game days and get things ready for the upcoming game (i.e. taping, equipment details, feeding the players, etc.). Then that assistant will drive the bus to the game, coach the game and return home most of the time past 10 p.m.
He/she will then stay to wash uniforms and save the equipment, not leaving until 1 or 2 a.m. That person will return the next day (Saturday) to watch film and begin game planning for next week’s game, usually for four to five hours. Game planning will continue on Sunday as well.
After the season is complete, the assistant football coach has no other football duties until spring, but is usually assigned another sport to coach.
In the spring the football coaches will go through spring drills for on average 10 days, with an average day consuming about four hours.
Now let’s add that all up. If my math is correct, an assistant football coach will work approximately 450 hours (not counting playoffs) during a typical football season.
If you take $1,000 dollars and divided that by 450, you get $2.22 per hour. Now, tell me, would anyone work a job for $2.22 per hour? I don’t think so.
I did not go into detail about the other sports. But, know this. Up until three years ago, no assistant coaches in any other sport in the parish was paid a dime. Not one. That meant that in order for a head coach, say in basketball, to have an assistant, he had to give part of his/her salary to that assistant; or find other means to get that person paid.
Also, this may be hard to believe, but the salaries of coaches have not gone up in at least 25 years or more.
Once again, the parish school system has a tough task ahead trying to find money to address the budget problems. I get it. I am not writing this to dog the school board or administration.
The main reason that I write this column is to bring awareness to a situation close to my heart. We have the most dedicated, hard-working coaches in the state here in Evangeline Parish. The are truly devoted to their profession.
I just want people to think before they moan and complain and downgrade the coaches in this parish. These men and women are doing a superb job for such a small amount of pay and still continue to put forth the greatest of efforts.
I am proud to say that I was part of that profession and will continue to support whoever comes to this parish.
Just one man’s opinion.

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