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  First off, I would like to say, that it is an
honor to be the appointed Athletic Director here at Hillside College. I am grateful
for your warm welcome.  It is our goal to provide an
opportunity for participation in a wide variety of student-selected activities.

We believe participation in athletics is a privilege that carries with it
responsibilities to the student-athlete’s family, the school, the team, the Hillside
College and the students themselves. Hillside College will uphold the
commitment to excellence in athletics which implies Hillside Athletic Department
will provide exemplary leadership, appropriate facilities and support services
to allow its student-athletes to compete at the highest level of
interscholastic competition and to reach their educational and athletic
progress objectives. There are some things that I have been aware of and with
patience and determination our department will become stronger and embody a
winning spirit. I have recently been told by a few of the assistants AD’s that
our department has been dealing with retaining personnel. This is common. I am
not surprise by the slightest, and here is why. Throughout my years as an athletic
director and even and assistant AD, I have seen and heard of this issue. I have
seen the causes and effects of the “what next” mentality that some personnel
have. Personally, I am all for bettering yourself and career. However, I want
to create the working environment that keeps my staff eager to come to work and
embittering the department

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The mission
of the Hillside College is to graduate people of uncommon integrity,
competence and maturity who are effective lifelong learners and responsible
citizens, and who are prepared to contribute substantially to the world in
which they live. To this end, the college promotes the development of skills,
knowledge, personal qualities and a worldview that characterizes a
well-educated person. All components of the living and learning environment at Hillside
College are designed and intended to support this mission. There are many
building blocks used to create a successful athletic program. But each program
is different, so not all blocks look and feel the same. If there is one common
thread to any successful athletic program, it is the quality of the personnel staff.

The athletic department is the lifeblood of what makes a program thrive. They
are on the front lines. In a people business, they are ones most closely linked
to the clientele because they are the ones actually teaching the fundamentals,
developing the game plans, fostering the relationships, educating for
character, administering the paperwork and handling the parents. If the personnel perform at a high level,
then your program will maximize its potential. Your program is only as good as
the staff members who help run it, so your attraction, procurement and retention
of the highest quality individuals are of the utmost importance (Lough, 2008).

Furthermore, Hillside College of California Department
of Intercollegiate Athletics recognizes a commitment to serve both its
student-athletes and the College. Its primary commitment is to provide an
opportunity for student-athletes to fully develop their academic and athletic
potential. Through practice, training and competition, the department strives
to instill in each student-athlete:

•Good sportsmanship and personal integrity.

•Loyalty to the group and the ability to
function with others as a team.

•Appreciation for the benefits of hard work,
motivation and perseverance in both winning and losing situations.

•Pride in accomplishments gained through
fair and honest means.

A strong athletic program does much to
generate pride and enthusiasm in students, alumni, the College as a whole, and
the community which the College serves. The public relations, goodwill and
service provided by a strong athletic program benefit The Hillside College in
ways which cannot be measured in strictly economic terms. Through its athletic
program, the College’s accomplishments and academic goals are made known to the
public. Based upon this philosophy and with ongoing support from the President
and the College Athletic Committee, the following values, mission statement,
vision statement and strategic goals have been established (Solutions, 2017).

  These
changes, that I plan to make, will take a few required steps follow. One of the
most important is any new personnel we plan to bring in must adopt the Hillside
way of thinking.  To ultimately be all
in. Though hiring high quality personnel can be seen as a challenge, retaining
them over a long period of time is an even taller task. Over time, more and
more challenges have been piled on to a coach’s job description. Their day-to-day
responsibilities and professional requirements have become ever increasing;
their “seasons” have become close to, if not fully, year
round; and parental and community expectations and scrutiny have bubbled to a
fever pitch (Lough,
2008).

Compounded with forces working against them, such as limited program funding
and competition from outside organizations, what was once intended to be a
part-time job has now become every bit of a full-time endeavor. Since we know
coaches are our most valuable commodities, the athletic administrator has to be
incredibly mindful of methods to retain them over time. There are obvious
reasons why some coaches and other personnel stay, and they are usually
identical to the reasons why they entered the profession to begin with: the
love of the sport, and the satisfaction they get through their relationships
with their athletes (Ary,
1995).

Yet, for some coaches, the downsides outweigh the upsides, ultimately moving
them toward the exit.

Through the years, I have been fortunate
enough to retain a hardworking, talented and dedicated core of coaches.

Sixty-five percent of the personnel staff have been with me for five years or
longer. Most of the success of our program can be attributed to their loyalty,
longevity and consistently high performance. There are a few strategies, I believe, have
been helpful in keeping them involved and retained. Building
strong relationships with the athletic department at Hillside College. One
of the ways you can achieve this is through frequent informal meetings. Coaches
who manage teams with low participation numbers tennis, golf, baseball generally
have little to no help from assistant coaches. In these cases, they may be
devoid of a support system of adults. Little to no daily dialogue with another
adult close to his or her team to process issues and talking points can make
the different personnel feel like they are on an island. There is nothing
lonelier than walking off the field all by yourself past an entire parent group
after a tough loss. It is important for coaches, as well as my staff, to know they
have a support system, especially with their direct supervisor as a part of it.

A good way to stay connected with coaches so they feel your support is through
weekly informal meetings. Find a convenient day and time each week when both of
you are available for a casual “drop-in
meeting”
where you can ask questions, share observations, offer praise, discuss
struggles, help talk through problems and, most importantly, listen. These
meetings can be held during a plan period, lunch or on the phone. By building
bonds through these informal meetings, personnel understand that your
relationship is not about “you
and I,” but rather
“we.”

Having that built-in support system can make
the coaches’ and personnel overall experience better, and it may keep them
around longer (2005). Embracing
a greater purpose is what I want for my personnel at Hillside College. Everyone
likes to be a part of a winning team. Building your program as if it were a
team

working
toward a common goal helps all members of the staff feel like they are a
successful part of the bigger program, regardless of wins. Interscholastic
athletics are a platform for coaches to teach life lessons through sport. Emphasize
this idea by creating an athletic department mission statement that encompasses
player safety, character development, academic success, life lessons and
leadership skills. Implement programs that support coaches in materializing
these outcomes. When the department goals are clearly focused on educational
athletics, it provides coaches with an environment of great purpose beyond wins
and losses. Sometimes this can be the difference between them staying and
going.  For my personnel and coaches at Hillside College, at
times, the betterment of the department and the athletes is the only domains they
have exclusive control over. The sooner I understand and respect this as an athletic
director, the more comfortable the coach or personnel feels to do the job to
the best of his or her ability. This requires a higher amount of front-end work
from me, the athletic director, to carefully attract, vet and hire a coach you
feel has the skills to do the job required. It also requires the relinquishment
of control to understand this, though the coach may do things in a different
way, it does not necessarily mean it is the wrong way (Ary, 1996). Allow coaches to run their program the
way they would like to run it, as long as it fits within the framework of the
overall department vision, policies and procedures. They will appreciate your
professional respect, and this may be another reason for them to continue to
rule their domain in your program. A better alleviation the workload is potentially
needed. Though your to-do list may be endless, you’re not alone. Coaches and personnel often
have an unmanageable task list that can only be done when they are available.

Athletic directors need to remember our daily schedules, though perhaps busier,
may be less bound by required time blocks such as professional meetings,
teaching class or coaching practices. Therefore, for some staff, the best way
you can support them is by using some of your non-restricted time to make their
day-to-day task list shorter.

There are multiple ways you can do this. One
way is to create efficient systems that minimize extra work for the staff. For
example, create and manage a gym or field schedule so staff do not have to
spend their time haggling with other personnel for space-time slots. Another
idea is to centralize your student-athlete paperwork. Rather than each coach
managing their own database of physical forms, you can collect paperwork and
create a database that all staff can access. Facilitating practice and game
set-up through a third-party student managers or custodial staff also can
greatly reduce the staffs daily stress, opening up time they can spend working
with student-athletes, rather than being bogged down by a mounting list of
peripheral items. More time spent doing the things they love increases personnel’s
longevity. I believe implementing an appreciation program for my current and
future staff may put a stop to the turnover rate as well as better retention.

Find ways to show your staff, personally and publically, that you appreciate
them. Many staff members are not in the profession for the attention and the
praise, but it certainly helps them feel satisfied when they know their
tireless efforts are recognized.

 I
have created a staff appreciation program. After five years of service, I have
a plaque made for the coach with a candid photo of him or her in action. I also
do this at 10 and 20 years. I present the plaque to the coach at the preseason
parents meeting, along with a speech praising their work and commitment to our
program. It is also a good idea to create a revenue stream exclusively for
discretionary items for staff members such as polo shirts, sweatshirts and
jackets. Since many staff members may not feel the appreciation from all
stakeholders, constant appreciation from their athletic director may be enough
to keep them coming back. I would be lying if I said there are not particular personnel
positions that are a revolving door for all athletic directors. Every
administrator has their cross to bear in terms of particular sports, difficult
to fill with effective staff members, meaning those sports struggle to find
consistency for the program. Yet, many times, that is because of factors
outside our control. In spite of this, as an athletic director, I need to
understand and appreciate the idea that quality staff are the catalyst of
program success, and employing strategies to retain them will keep their
programs strong well into the future. Ask any
athletic director what makes their program so special, and most will talk about
the personnel of the athletic department. They are the ones on the ground
floor, working day in and day out with the student-athletes. That is why it can
be so devastating for a department when there is constant turnover, providing
little continuity and consistency within the programs. One of the biggest challenges
facing my position as an athletic director is hiring and retaining our
personnel who have long-term plans for their respective teams (Anderson, 2002).

Sometimes it’s the salary, other times it’s the job, but regardless of the
reasons, athletic administrators are searching for ways to keep staff members
from fleeing their schools. There is a
variety of factors pushing staff members out the door, but that do not mean
athletic directors are helpless when it comes to slowing turnover. It all starts during the interview, and asking the right
questions can shed some light on a coach’s future ambitions. Maybe they plan to
use your athletic program as a stepping stone to something bigger, or perhaps they
are rooted in the community and want nothing more than to grow their team into
one of the best in the state. That is why it makes sense to ask my personnel
about their philosophies and where they plan to go with their careers. That does not mean athletic administrators should hire
someone with great ambitions.

Those are often the coaches
and staff that are most determined to do the best job, and that can create a
solid foundation for the future of the program. The thought is that assistant
coaches should one day be in a position to run a program of their own. Few things are more frustrating for coaches than having a
department or supervisor that does not support what they are doing. At the same
time, they seldom want constant oversight that gives the impression they are
not trusted to do their own jobs. There must be a balance. Coaches are more
likely to stay with your program if they feel the school is invested,
supportive and encouraging of what they are doing. They also want to know when
things go awry — parents go on the attack or
fans become overly critical — as the athletic director, it my
duty to have their backs. Being the first
person to step up and provide encouragement for a coach who hits a rough patch,
whether it is on or off the field.

 Coaches are more inclined to fight for
athletic directors who are willing to fight for them. Support for personnel
must be more than communicated (Anderson,
D.  2002). And if they feel like they
are respected and valued in your athletic program, it will make it much harder
for them to leave for another job, or leave the athletic profession all
together. Hillside
College is known for having one of California’s top athletic programs,
yet when coaches are asked what they enjoy most about being here, their
response is related to the culture — not the championships. They
do not feel they are held to a win-or-get-fired standard, which allows them to
focus on other aspects of the job, like developing positive character and
teamwork. To the problem there will always be a solution. Progressively, here
at Hillside College, we will development a type of environment that shows signs
of a department that exceeds expectations out of supervisors and personnel in all
levels. Overall, creating a stronger athletic department and becoming more notable
in our division and conference who shows innovation in athletics with winning
spirits.

 

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