Climbing the Coaching Career Ladder
In this past week alone, I have had 3 coaches ask me about changing coaching positions and moving up to another school (this isn’t really as much of a coincidence as it sounds – it is the time of year rowing coach positions become available and I am always around rowing coaches).
In one instance, the coach had an offer on the table and in the 2 others, the coaches had heard about jobs that would be promotions for them and were interested but uncertain for a number of reasons. In all instances, the issues were similar. I will address the 3 main issues each coach is grappling with in one way or another. Whether or not I have solutions is another story…
1. Leaving the athletes.
This is a very difficult part of leaving a team – for everyone. Inherent to coaching, is the relationship developed with your athletes. While I am very certain the process will be painful, as a coach looking to move up the coaching ranks, it is often not possible to stay with the same team, program, or school. In most cases, coaches need to be mobile and willing to take a position elsewhere. It is critically important to note that this is part of the process. Your athletes may not know this, though, and individual meetings are highly recommended with each of your athletes to discuss why you have made this decision. They need to understand the decision does not have to do with them, but has to do with the opportunities you have and have chosen to pursue as part of a long-term plan.
2. Leaving the coaching staff.
As an assistant, it can feel as if you “owe” the head coach of your program for bringing you on the coaching staff. With that said, the beauty of telling the head coach is that they have likely been in your shoes and have also had the difficult job of resigning to move on to another program. If the coach cares about you and your career development, they will understand. If they don’t value your development, well, then do you really want to stay anyway???
The second piece is that women often build a social fabric within the coaching staff and they may feel as if they are severing friendships and alliances. The challenge is to think MUCH BIGGER. Remember, these coaching colleagues are now part of your network and you will still see them and work with them in your lifetime. You may sit on committees with them, refer them to a job you heard about, hire them for a position with you, and call upon them when you are looking to move up again. The key is to invest in these relationships and make sure your colleagues understand your commitment to maintaining a relationship. In this way, you are simply building upon your current relationship, not severing your ties.
3. Uprooting their families.
This is just tough.In each of the 3 women who spoke with me about this – all were either in a committed relationship or in a committed relationship with children. Either way, it can be difficult to make a geographic move when you have others to consider. It can be helpful to include your family members in the decision. When you make your “pros and cons list,” involve your family. Address their needs as well. Ask them about their feelings. No situation where a move is required will be perfect for everyone involved, but remaining positive and focusing on the benefits of the move can be helpful.