Coaching NC high school sports has rewards, though they're not monetary

tstevens@newsobserver.comApril 19, 2014 

Mike Miragliuolo, and many other area high school baseball coaches, will be on their fields before school with a shovel and 50-pound bags of drying material if wet conditions threaten a game.

He writes about spending his early spring mornings in ankle deep muck before beginning his work day as an AP U.S. Government and Politics teacher at Green Hope High in his book, “The Real Story of a High School Coach.”

Miragliuolo has been unusually successful as a coach, but in many ways he is typical of many high school coaches. He writes about the compensation, the workload and the joys and sorrows of coaching teenagers in interscholastic athletics.

The compensation, he believes, is minimal.

The Wake County extra duty supplement scale has had only minor adjustments since it was adopted in 1987. The scale was based on about $4.00 an hour.

A Wake County baseball coach with 20 years of experience receives a supplement of $3,028.

For that supplement, the baseball coach is expected to maintain the field on a year-round basis and to select, train and coach the team. Most baseball coaches, and most all other high school coaches, usually drive the bus to competitions and conduct off-season skill development sessions.

Miragliuolo receives another Wake County supplement as Green Hope’s cross country coach. His teams have won six N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A championships and the Falcons may have the largest high school team in the country with about 250 athletes. He supervises them each afternoon during the fall season.

The supplement for a 20-year veteran cross country coach in Wake County is $1,817.

Deran Coe, the Wake County Schools senior administrator for athletics, said there is no coaching supplement increase in Wake superintendent Jim Merrill’s proposed budget for next year, but that coaching supplements might be examined in the future.

“No one coaches high school sports for the money,” Miragliuolo said. “But the money may keep some quality coaches in the profession. I don’t know how a coach with a family can justify to his family the amount of work that is needed for the amount of money that is received.”

The rewards, Miragliuolo writes, are great.

He examines why he coaches and scrutinizes his standard answer: he coaches for the kids. He eventually concludes that he receives more from the players than he gives to them. He writes of their willingness to strive for greatness and their resiliency.

He believes high school sports are a glorious celebration of youth and fitness and that high school sports need to be fun. He also embraces the Wake County Schools policy that he is coaching students, not athletes.

“Forget the painted lines and the grass,” said Coe, the Wake athletic director. “Coaches are in a classroom on the field or in the gym. Winning and losing games are just a healthy by-product of coaches having an impact on student’s lives.”

But Miragliuolo knows winning and losing is a factor in coaches keeping their positions and writes that the lack of joy that some students have from participating in athletics bothers him more than low wages and job security.

Stevens: 919-829-8910

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