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Volunteers vital to teams’ success

The Chilton County football team features three coaches that are compensated by the county board of education—and 85 players.

Anyone who has driven by a practice, though, knows the Tigers have a few more assistants. Though the board only provides salary supplements for three varsity football coaches per school, booster clubs and volunteers make up the difference.

In CCHS’s case, the real total of coaches is 12, and head coach Brian Carter said they are all necessary in the task of helping players improve.

“It’s just like a classroom,” Carter said. “You’re able to cover more information with a smaller number of people. The more detailed you can get, the more effective you can be.

“All our coaches are very vital to us; they all have a role.”

So, instead of a 28:1 player-to-coach ratio at CCHS based solely on supplemented coaches, the ratio becomes a much more manageable 7:1.

And more coaches are necessary for players to be able to focus on their positions. Three coaches, for example, wouldn’t be able to instruct quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, offensive and defensive linemen, linebackers, defensive backs and kickers at the same time. Twelve coaches can.

But not all schools have the advantage of a thriving booster club to provide money for several assistants. Class 2A Isabella, for example, makes due with its three supplemented assistants plus three volunteers. The board of education distinguishes between schools in classes 1A-3A and those that are 4A or 5A, superintendent Keith Moore said. The larger schools get the varsity coaches plus two supplements specifically for junior high coaches. The smaller schools must use one of their supplements for a coach that will also coach junior high.

Moore, who coached Verbena’s football team in 2002, knows the importance of securing coaches through means other than county supplements.

“In our system, volunteers and booster clubs play a big part in a coaching staff,” Moore said.

Two of Isabella’s volunteers—Landon Mims and Reece Morton—are college students whose work is part of their curriculum, a common scenario in the county.

Volunteers don’t just show up and coach, Isabella coach Lanny Jones stressed. A would-be coach has to complete coaching fundamentals, sports first aid and sportsmanship courses and become CPR certified, as mandated by the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

Depending on the school, volunteers can actually end up paying for the courses, about $200 for all of them, out of their own pocket—effectively paying to work instead of being paid to work.

“It’s time consuming, getting everything together,” Jones said. “They have to really just want to coach.”