Opinion Corner: Working from the ground upJamestown Public Schools is moving toward something all athletics programs around the country should be going to: unifying its coaching community from the top down.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
Jamestown Public Schools is moving toward something all athletics programs around the country should be going to: unifying its coaching community from the top down.
Last month, the Jamestown Public School Board approved a decision to implement vertical communication — meaning head high school coaches for each sport will work with sub-varsity level programs within their sport all the way down to the youngest age levels.
And that’s the way it should be. It’s a logical, informed decision to help the future of all Jamestown athletics and it just flat out makes sense.
If you’re a head varsity coach and you want to build the best overall program possible, it starts with the youth teams within your sport — that’s where the foundation is built.
I moved out here in February from a suburb of Washington, D.C., and it’s amazing to see how some aspects of athletics are drastically different but how others are eerily the same, despite a separation of about 1,500 miles.
For instance, this commitment from varsity coaches to work with sub-varsity level programs was not a requirement of my hometown’s public schools athletics programs — which still leaves me scratching my head to this very day.
A good coach instructs, motivates and reviews the talent he or she has in front of them for that season. A great coach does all of those things in addition to preparing his or her program for seasons to come.
That preparation involves getting the players from youth levels in each sport ready for that next step and buying into the program as a whole.
Some would say it’s enough for head varsity coaches to just coach their team and provide some mentoring and instruction to junior varsity teams within the same school, but I highly disagree.
Having spent two seasons in Maryland as a varsity assistant coach and sub-varsity level head coach, this writer is not naïve to the workload and time commitment involved in just coaching one team, let alone helping out with others.
But if given the opportunity to work with sub-varsity level programs all the way down to the youngest age levels, why not take full advantage of that?
Vertical communication from the top down not only helps build a relationship between a young athlete and a varsity coach whom they will likely see down the road, but it allows varsity coaches and sub-varsity level coaches to build relationships as well.
I see this most positively affecting the Jamestown High School football program. New head coach Tim Fletcher will now be able to see the talent he has coming into his program for years to come and work with youth football coaches who are getting that talent ready for his varsity football program.
Naysayers will proclaim that we should “just let the kids enjoy themselves when they’re young and if they make it to the varsity level, that’s great.”
The reality is that kids can still enjoy youth-level sports while having a long-term goal in mind to compete at varsity.
And I am well aware that not every youth-level athlete will go on to play junior varsity sports, much less varsity. But this movement to vertical communication gives those athletes who will go on to compete at the varsity level the most thorough coaching possible.
It’s also not to say that just because a kid does not participate in youth-level sports or has moved in from a different community that he or she cannot excel at the varsity level in high school.
All I’m saying is that I applaud JPS athletics for making this move and I truly believe it will prove to be extremely beneficial to not just the varsity programs, but the sub-varsity level programs as well.
Will it be additional work for these head varsity coaches? Certainly — but given some patience and a positive approach, they will see the fruits of their labor for many years to come.
Willhide is a news writer at the Jamestown Sun