558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
When the Crook County School District slashed funding for athletics immediately prior to the start of the 2009 spring sports season, the community of Prineville rallied together to ensure that sports teams could continue competing.
Fundraising quickly became the name of the game with coaches, parents, and athletes spending countless hours raising money to keep teams on the field or court.
Now, more than four years later, the school district still does not fully fund athletics.
Eventually, $75,000 was added back into the budget to help cover the cost of transportation. However, teams are still on their own when it comes to generating the funds necessary to play, purchase equipment, and to pay coaches.
In recent years, Crook County School District has lost coaches in droves.
Regardless of whether or not there are budget problems, there has always been turnover in the coaching profession.
However, in this case, the situation is different. Although no coaches have given budget problems and fundraising as their primary reason for leaving the coaching profession, the resignations have created a coaching shortage in the district.
Since cutting athletic funding, Crook County High School has seen more than 15 head coaches resign. The latest coaches to call
it quits are boys and girls head basketball coaches Jeff Lowenbach and Dave Johnson. Rumors have at least one other head coach also resigning at the end of the year.
Unfortunately, at this point in time, even if full funding is restored for the CCHS athletic program the coaching problem isnít going away anytime soon.
The problem is that for the past several years the school district has been able to hire very few new teachers.
In the past, coaching and teaching positions were often tied together, making it possible to attract experienced head coaches from other districts.
With budget uncertainties and a lack of teaching openings, that hasnít been happening.
The result is that the district has been forced to hire head coaches with limited experience, including individuals whose only coaching experience has been volunteering in youth sports programs.
Although some of these individuals may eventually become good head coaches they are ill- equipped to train quality assistant coaches.
The result is that even when full funding is reinstated, it may be years before the effects of the funding shortage are fully realized.
Competent, trained assistant coaches are vital to the success of any athletic program.
Consequently, when new CCHS athletic director Rob Bonner takes over this summer he is going to have several tasks that will be crucial to the CCHS athletic program for years to come.
Among his many responsibilities will be finding creative ways to take some of the fundraising burdens off of head coaches.
Parents and students alike want the athletic program to be successful. Even with the best coaches, it sometimes takes years to build a truly successful program. Without skilled and passionate coaches that are willing to devote time year round to their program, it is very difficult to develop a winning program.
Consequently, recruiting qualified head coaches to replace the coaches that have resigned will also be vital.
Finally, it is going to be critical to the future of Crook County athletics that Bonner can create an environment that encourages improved coaching education and training. Anything less and Crook County is going to feel the impact of its budget problems for years to come, even when funding is fully restored.