What Happened to the Teacher-Coach in Schools Across America?

There once was a time not that long ago where nearly all of the coaches in middle and high schools were teacher-coaches, meaning they were teachers by day and coaches after school.  In fact, in those days it was rare to find coaches who weren’t also teachers.  Today, the exact opposite has occurred, where most coaches in schools across America today are folks in the community, not teachers.  Obviously there has been a major paradigm shift when it comes to interscholastic coaches, but is there a net effect (positive or negative) for student athletes?


The traditional (now antiquated) teacher-coach prototype had both pros and cons.  Listed below are some of the advantages and disadvantages told to me by coaches, parents, and student athletes:


  • Required to have been formally trained to work with kids through their education, teaching, and license requirements.
  • Teacher-coaches are part of the school culture and embrace school pride.
  • Tend to understand parent/community norms and expectations around success, integrity, and sportsmanship.


  • May not have a lot of sport experience, or trained to coach.
  • Might view coaching primarily a means to increase their teaching salary and not fully invested in helping develop student athletes interested in playing college sports.

Interscholastic coaches who are not teachers (meaning they work outside the school system) are reported to have the following advantages and disadvantages:


  • Very often these individuals have a passion for the sport they coach, many having advanced experience in coaching education.
  • Coaches who have previously played college and professional sports may be better equipped to help families prepare for future college athletics.


  • May not have been formally trained to work with kids, sometimes resulting in an over-emphasis on athletic development at the expense of prioritizing academics (student-athlete model).
  • Can be difficult to reach during the day not working in the school.

While there may be differences between the teacher-coach/non-teacher-coach prototypes, the good news is that the vast majority of coaches today are trained, committed, and passionate in their efforts working with kids.  Not only do coaches help kids develop athletic skills, they regularly model the importance of responsibility, discipline, and accepting the title of ‘role model.’


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