Football team

Coaching Minor Gives Students a Leg Up on the Competition

In today’s economy, recent college graduates—including future elementary and secondary teachers—are looking for ways to get a foot in the door with potential employers.

Stephen Schwartz, coordinator of coaching training programs and assistant to the dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences, notes that New York State coaching certification could be just the thing that gives an education graduate the edge.

“Many school districts in Western New York have just eight to 10 physical education teachers who are certified to coach, but there is often a need for up to 30 coaching positions for the various boys and girls sports offered in the middle and high schools,” Schwartz said. “A potential teacher who has the New York State coaching certification will have their foot in the door with school districts [during the hiring process].”

That demand has led the 18-credit-hour coaching minor to become the largest minor on campus, with more than 80 students enrolled in the program, according to Schwartz. “We are actually bigger than some majors,” Schwartz said.

New York State’s certification program focuses on five key components: Candidates are introduced to the principles and philosophies of athletics in education in HPR 300, followed by an overview of the physiology, psychology, and health issues related to sport in HPR 309. Candidates then choose to focus on an individual sport (basketball, football, soccer, etc.) in a techniques and theories class or in an internship experience. Next, HPR 335, Care and Prevention of Athletic Injuries, prepares candidates to respond to the first-aid needs of their future players. The final component of the certification is a two-hour state-mandated course in child-abuse identification and reporting.

The minor builds on the certification program by introducing candidates to additional techniques and coaching theories, while also requiring a course on one of the following topics: sociology of sport, social behavior, kinesiology, drug- and alcohol-abuse prevention, or sports management and marketing.

“Most of our candidates only know one style of coaching, dating back to their time playing sports in high school,” Schwartz said. “The minor and certification program expose candidates to multiple coaching and motivation techniques, along with a focus on risk-management skills.”

On top of a teacher’s salary, coaching stipends can average between $500 and $5,000 per sport, which can be “a nice supplement,” said Schwartz. He also notes that school districts sometimes hire non-teachers to coach sports if individuals are certified. In addition to working with education majors enrolled in the coaching minor, Schwartz often works with students from other majors, such as criminal justice and health and wellness.

While the monetary benefit is nice, Schwartz said, most candidates enter the program for other reasons. “Coaching can be a lot of fun and is very rewarding,” he said.