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Coaches in it for the love of the game

High school coaching stipends explored
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Joey Montoya estimates that with the amount of time he spends coaching the Placer High football team, his stipend probably amounts to cents per hour. You won’t hear him, or many of the other coaches in the Placer Union High School District complain, though. While the going rate for coaching a team at the high school level may be a pittance compared to the astronomical salaries of professional and even college coaches, Montoya and others say it’s a job they treasure. “Honestly, you are talking about cents per hour. If we wanted to make money, we’d do it at the next level,” Montoya said. “I coach because I love kids and I want to make a difference in their lives. If I make money at it, or don’t, so be it.” According to the district’s extra compensation salary schedule the pay for varsity coaches in the district starts at $3,154. After three years it bumps up to $3,404 and after six years it caps at $3,754. Montoya said that after he takes some out to pay his assistant coaches a little bit extra, his stipend ends up being about $2,500 for the season. He said that while many people think being the head football coach is his only job, his primary income comes from teaching physical education at Placer. Although the salaries are on a per-season basis, Montoya said he runs camps and conditioning during the summer, like most high school coaches. Bernhard Peat, who will be an assistant varsity basketball coach at Placer next year, was a prolific athlete at Placer himself years ago. He said that the amount of time coaches put into a sport has increased dramatically over the years. “In the past, you had your season and once the season was over you didn’t see the coaches anymore. We didn’t start football until the second week in August,” Peat said. “If you really wanted to excel in one particular sport, you had to work out on your own.” Peat said putting in extra time is crucial in today’s more competitive athletic climate. “One coach started giving a little more. In order to keep up with the Jones’ and build a program you have to put in more time,” Peat said. Peat said he would also gladly coach for free, if it wouldn’t negatively impact other coaches. In addition to his responsibilities at Placer, Peat coaches girls basketball at E.V. Cain Charter Middle School. “I really can’t speak for other coaches. Me personally, I would do it for nothing,” Peat said. “You still have to take a stipend, or it has a trickle down effect on everyone. They will say, ‘this guy is willing to do it for free.’” Eric Vereyken, director of human resources for the Placer Union High School District, said coach’s salaries were agreed upon by the teacher’s union and district. “It’s something that has been negotiated in the past and because of that I would assume both sides feel it’s fair given the current economic situation,” Vereyken said. “I feel our coaches go above and beyond and monetary compensation is not the only motivation for them.” In comparison to some neighboring school districts, coaches in the Placer Union High School District are paid slightly more. In the Roseville Joint Union High School District, the starting pay for the majority of varsity coaches is $2,700, according to the athletic coaches salary schedule for 2010-2011. Varsity football coaches in that district make slightly more at $3,000. They also offer an increase of $100 for experience in the sport for six through 10 years, and $150 for 11 or more years. In the Elk Grove Unified School District, coaches salaries begin at $762 and end at $3,500. Increased pay is based upon increased education and pay step. Jack Morgan, who just retired this year as the Colfax High Snowboard coach, said he really hasn’t heard any coaches gripe about, or celebrate their salaries. The alpine sports at Colfax don’t receive funding from the district, according to Morgan, but the district still requires that the head coach receive a stipend at the established going rate. That means donations from students are necessary to keep the team alive. Morgan estimates that he also drove about 9,000 miles a year for team-related events during his 10 years as head coach. He was allowed to deduct that from his taxes, but didn’t receive mileage from the district. He said his total cost of gas was well over $1,000 last year. “It makes you wonder, ‘Is somebody taking advantage of us?’” Morgan said. “But I understand how the budget goes. It’s a low number and it’s just the nature of the beast.” Morgan agrees with Montoya and Peat that he couldn’t put a price on the experiences he has had coaching. “I think the respect and admiration you get from the kids and the community. They seem to appreciate it and they tell you so,” Morgan said. “Sitting there with my assistant coach and letting him press the button on the compute to show us who won the state championship, and then falling off our chairs with excitement, and then trying to keep it a secret until the awards ceremony that night. That was very fun.” Montoya said the bottom line is most coaches, including him, are in it for the love of the game. “You don’t go into high school coaching to make money,” Montoya said. “You want to make a difference in (the students’) lives.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com. _______________________________________________________ How do local coach’s salaries compare to neighboring districts? Sport Placer Union High School District * Roseville Joint Union High School District* Elk Grove Unified School District** Football $3,154-$3,754 $3,000 $762-$3500 Basketball boys/girls $3,154-$3,754 $2,700 $762-$3500 Track $3,154-$3,754 $2,700 $762-$3500 Baseball $3,154-$3,754 $2,700 $762-$3500 Softball $3,154-$3,754 $2,700 $762-$3500 Volleyball $3,154-$3,754 $2,700 $762-$3500 (all information from respective district salary schedules and pay is for the entire season) *Varsity level pay only **Pay for all levels, with increases for education and years on the job What did some local coach’s make last year? Name Position School Coaching Stipend Joey Montoya Head varsity football coach Placer High School $2,500-3,000 after paying assistant coaches a little bit extra Bernhard Peat Assistant varsity basketball Placer High School $2,500 Jack Morgan Snowboard Coach Colfax High School $3,754 (income from coaching only, as provided by coaches)