Monday, April 25, 2016

Should I be getting paid for a volunteer job?

I have coached for almost 30 years and have only been paid to coach a team one year.  Most years I didn't even take expense money (hotels, travel).  And when I coach my own child, she pays as much as everyone else, no discounts.

That being said, I get it.   Club volleyball has exploded in our region.   There is a huge need for coaches.   So club directors have to be able to get very busy adults to want to coach.  Every prospective coach I talk to asks me if they will be getting paid.  It's not always the first question they ask but every single person I have talked to about coaching asks the question.  Young people who might not be as lucky as I was, job-wise, or older people who have a million other things pulling at their free time and who are trying to make ends meet.  These people probably need to make SOMETHING out of coaching just to cover expenses.   Still, how much should coaches be paid?

I had this long, drawn out explanation of what I thought coaches should get paid but I decided not to lengthen this post with that.   Suffice it to say that a coach whose team practices twice a week and plays in 8 tournaments a year puts in about 120 hours with their team.  It comes down to how much you, as a parent, think that time is worth in what might be a real job (W-2 issued at the end of the year) or a pseudo-job (no W-2 issued and any payments treated as reimbursements for time and expenses).  I don't have any gauge as to how much select coaches get "paid" in other sports.   Maybe club volleyball coaches are underpaid, I don't know.  Maybe some of you have experience and I will let you be the judge.  However, as a parent whose son or daughter plays club volleyball in this region, I think you should be asking yourself (and your club) the following questions:

a. Do I know how much the coach is making (including any discounts that coach is getting for his/her kid(s) playing in that club) to coach my child's team?

b. Do the coaches in this club make different amounts based on their experience and prior success or are they all paid the same?  My premise here is that not all coaches are equal so neither should their pay, if they accept pay to coach.  If coaches want to get paid more, they should work to improve their coaching skills.  If you just pay every coach the same amount there is no incentive for improvement.

c. Looking around the region at what other coaches are being paid, do I think this coach, based on their experience, is being paid appropriately?  I think this is important.   Club directors can pay coaches if that is what it takes to get coaches.  But, again, pay should be related to ability and experience, as it is in any job situationn. 

I don't think it is mean to ask these questions.  It is just good consumerism.  With 800 head + assistant coaches in our region, I think these are questions you need to ask and here are two real life
situations I have heard about over the past few years that represent reasons where you might want to ask those questions:

a. A coach in a club was paid and also their child played for free, a $1000 value.  Not sure if the parents on that team knew that or not.   Her only previous coaching experience was catholic grade school (CYC) volleyball.

 b. A club had two girls still in high school coaching a younger team in their club.   I don't know if those coaches were getting the same pay as other coaches in their club.  Probably shouldn't have as they were clearly had no select coaching experience.

So, in summary, I don't think coaches should be paid but I understand why they are paid.   If they are paid, however, I think that pay should be tied to their level of experience they have and how much contact they have with their team.  Also, I don't think all coaches in the same club should get the same pay and I think parents should know how much their coach is getting paid/reimbursed for expenses/getting discounts for their kid(s) playing in that club.  We can't really treat club volleyball like a volunteer activity if the coaches and club administrators are being paid.  It becomes, at some level, a business (albeit maybe a not-for-profit business).  I have heard that one club director said he wanted to turn this into a 6-figure salary for himself.  If that is true this is more than a business, it is BIG business. 

Which leads us into what will be my next topic: Do you know where your money went this season for your child's club team?

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