Coaching turnover at the high school level has become more and more prominent.
Outside influences, administrative duties, athlete’s attitudes, scholarship hungry parents and time commitments have made being a leader of a program completely different than it once was in a simpler time.
Coaches spend not nearly as much time actually coaching than they would like. It’s one of the many reasons they are choosing to walk away or take assistant roles. Or they simply walk away all together.
It’s a less than glamorous time, making seemingly pennies per hours, for what once was great job.
Mountain Pointe knows all about it. There might not be another school hit harder by coaching changes over the last two years.
Of the 21 varsity sports, 14 of the programs will enter the next school with their coach either in his/her first or second year.
The athletic director and athletic secretary also have seen change so 16 of the 23 (70 percent) athletic department positions have had change in the last two years.
“There has been a lot of turnover the last couple of years,” Mountain Pointe principal Bruce Kipper said. “I would say there are a couple of reasons for the changes.
One is the changing landscape of expectations, both from an administrative point of view and from parents. Our first goal is to find the best coach who is also an excellent teacher. This is getting harder and harder to do each year. By finding an on-campus coach you get someone who is invested in the entire school process and not just their sport.”
Mountain Pointe administration recently submitted four new coaches for background checks and Tempe Union High School District board approval. It left one position — softball — unfilled as the summer approached.
“I still firmly believe we can be good in everything — academics, extracurricular clubs, and athletics,” Kipper said. “I don’t believe the pie is limited. But it does take a lot of hard work and time.
We are continually looking for teachers and coaches that have the same belief. Some of the coaches that aren’t here anymore either lost that mentality and didn’t have it.”
The transition will be made easier with some of the new hires with coaches familiar with the program and the players.
Jazmyn Ledford, 22, is taking over the Pride’s girls soccer program after graduating from Mountain Pointe in 2010 and being an assistant the last four seasons.
“It was the phone call I’ve been waiting for all of my life,” said Ledford, who added she would play a similar system to the one former coach Mark Wilson used. “I started balling and couldn’t wait to get started.”
The Mountain Pointe boys volleyball program will have its third coach in three years, but at least the new coach — Clay Webb — was the junior varsity coach and varsity assistant last year.
Webb, 27, played at Hamilton and coached at Corona del Sol before coming to Mountain Pointe last year and is a physical education teacher in the Kyrene School District. He also knows some of the players as an Aspire Club coach.
“I will have had direct contact with most of the players on varsity next year,” he said. “We can build off last year (which included a playoff win) and play to our strengths.”
The swim program will be taken over by Greg Mahon, who is was the program’s first state champion and won a total of six in his time at Mountain Pointe, while Lisa Mancuso, the sister and longtime assistant to former coach Steve Mancuso, will remain a part of the program to help the transition.
Mahon, who is married and has two children, time dates to the early 1990s and he brings an old-school approach that served him well while coaching club at Gold Medal, Phoenix Swim Club and Tempe Rio Salado over the years.
While he has had plenty of time working with elite club swimmers, Mahon is ready to mentor anyone who comes out for the program.
“To be honest I really thrive on kids who never swam before,” he said. “When they make it down that pool without having to stop or finish a race for the first time, it really motivates me and reminds me what coaching is about.”
The final recent hire is the only one who doesn’t have ties to the school as Mark Campbell takes over the boys soccer team after spending the previous six seasons at Bradshaw Mountain, where he was head coach for the girls program and assistant for the boys team.
Campbell, 41, is ready to take over and expects to bring a balanced approach.
“I want players to play their position,” he said. “I don’t think you can say it is more of an attacking style or more of a defensive style. I’m a more balanced coach. We have to have team defense in all cases. No one player is bigger than the team.
“I hope to grow with the players and play good team soccer in the first year.”
Many new pieces are in place as the Mountain Pointe Athletic Department looks to build to the future with new leaders.
“Our expectations are the same — developing young women and men into strong character citizens and winning state titles,” Kipper said. “It is hard to put into words, but we believe we are and can remain a top 10 school in everything.”
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