Coaching abuses are
isolated, officials say

A retired coach in Waianae
thinks having teachers
on the sidelines helps

Hawaii has more than 2,000 public-school coaches and hundreds more at private schools. Most do their jobs well and for meager pay, officials and parents say.

But a handful of Hawaii coaches have gotten into trouble in recent months, generating headlines and creating the impression of a growing problem.

Local officials, however, say the cases are isolated and don't indicate a trend. The state does not keep statistics on disciplined or fired school coaches.

"The vast majority of our coaches are honest, hard-working people who have the best interests of our student athletes at heart," said Keith Amemiya, executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association. "There may be a few bad apples here and there, but that shouldn't cast a negative shadow on the rest of the coaches."

Of the recent examples involving coaches getting into trouble, most were not faculty members but had other jobs and coached on the side.

Larry Ginoza, retired Waianae football coach, said he wasn't surprised by that common thread. Teachers are trained in how to instruct youth and how to deal with disruptive students, skills that are helpful in coaching, Ginoza said. There's also more accountability by having teachers coach students, Ginoza and others said.

"I'm not saying all coaches should be teachers, but it sure helps," he said.

The majority of school coaches in Hawaii are non-faculty members.

Attracting anyone to coach and keeping them once they sign up is difficult, given the low pay, huge time commitment, fear of being sued and other factors, industry officials say.

Teachers in the Department of Education system, for instance, earn about $2,300 to coach basketball or baseball, and non-teachers get about $1,900.

"If you figure the hours they put in, they could make more money at McDonald's," said Dwight Toyama, the department's athletic administrator.

To help boost quality, the department two years ago started requiring all Department of Education coaches to take an eight-hour certification class and pass the course exam within two years of hiring.

Amemiya's organization in January adopted a similar certification requirement that will take effect in the fall, covering public and private school leagues.


Good coaching

Within two years of hiring, Hawaii's public school coaches are required to take an eight-hour certification class and pass an exam. Among the topics covered in the National Federation of State High School Associations class:

» Philosophy and leadership style. Use sports to help students become better citizens.
» Planning and preparing. How to develop lesson plans and practice plans.
» Drugs and supplements. The impact of such substances.
» Risk management. Health and safety issues for students, safe equipment practices.
» Sports first aid. How to deal with injuries.

Source: National Federation of State High School Associations

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