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A Guide to Help Coaches and Schools Prepare for Year

By Mark Cousins, Athletic Director | Monday, August 27, 2012 2:11 PM

Over the years, I have spent many column inches in the Leaguer discussing what schools and coaches need to do to ensure that their programs and participants are ready for the school year. In this column, I want to focus on what the schools need to do to ensure themselves and their coaches are ready for the beginning of the season.

The day-to-day work of a coach is dedicated to making sure the students are prepared to be successful in the classroom and also in the extracurricular activity of their choice.

In many cases, the things that coaches have to do in order to qualify to coach in Texas are sometimes overlooked. These dedicated professionals that we call ‘coach’ spend hundreds of hours each year preparing kids to be their best. But before they can work with the students, they must also spend many hours preparing themselves to meet the various requirements needed in order to coach.

According to UIL rules, a school is not eligible for UIL competition in an athletic activity unless the head coach and assistant high school coaches are full-time employees of the school district of the school which the team represents.  In addition to being a full time employee (more than 90 percent of high school coaches in athletics are also classroom teachers), coaches are also required to meet standards set forth by their local school districts, the UIL and state law. 

A summary of requirements from UIL and state law includes: certification in first aid, CPR and use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), safety training, steroid education, education related to concussions and traumatic brain injury, rules compliance and sport specific rules information.
According to section 33.086 of the Texas Education Code, a school district employee who serves as the head director of a school marching band or as the head coach or chief sponsor for an extracurricular athletic activity, including cheerleading, sponsored or sanctioned by a school district or the University Interscholastic League must maintain and submit to the district proof of current certification in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation issued by the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or another organization that provides equivalent training and certification. A school district shall annually make available to district employees and volunteers instruction in the principles and techniques of CPR and the use of an AED.
Section 33.202 of the Texas Education Code addresses safety training for school athletic coaches, trainers and marching band directors.

The safety training program outlined in state law requires annual training in relation to emergency action planning; cardiopulmonary resuscitation if the person is not required to obtain certification under Section 33.086; communicating effectively with 9-1-1 emergency service operators and other emergency personnel; and recognizing symptoms of potentially catastrophic injuries, including head and neck injuries, concussions, injuries related to second impact syndrome, asthma attacks, heatstroke, cardiac arrest and injuries requiring use of a defibrillator.

Additionally, at least once every school year, each school is required to conduct a safety drill that incorporates the training described above and provide training to participants concerning recognizing symptoms of potentially catastrophic injuries, including head and neck injuries, concussions, injuries related to second impact syndrome, asthma attacks, heatstroke, cardiac arrest and injuries requiring use of a defibrillator as well as the risks of using dietary supplements designed to enhance or marketed as enhancing athletic performance.

In reference to anabolic steroids, state law mandates that each school district require any employee who serves as an athletic coach at or above the seventh grade level for an extracurricular athletic activity to complete training regarding the health effects of anabolic steroid use.

Recent legislation concerning concussions has added a requirement for coaches in grades 7-12 to complete at least two hours of training every two years in the subject matter of concussions, including evaluation, prevention, symptoms, risks and long-term effects.

The UIL created the Rules Compliance Program (RCP) in 2010 to assist schools and coaches with compliance with the various state mandates and UIL rule requirements. With the exception of concussion education and CPR/First Aid requirements, all other UIL and state mandates can be completed with the RCP.

In addition to the above requirements, there is also a specific additional requirement for first year coaches and for coaches at the junior high level who are not full-time employees of the school district. All first year coaches and any coach who is not a full-time employee of the school district must complete the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Fundamentals of Coaching Course prior to his/her participation as a coach for any UIL member school. This course from the NFHS provides a unique student-centered curriculum for interscholastic teacher/coaches, assisting them in creating a healthy and age-appropriate athletic experience that supports the educational mission of our nation's schools.

Since 1920, the NFHS has been a leader of education-based interscholastic sports and activities that help students succeed. Several of the courses provided by NFHS are free of charge and include: A Guide to Heat Acclimatization and Heat Illness Prevention; Concussion in Sports - What You Need To Know; Creating A Safe And Respectful Environment; Sportsmanship; and The Role of the Parent in Sports. Coaches, administrators, parents and students are encouraged to make use of the educational resources that the NFHS makes available through their Learning Center at