It's impossible to pin every dropped pass, botched spike and slow 3.1-mile run on coaching. But the Charleston County School District needs help as rarely before, and maybe you can lend a hand.
New and slightly flawed CCSD policy for this academic year mandates that all coaches -- assistants included -- be full-time salaried employees of the district. "Salaried" means teachers, counselors and administrators ineligible for overtime pay, and means a bunch of hard-working athletes no longer have those knowledgeable firemen and investment advisors showing up at practice as paid assistants.
Calling all former coaches, ex-minor leaguers and college lettermen: The new policy does allow for volunteers and somewhere in Charleston County, there are high school athletes in need of your tutelage.
"Absolutely," said busy CCSD athletic director Dave Spurlock, who has done a tremendous job of helping district schools adjust. "There are folks out there who know a lot about a particular sport and to them I say, 'Lord, we need your help.' "
What a great volunteer opportunity.
You can work with a head coach who cares, with motivated kids willing to sweat.
A little experience and teaching ability goes a long way.
"The quality of coaching on the high school level is always iffy at best," Spurlock said. "If we paid them a million dollars, we could probably talk about quality a little bit more. When you're getting paid $4,000 to work 60 extra hours a week for three or four months, it's more wanting to do it is what I'm looking for."
Want to do it? For free?
You must pass a SLED background check.
Rewards? Every day and for the rest of your life.
No, this is not the perfect way to make Johnny a better ballplayer. If scholastic sports at some schools haven't already surrendered athletic expertise to travel league coaches, this policy hastens the process.
Obviously and unfortunately, new CCSD rules allow the big to get richer. Better odds of schools with more salaried employees to fill assistant coach roles, with wider gaps expected in less popular sports.
Ideally, there should be a hardship clause: Each school should be allowed to plug a few holes on their assistant coach rosters with a small number of paid outside assistant coaches, maybe three or four per school.
Lou Holtz example
The CCSD policy was adopted mostly because it got into a $1.1 million hole after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation found 380 employees missing overtime pay from 2003-2005. Most dedicated assistant coaches work so many hours they unintentionally make a mockery of permissible overtime rules, particularly when their games go into overtime.
But this is not that complex for a school system charged with teaching kids algebra, Spanish and neat stuff about the Jeffersonian view of government.
Surely, some smart folks in the district or within a PTA committee can come up with a limited hours plan that complies with the Fair Labor Standards Act and pays, say, a pitching coach a few days a week.
Ah, but there is wiggle room in this new policy.
"If Lou Holtz moves to Kiawah, he could volunteer at one of our schools," Spurlock said of the former Notre Dame and South Carolina coach.
And Holtz could do a lot of work, as long as the head coach or coordinator he essentially replaced shows up at all games and practices and Holtz is not paid.
Volunteer coaches certainly are welcome to give private lessons on the side, building their client lists through charity.
But as dropped passes add up and winter sports give way to spring, the volunteer cry is loud and clear. The CCSD needs a few good men and women.