Friday, February 29, 2008
Barry Haley fields parent questions about sports at CCHS
Barry Haley gave an overview of his role as the the Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) athletic director and answered questions about the high school sports programs during a CCHS Parents Association meeting earlier this month. Haley, who joined the faculty last year, was very enthusiastic about the new Beede Swim Center and the two artificial turf fields that are under construction at the high school. He has clear goals and wants open communication, supports student leadership opportunities, hopes to foster support for the athletic budget and clarify parents’ roles. He asks, “At the end of a season, did the student develop a love of the sport? Did the student see growth over the season?”
Haley seeks better connection with Carlisle to insure that incoming freshmen interested in fall sports know that practice actually starts before school officially opens. For next fall, football practice will start on August 18 and other fall sports (cross-country, field hockey, soccer, golf and girls’ volleyball) will start on August 21. He hopes to put together an “Info Night” to present all the high school clubs and sports to the incoming class. Haley also recommended that students and parents check the CCHS athletics web site frequently for information at www.colonial.net/schoolweb/cchsweb.
Many CCHS students participate in sports. About 600 students participated in fall and winter sports, and roughly 60% of students participate in more than one sports season. Several sports, such as soccer, football, basketball and field hockey, include freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams. Haley is happy with the range of choices for students.
Parent questions covered many topics:
“The priority is to get kids home at a reasonable time,” Haley said, but he noted that the limited pool of officials can affect scheduling. He used field hockey as an example. “We can’t play varsity and JV at the same time. We don’t have enough officials.” He tries to limit late night practices. Ice time continues to be an issue. Some practices start at 5:20 a.m. A new rink is opening in Bedford, and Haley hopes this will ease this constraint. With 31 teams, some with multiple levels, one of his biggest and most time-consuming challenges is scheduling gym, field and ice time.
Cuts on freshman teams
“Philosophically, we should never cut,” Haley said, but observed that when there are too many kids on a team, it limits skill development. He used basketball as an example, where only five team members are on the court at a time. CCHS teams that do not cut include cross -country running and Nordic skiing.
Participation levels in a sport fluctuate and sustainability can be an issue at times. For instance, the girls ice hockey team started last year, and this year, 11 of the 19 girls on the team are juniors. That is why a waiver allowed a few talented eighth-grade girls to join the team. Haley later said that waivers are rarely used. In this case, there had been no infrastructure feeding the high school team. However, a Concord middle school team has now been established.
Haley said that assigning students of different maturity and skill levels to teams is difficult, “It’s always a problem. It’s subjective decision-making.” If a freshman’s skill set is good enough for varsity, should that student play with the older students? Haley said the younger player may be taken out of his or her normal social setting, and may also wind up sitting on the bench and playing less than if he or she were placed on the freshman team. Less play time is bad for the athlete’s skill-set development. Haley said, “These are hard decisions.”
Teams usually practice five or six days a week. Haley said, “Coaches want more time with the team. It’s good for bonding and it improves skills. Every coach would say, —˜We don’t practice enough.’”
Haley noted that it is always an effort to balance practice time with time available for school work and family commitments. Haley added that the sports schedule is a huge adjustment for freshmen.
Haley thinks teachers are ideal coaches because they touch both academics and athletics. It is also easy to communicate when the coach is within the school system. He added that it is getting more difficult to find teachers to coach because they often have obligations after school. New teachers are often working on their master’s degrees, which they are required to earn within five years.
Haley sees coaches from all different angles. He said many work hard every day and care a great deal about the students. When asked if parents can help evaluate coaches, Haley politely declined, saying, “Parents have a small view of practice.” With a grin he added, “And I hear from parents all the time!”
Haley said that after scheduling the teams, there is not much time or space available for intramural sports. When reached later by e-mail, Haley said, “The only funds budgeted for intramural are the stipends for Fitness Room staff. We do try to open the gym when possible, but in the fall the volleyball teams and the cheerleading team use the gym after school. In the spring we will be starting a boys volleyball team as an intramural [offering].”
Some teams undertake fundraising, while others do not. The funds are used for expenses such as paying an assistant coach or purchasing uniforms or equipment. For example, the Friends of Football raised $4,000 to replace shirts and $10,000 to upgrade helmets. Haley said some teams go all out for their banquets, but he would prefer to see teams have pizza in the cafeteria, and he would pay for the custodians.
In contrast, the CCHS Booster Club uses funds for pins, letters, certificates and other recognition awards for all sports. The Booster Club may also use its funds for an ice machine in the Fitness Center, which all athletes can use.
There were questions about where all the money goes that is collected by the athletes. Haley said he would work on increasing transparency.
When asked why students in sports were still required to take gym classes, Haley replied, “They are separate entities. There is a health education component to physical education here.” He added, “Interaction with [students who have] different skill levels is beneficial. Gym classes are being cut back across the state to the detriment of kids.”
Students are required to take gym class during freshman, sophomore and junior years. Seniors not on a CCHS varsity team are required to complete 50 hours of independent exercise as part of a wellness program. Haley says, “The P.E. program is very good here.”
Besides his work at CCHS, Haley is currently the Boys North Division I, II and III and Girls State Division Ice Hockey Tournament Director and Eastern Massachusetts Boys Lacrosse Tournament Director. He serves on the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Directors. Haleywas recently awarded the 2008 District A Athletic Director of the Year.
Before coming to CCHS in September 2006, Haley worked as athletic director in the Wakefield Public Schools for 11 years, and prior to that worked in the Bedford and Malden Catholic Schools. âˆ†
© 2008 The