The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 16, 2010

CCHS Athletic Director Barry Haley fields parent questions

Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) Athletic Director Barry Haley is as enthusiastic as when he arrived at the high school four years ago. He has 23 years of experience in this job and says “I’ve died and gone to Concord-Carlisle.” Haley gave an overview of athletics at the high school and answered questions in an evening program on April 6 sponsored by the CCHS Parents Association.

“I believe there are lessons of life that are learned nowhere else but on the athletic field, being part of a team, working collaboratively, working for someone, working toward a common goal . . . Participation is the key. If you’re involved in it, you’re going to grow and learn from it. The community supports our kids and what we do. We have a very high standard of what we believe in here. Every one of our teams does something to give back to the community in a significant way and that’s the most valuable lesson they can learn.” For example, Haley noted that the soccer team plays a benefit game to raise money for breast cancer, Kicks for Cancer.

Haley noted that close to 800 different students participate out of the 1,250 enrolled in the school. Many athletes participate in multiple sports during the year.

“Our program goal is to enable as many students as possible to participate in athletics” and have an opportunity to benefit from team membership. Haley said other goals include: acquiring athletic skills, improving conditioning, developing appropriate attitudes towards competition, sportsmanship and self-discipline.

“We have a great group of coaches here,” he said. “Our job here is academics. Sometimes I have to remind them of that,” Haley said with a grin. There are 56 teams at CCHS and 31 varsity sports. There are 62 coaches, 35 who are CCHS or Concord Public School teachers. He said CCHS was fortunate to have teachers comprise over half the coaches and said that this helps considerably with communication and student-teacher interactions. “It’s a real benefit to the kids.”

“We’ve had tremendous success here,” said Haley. He is proud that CCHS won the Dual County League Sportsmanship Award for several seasons, earning the respect of their opponents. Haley went on to mention the many teams that won the Dual County League, state qualifying matches and state meets in the fall, winter and last spring.

Haley mentioned athletic facilities. “I am very excited about the Master Plan that has a field house and a gym.” He said the winter schedule is the hardest to manage, trying to get 11 teams into two small gyms. He also loves the idea of having an indoor track so students wouldn’t need to go into Boston for meets. Currently, the winter track athletes run outside most days. He noted that the Beede Center is a terrific asset for the swim and dive teams. Also, “we are really seeing the benefit of the new artificial turf fields in the last three weeks. Our teams have been on the field every single day,” even in the pouring rain. He said that having practice time early in the spring is a real benefit to the teams.

Athletic fees, donations

augment budget

Haley is the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) President. The MIAA is the governing body for high school athletics in this state. “I get global perspective.” He explains that towns across the Commonwealth are having the same issues of dwindling budgets, aging staff and the need to bring in outside coaches.

Haley said the school supports the budget up to $460,000. The coaches’ salaries make up the largest part of the budget, $335,800. Transportation costs $55,000. He said that transportation costs were kept lower because the regional school district owns its own buses and complimented Transportation Manager Manley Boyce for doing a wonderful job, regretting his upcoming retirement.

Haley explained that athletic fees had been raised from $125 per sport to $200 per sport last year to handle a $100,000 budget cut to athletics. There is a $600 maximum per family. He said that CCHS fees fall in the middle of the range when compared to surrounding towns. He said some schools have a $1,200 family limit. CCHS skiers “pay for their own mountain and/or cross-country ski season passes which saves the school a considerable amount of money.”

“The one that amazes me the most,” he said, “is Tyngsboro, who charges $500 for the first sport, $400 for the second and $300 for the third with no family cap and a $750 additional charge for hockey.” Haley said Tyngsboro will be dropping out of the league next year. He cited the fact that they won only 17% of the games in the last two years, attributing this to the high fees which lead to limiting athletes participating in the program.

CCHS users’ fees bring in $136,000. Gate receipts are $25,000. Haley said, “I hate to charge parents to come watch their children play.” Donations amount to $29,000. “It’s amazing the donations we get.”

Haley then opened the discussion for questions.

Q: What do you look for in a coach?

A: I look for adults that are student-centered, folks that understand 17-year-olds. They need to focus on the experience the kids have.

Q: What oversight of kids do coaches have during the day?

A: A lot is expected of these kids. “It’s important that the kids know the coaches care about their academics. That’s why they are here. Their job is to be a student.”

Q: Why can’t kids get a waiver for Physical Education class?

A: “It’s a subject for debate. Health and Fitness is different here. There’s yoga, orienteering and life-saving. There’s the Senior Wellness Project. It’s not a bad balance.”

Q: How often do students practice?

A: “Most teams practice six days a week.” Haley said, “Weekend practices are optional, but there is no such thing as ‘optional practices.’” On the other hand, he said that some Saturday morning practices have moved to late Sunday afternoons so students can sleep in on Saturday mornings. “Coaches here understand there are family things. Not only are kids multi-sport athletes, they are multi-activity athletes.” Kids are involved in drama and music. He noted the large number of kids going to Japan with the band.

“It’s one of the real transitions for kids coming from middle school where teams practice once or twice a week. Here, it’s every day.”

Q: When do sports start next fall?
A: Varsity and JV Football start on Monday, August 23. Most other fall sports start on Thursday, August 26. Haley said one of his difficulties was getting the information out as to when fall sports practices start. He said it is understood that some students may not be at practice due to family vacations.

Q: What assurance can you give that there will not be retribution on the student if a parent complains about a sports program?

A: Haley said, “I have much more faith in myself and our coaches that we wouldn’t do that.” He said that ideally, the protocol to resolve issues should be that first the student and the coach should talk. “This is where the issue is and this is where it can be resolved. We should be teaching our kids to advocate for themselves. Second is the communication between the parents and the coach. And I found here in four years, CC parents have an excellent perspective on where athletics should be in student’s life, Haley said, adding, “Lastly, parents talk to me all the time.” He said that most of the time parents have incomplete facts, but some of the time they are absolutely right. “It bothers me that parents feel they can’t have that discussion.”

Q: Do you cut students from sports teams?

A: Haley said, “My philosophy is not to cut.” He said he hates to see kids cut, particularly freshmen. It’s not a good way to start their high school careers. He explained that a lot of teams just can’t accommodate an unlimited number of athletes, pointing out that only five kids of a team are on a basketball court at a time. Cuts are based on skill ability. “We try to have multiple sports each season that don’t cut,” such as the cross-country running and ski teams.

“There are 170 students on the Track and Field Team. We cut last year. It was a safety issue.” Haley said he was able to add two coaches who are teachers this year, for a total of six.

Q: What is the role of the coach getting an athlete into college?

A: The key role of the coach is to identify athletes. Haley said, “A number of kids go on to play college athletics, very few of them on scholarships.” He thinks Division III athletic experience is the best. He said CCHS kids go to NESCAC schools, (New England Small College Athletic Conference which includes Bates, Bowdoin, Williams, Colby, Tufts, Middlebury, Hamilton, etc.) “It’s athletics in perspective.” Haley advises kids who want to go to Division I schools to pay attention to their academics. He added that “Division I athletics is a job.”

Q: How many high schools have fencing teams?

A: CCHS is the only public high school that has fencing.

Q: Will ultimate Frisbee be added as a team sport?

A: Haley does not see adding any sports and hopes not to cut any. He said Frisbee is a unique program growing in the state. It is just becoming an organized sport.

Q: How much input did you have for the CCHS Facilities Master Plan athletic center/field house?

A: Haley said he had a lot of input in the CCHS Facilities Master Plan design of the field house. He has been in a lot of athletic facilities across the state. He sees the indoor track and fitness rooms being used by the community. Haley said that while well maintained, the current gym facilities are not the best. “It’s four feet from the end of the basketball court to the cement wall. The standard is ten feet. People have to walk on the court to get into the bleachers.”

Q: There were 60 kids on the cross-country ski team and only one coach. Can you add another coach?

A: Haley explained that there are a number of teams that would benefit from additional coaches. Last year there was a substantial cut to the athletic budget. “I hope to maintain my budget this year.” He said generally booster groups support extra coaches. The athletic budget makes up 1.5 - 2.5% of the total regional school district budget.

[Note: Besides being the CCHS Athletic Director, Haley is the tournament director for the North Boys Ice Hockey, the State Girls Ice Hockey and the Eastern Mass. Lacrosse teams. He says, “I like running events.”]

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