Bits & Pieces: Finding high school coaches might have gotten harder

Push might have just come to shove. Bill Ryan's Jan. 11 memo to elementary and middle school principals and assistant principals could be sending shivers down the backs of high school athletics and activities managers and more than a few high school coaches.

In his memo, Ryan, the school system's executive director for school improvement and administration, clearly states that elementary and middle school teachers who also coach at the high school level cannot leave their assigned schools to coach until their 7 hour, 35 minute contractual workday is over. (That time period extends before and after students are in the classroom.)

To leave early to get to a coaching job would constitute "double dipping." That is, being paid for two jobs at once.

The directive, which takes effect next school year, sounds innocent, but it could have a great impact on high school sports.

Currently there are 38 high school coaches affected — 10 work in elementary schools and 28 in the middle schools. Some coach more than one sport.

High school dismissal time is 2:10, practices begin by 3 and in the spring and fall, game times can be as early as 3:30. But if the coach is at a middle school that doesn't release its students until 3:15 p.m. or at an elementary school that goes until 3:55 p.m., you can see where the overlap occurs. It's impossible to be in two places at once.

Ryan's memo makes it clear that for elementary or middle school teacher/coaches, providing comp time, flex time or combining classes would constitute a violation of the current Howard County Education Association-negotiated agreement with the Howard County Board of Education.

"It's a tough situation," admits Mike Williams, the county's coordinator of athletics. "There are two sides. We would love to have as many teachers coach as possible, no matter what level they teach at. …But those teachers are responsible for teaching first."

Mike said accommodations can be made at the high school level. For example, start practice a little later or let the coach involved miss the first half hour. "We're also talking about other strategies that won't violate the negotiated agreement," he said.

"Coaching is an extension of what some educators do," said HCEA president Paul Lemle. "We hope that we can find some type of solution."

Zach Brown, NFL pick?

For decades, I've scanned a great many National Football League mock drafts. Recently, I noticed the name Zach Brown, from the University of North Carolina, pop up on many first-round lists.

This is the same Zach Brown who was a running back and linebacker under former coach Doug Duvall at Wilde Lake High School. As a senior at The Lake, Zach rushed for over 1,500 yards and made 90 solo tackles. He also posted a 29-0 wrestling record and won the Class 3A state title in the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash.

After Wilde Lake, Zach went to Hargrave Military Academy before going on to a stellar career at North Carolina.

"He is the most talented athlete I've ever coached," Doug said. "He was just a great kid."

Dine out for a good cause

The CoHo Grill at Hobbit's Glen golf course is sponsoring an evening Feb. 16, from 5 p.m. to closing, where the proceeds will go to a fundraiser for Marc and Erin Nesbitt. Marc has a rare form of brain tumor. Matt Nesbitt has put his brother's story online at Both brothers were soccer players at Wilde Lake, where their father, Dave, coached for many years.

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