Administrative Tips for New Coaches

                                 Administrative Tips on Coaching Track/CC within Knox County, TN
by Patty Thewes of Bearden High School

When asked what would be helpful information for a new coach, I recalled my own situation as a new coach in Knoxville, TN—I was pretty comfortable with the actual coaching part, but all the “ins and outs” specific to the Knoxville area, not so much.

You may be fortunate to have someone within your school that can assist and guide you with the specifics of coaching Cross Country/Track in Knoxville area, which is awesome.  If not, hopefully some of these tips will help save you some time and energy.

Please note these tips are based on my specific experience. Experiences and policies may vary school to school, and TSSAA policies may change.  Review TSSAA Web Site and your school for current policies and procedures prior to the start of your season each year.

1.  TSSAA

  • Visit the TSSAA website and review information for updated policies and procedures
  • Complete the Coaches Education Requirements and forms (ex. Coach’s concussion form) and have your assistants do, as well.
  • Submit your Meet Schedule and Team Roster by TSSAA deadline

Prior to adding an athlete to your roster, the athlete’s eligibility needs to be verified by your school/AD and added to your school-eligible student-athlete list on the TSSAA web site.  Be sure to allow time for this to be completed before the deadline.  Once your roster is submitted, you cannot remove a student-athlete, but you can add one after your initial roster has been submitted.  An athlete cannot compete for your school unless he/she meets TSAA eligibility requirements and is listed on your roster.

When added to the roster, he/she can’t compete in track meets/races outside of your high school competition.  If you have an athlete finishing up indoor track season, he/she cannot be on your roster until after he/she is done with indoor meets.  This includes local road races as well, if they are of the same distance during Track (3200M and below) or Cross Country (5K) season.  For example, since in CC, the distance is a 5K, the student-athlete can NOT compete in a community 5k race once on your school’s CC Roster submitted to the TSSAA.

When I’ve had questions or need clarity on any TSSAA policy I contacted one of the below resources.  Both are awesome, and always willing to clarify, so don’t be afraid to ask!

Richard McWhirter (Asst. TSSAA Executive Director) rmcwhirter@tssaa.org

Bryan Brown (TACA Track Committee and HVA Head Coach)  bryan.brown@knoxschools.org

2. TN Runner:  
Most (although not all) of the TN area meets are posted on tn.milesplit.com for you to enter your student-athletes.

  • Follow instructions on site to set yourself up as team manager, and revise and update information at the start of each new season.  Follow the site’s direction to update coaches. Also, update your roster so that you can enter your student-athletes in meets.
  • Pay the extra to be a subscriber and get access to stats.  It’s worth it!
  • Most of the meets have deadlines several days before meet.  Deadlines vary, so be sure to check the Meet Information page for deadlines and other important meet information.
  1. Setting your Meet Schedule.
  • Look at the previous year’s TN Runner calendar to get a good idea of the meets available and approximately when they will fall each year.  Note the word “approximately.” Although meets tend to fall around the same date each year, this can always change.
  • Send an email to Don Madgett (madgett@knoxschools.org as soon as you are hired to get on the Knox County coaches email list.  Once on this list, you’ll get the information going out to the area coaches including dates of upcoming meets.
  • Track Schedule: For the past several years, the Monday after the Cross Country State Meet, there has been a Track Meet Scheduling Meeting.  During this Meeting a lot of the Local Home Meets are established.  Basically, some general information is discussed at the beginning of meeting and it’s open for coaches to meet with each other.  Bring a calendar; know the big invites you plan to attend, and the dates you would like to attend or plan to host a meet. Once the meeting is open, reach out to others to secure your schedule.
  • Cross Country Schedule:   The Metro Knox Coaches host most of the local CC Meets.   They get together in early summer to set The Metro Knox CC Meets.  If you are on the coaches email list, you should get notice of when these meets will be.
  1. Establishing Team Communication 
  • Collect parents’ emails and cell numbers for student-athletes immediately. Create data bases—it’s time consuming, but worth it!
  • Establish your own school email.  I have a Knox County email address, although I’m not a teacher at school.  With Knox County , you can create group email lists, and can send out emails to an entire team of parents.
  • Student-athletes tend to not read email but do text and tweet. In general, I group-text my girls and boys teams separately.
  1. Establish Team Guidelines
  • Seek input and approval from all your assistant coaches.  Guidelines are most effective when all coaches share same team philosophy and consistently support each other in this effort.  Before sending out important information to my team, I send information to all assistant coaches for their input and approval.  Your school athletic department may already have an overall philosophy/guidelines to incorporate into your own team into your own.
  1. Uniforms. 
  • There are local reps for various brands. I highly suggest contacting any local track/CC coach for feedback on his/her experience with the various reps before getting tied into a specific rep/brand for years.  It is pretty pricey to change entire uniforms year to year. Most schools keep their uniform for several years, so it’s important to start with a company that will be great to work with over the years.
  • Check expiration date for style of uniform.  You’ll have to replenish some uniforms each year, so you definitely want to make sure that the style you initially order will be available for years to come.
  • Order for the season ahead so you have the uniforms in time for the start of the season.  For example, I ordered track unifrorms in November for Spring Track Season.  Often popular sizes/items become backordered the closer you get to the season.
  1. Transportation:
  • Complete and submit Knox County Schools Trip Approval Form prior to each season. Be sure to include all off campus meets and all off campus activities and practices, as well.  It takes about 3 weeks to get approved once submitted.
  • Arrange bus transportation if that is how you want your team to get to meets. My team meets at the Track/Cross Country meets and they are responsible for their own transportation—that helps with our budget.
  1. Budget.
  • With my school, and I’m assuming other Knoxville schools, you are responsible for covering the costs of your program.  When establishing your Team Fee, make sure you cover your operational expenses:
    • $40 for insurance on each athlete( TSSAA)
    • Entrance Fees per Meets. They vary–local meets can be as low as $50 and other bigger meets $100-$200.
    • Uniforms
    • Team Banquet and other team bonding activities
    • Team Awards: Although there are a variety of trophy suppliers, I use Branden’s Engraving (865-588-2211)–and they are great! Depending on the team awards you want, the cost will vary.
    • Transportation costs to meets.
    • Out of Town Travel costs (lodging, meals, etc.). Check with your school accountant prior to the season to know budgeted amounts and procedures for reimbursement. You may end up taking just a few athletes from your team to some meets.  With our team, I have a clause in my team guidelines that states student-athletes may have to pay additional fees if attending state and other out of town meets.
    • Unforeseen expenses–there will always be some so plan accordingly.
    • Estimate all your costs prior to the season and make sure you set your team fee to cover them.

  • Equipment upkeep and replacement: Within the past 4 years, my team has replaced pretty much all of our equipment/apparatus–including the high jump, pole vault, and long jump pits, discus cage/ring and hurdles. We have reached out for donations in a variety of ways including applying for grants and putting on an annual 5K Fundraising Run…
  • Some schools have one booster club for the whole athletic department–the last school I coached at had this. but at my current Knoxville school, each sport is solely responsible for all costs required to sustain their program.

While certainly all the above tips cannot address everything that may come up, I hope it helps.  For further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at patty.thewes@knoschools.org.

Coach Thewes is a former collegiate triple jumper and hurdler.   She is a two time NJCAA National qualifier in triple jump and former Triple Jump Record Holder at Cleveland State University (D1 school in Cleveland, Ohio). Post-college, Coach Thewes, despite being the fast twitched type, discovered love of distance running.  She has trained and participated in numerous races from 5Ks to marathons.

Coach Thewes has a BS in Physical Education and Masters in Athletic Administration. As part of her Masters, she focused on athletic performance, with her thesis being on plyometric training for improved speed/power performance.  Her first coaching experience was at Normandy High School (Ohio) over 20 years ago!  Since then, she has been involved in Athletic Administration, teaching sports and wellness (K-higher education as Adjunct Professor at Xavier University), and coaching Track/Cross Country.  She has coached numerous student-athletes on to all-state status and state titles.