The effects a pandemic can have on hiring coaches

Published 7:00 am Friday, May 1, 2020

Picayune School District Athletic Director Kristi Mitchell has been working during the COVID-19 pandemic to fill some vacant coaching positions with some programs making changes to prepare for next year.

Heidi Arthur and Jessica Smith were named co-coaches for the cheerleading program at the Picayune Maroon High School.

Mandy Feeley will be taking over the Pride of the Tide program at PMHS and within the Maroon Tide football staff several shifts occurred.

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The changes within the football program include the hiring of Tyler Smith to work with the defensive line and making Seth Hayden the new defensive coordinator.

Mitchell said the interviewing process that might’ve taken place in person previously now has to go online, due to social distancing guidelines and the safer at home order from Gov. Tate Reeves.

While moving to a new program represents its own challenges, doing so during a pandemic can add extra levels of difficulty since coaches can’t interact with their new athletes.

“I think anytime, as a coach, when you enter a new program there’s going to be a lot of new things to learn. You’re dealing with different personalities and making sure you’re following suit with what’s in place,” Mitchell said.

Now the coaches are having to adapt to their new roles without the normal ability to meet with the athletes and fellow staff members every day.     

Mitchell said that isn’t stopping the coaches from preparing for the eventual lift on restrictions.

The programs need to be ready to go when athletic activities are allowed to resume, so Mitchell said the coaches have been constantly working to make sure they’re prepared.

“They are ready to go when the time says they can go as they get new instructions from the MHSAA. As far as a time frame, they will adjust what they’re going to do. I’m sure they have plans on what to do with what is allowed,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said an important aspect when interviewing someone for a role is their work ethic.

They have to be willing to work for the betterment of their athletes and program, which is why a potential candidate’s work ethic is so important.

Mitchell said a coaching staff is similar to a family, so new coaches have to be able to adapt to the environment they’re entering.

“You have to understand sometimes there’s going to be more tension, sometimes more love and you have to know how to work with that. It’s a tight knit group with one goal in mind,” Mitchell said.

The coaches are not only in charge of an athlete’s performance on the field, but also in the classroom.

Mitchell said that finding a balance during the pandemic has been key in making sure the athletes are staying on track.

“I know all the coaches have been diligent about contacting athletes to make sure they’re turning in assignments to meet the MHSAA’s eligibility for next year. There’s been a lot of communication as far as that goes,” Mitchell said.