HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: New head coaches dealing with issues in putting together staff

With the start of fall workouts less than three weeks away, filling staff openings have been a stressor for many coaches across the state of Texas.

Some of the area’s newest head football coaches are dealing with the issues of rounding out their staffs before Aug. 1.

From talking to other coaches in Texas, Fort Stockton coach Jeremy Hickman said making new hires can be described as an “epidemic”.

“It’s kind of been that way for the last couple of years, but it really has come into fruition this year,” Hickman said. “I don’t necessarily know if it’s just people getting out of the profession or what the actual root of the cause is.

“It’s just hard to get people hired right now.”

Hickman took over the athletic director and head football coaching position at Fort Stockton in May after former coach Mike Peters announced his return to Saginaw.

The new Panther coach is still looking to hire a couple of defensive assistants after making seven new hires.

He believes issues like costs of living and salaries might be playing a role in how many people want to go into the high school coaching profession.

Hickman said Fort Stockton ISD has also set up packages to help bring newer teachers and educators into its schools.

“I think it’s just about getting that information in front of them saying, ‘Look, we know that West Texas is out here, but we’re offering to pay some pretty good money if you’ll come out here,’” Hickman said. “I’m not saying that it’s a lot of money, but it’s good money to come out here and work with good kids.”

Nate Gensler, Kermit’s new head football and athletic director, has been going through the struggles of bringing coaches to his program.

He said inflation is part of the problem affecting hiring, but he also believes COVID had lasting effects on younger graduates looking to get into the education field.

He added that things have changed since he started coaching 20 years ago, when candidates had a tough time getting into roles, even if they were fully certified.

Gensler still has three openings on his football staff, with those hires also handling head baseball, assistant baseball and assistant basketball coaching duties.

The Kermit coach plans on using the THSCA Coaching School to seek out other coaches.

The annual conference is scheduled to take place July 17-19 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio.

“Back in the day 20 years ago, you’d go to coaching school, there’d be a million guys in there looking for jobs and not very many people hiring,” Gensler said. “Now, there’s going to be a whole bunch of us trying to hire a couple of guys, so that’s going to be different.”

Crane ISD was in a different situation, as it was left looking for a new head football coach/athletic director when Jeff Cordell moved to Sherman to be closer to family.

They filled that spot with a familiar hire in Michael Pittman, who recently spent 10 years in Post.

Because his hire happened so fast, Pittman is still getting into the process of evaluating how the situation will look for his new coaching staff.

He feels confident that things are going to go well on the hiring front for the Golden Cranes.

Pittman said networking is one of the most important aspects in getting new applicants situated with hiring coaches.

“I’ve had coaches that I’ve worked with send me messages asking if I know of any applicants, or anybody looking for a job,” Pittman said. “I think it’s all over the state.

“I don’t know what the answer is, but I think it’s something that’s definitely a little scary for the coaching and education profession right now.”

>> Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya