As it continued preparation for the 2011 Pacific Games, the Guam National Olympic Committee (GNOC) recognized that getting its nominated coaches certified was a must before the U.S. territory’s teams headed off to New Caledonia in August. Fortunately for GNOC’s Kelly Blas, she knew help from the American Sport Education Program, an education program at Human Kinetics, was just a phone call away. And soon after speaking with ASEP assistant director Jerry Reeder, Dr. Jim Krob (with his 43 years of coaching experience) was on his way from Hays, Kansas, to the western Pacific island nearly 7,000 miles away.
Krob, a highly recognized track and field coach and an assistant professor at Fort Hays State University in Kansas, has been teaching ASEP’s Coaching Principles course and certifying coaches since 1988. For 30 years, local, state, and national sport organizations have partnered with ASEP to lead the way in making sport a safe, successful, and enjoyable experience for all involved. “I was pleased and flattered to be considered for the assignment and accepted Jerry’s offer,” Krob says. “I’ll admit I was challenged, yet looked forward to working with an Olympic organization.” As it turns out, the 23-hour flights to and from Guam were the only things he had to worry about.
The training, which covered both Coaching Principles and the Sport First Aid course, helped certify four future instructors for GNOC in a short time. Despite the time constraints and the rush of getting the training established, Krob thinks that the coaches he worked with were very attentive, interested, and cooperative. He hopes it will enable other coaches on the island to be instructed and certified, which should result in more efficient and knowledgeable coaching for the athletes. Blas considered the training to be a great success. “Jim was a fountain of knowledge and experience to pull from,” she says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.”
In the short term, the training fulfills an Olympic requirement that any coach who works with a team must be certified by a coaching organization. These new instructors should also be able to keep the ASEP courses active and available to all levels of coaching on the island. Guam has seven high schools, a number of recreational sports, and, of course, the Olympic programs. “I hope that our newly certified instructors will be able to keep the coaches out in the community certified,” Blas comments. “We want educated and knowledgeable coaches teaching and mentoring our young athletes as well as our national team athletes.”
Krob points out that although the individuals trained in Guam were already highly specialized and qualified in their specific sport skills, many of them had not yet been exposed to general coaching techniques and procedures. He’s hopeful that the material presented in Coaching Principles and Sport First Aid will help them be better prepared to work with their athletes. Blas concurs, mentioning how getting GNOC’s coaches certified helps to give them some formal education and training in their volunteer positions, one of the first steps in preventing injury.
“Coaching an individual or team requires much more than just knowledge of the sport skills,” Krob adds. “The ASEP coaching courses cover coaching knowledge from the psychological, physiological, methodological, and management points of view. This should have a very positive long-term effect on athletics in Guam. The GNOC staff, especially Kelly Blas, was very accommodating, organized, and enthusiastic with our venture. I believe the ASEP program will be in good hands.”
Since Krob’s whirlwind trip to Guam in March, the Guam National Olympic Committee has already had four other coaches take and pass the tests. The committee had plans to host another coaching course in May. The 14th Pacific Games are set for August 27 through September 10, and Guam is among the 22 nations or U.S. territories competing. “I am so appreciative of Jerry Reeder’s tireless efforts in getting an ASEP instructor to Guam,” Blas says. “It was overall a successful course.”
ASEP playing a key role in the Keystone State
Back in the United States, ASEP is helping the Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association (PSADA) realize their goal of training 100 instructors across the state. Pennsylvania does not currently require coach education, but PSADA is hoping this initiative will convince superintendents to embrace the benefits of teaching Coaching Principles. During a March conference, 25 new instructors were trained and, according to PSADA executive director Bob Buckanavage, they are already starting to see the results of that effort. The Philadelphia school district has contacted his office and is very interested in working with PSADA to provide ASEP training to their coaches from the middle and high school levels this fall. Similarly, the department of recreation wants to meet and discuss coaching education opportunities.
“PSADA is committed to providing the leadership for coaching education in our schools,” says Buckanavage of this part of their 2009-14 strategic plan. “We feel we have made significant progress in the first two years toward achieving this strategic goal. We will strive to provide the answer to the question ‘If coaches train kids, who trains the coaches?’”