Spencer proposes changes to Purdy athletics

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Coaches' handbook, logo, recognition offers more consistency

A handbook for coaches in the Purdy school district, a framework for evaluating the extracurricular athletic program, has been adopted by the Purdy school board as proposed by Alan Spencer, who is serving a one-year stint as the district's athletic director, coming out of retirement after many years at the Monett district.

The handbook, Spencer said, provides a structure for the athletic program overall and a list of expectations for evaluating a coach's performance. The district previously had no comparable document.

"Look at the job descriptions, through assistant coaches," Spencer said. "This puts it all in place. When you evaluate them, they have the guidelines of what's expected, such as equipment and handling kids. This will lead to an evaluation tool, how you do with practices, uniforms and supporting policies of the board. You can let a coach evaluate himself first. This tells what we perceive and gives them guidance if there is a deficiency.

"As an evaluator, a lot is how do we perceive it. Like a lot of things, if it's not broke, you're doing a good job. If a coach is struggling, I can give guidance that can help so you're not backed in a corner."

Spencer used the handbook to outline procedures for going to events that can apply broadly to other extracurricular activities. For example, before a trip, the coach is instructed to turn in a list of all students involved two days in advance to the school office, helping teachers who will see the list to identify any work needed in that absence, as well as organizing permission slips.

"We can give this to anyone coming in, particularly young coaches," Spencer said. "We want to protect them so they don't have a major foul-up or get put in tough spots. This is a tool that gives us a basis from which to go from."

Under the handbook, coaches will issue reports on their programs, which Spencer, as athletic director, will evaluate and place on file. The handbook also offered a framework to track a gifted athlete's academic progress for adequate preparation for a potential NCAA scholarship.

"We don't want someone to go through the program and have potential to go on and not achieve it," Spencer said. "We want them to be able to go anywhere they want. We need to do this in their sophomore year. It's hard to catch up as a junior or senior."

Spencer noted the district lacked a standardized certificate to issue to students who letter in a sport. Administrative assistant Susan Funkhouser drafted a version for consideration. Similar certificates could be used for music and academics.

The district lacks consistency in several ongoing practices, Spencer noted, such as having a recognition night for each sport. The eagle logo used presented a significant issue, as several versions have been in use. Spencer noted since the district plans to buy new uniforms soon, a decision needed to be made on which one to use. One, Spencer noted, is very similar to the Boston College eagle, a copyrighted image that would require modifications for future use.

Such an issue has surfaced in other schools, such as Webb City using the St. Louis Cardinals mascot. Spencer recalled one year Webb City switched and fell under the scrutiny of the Louisville Cardinals, and got out of the problem by adding two feathers. Since Purdy uses a company to market school products, the district needs to have a consistent face to place before the public.

Spencer used an earlier version of the handbook that he developed in Monett. He indicated a few modifications might be in order as the coaches involved review each page.

Superintendent Steven Chancellor praised Spencer's contribution as an interim athletic director.

"He's been worth every penny," Chancellor said. "He's brought a lot of stability this year. It's been a good arrangement."

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