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  1. Pasco

Pasco schools require more training for sports coaches

Every year, Pasco County schools hire many new coaches for their sports teams. This fall, one high school has replaced 14 of nearly 50, for instance.

While the new hires might know their sport, they're not always familiar with all the things required of a school coaching job -- things like transfer rules, parent communication and player transportation.

To set them on the right path, the Pasco school district is now requiring all new coaches take an online course to cover these bases and more. It's one of the only such programs in Florida.

The goal, athletics supervisor Amy Lipovetsky said, is to ensure students get the best experience possible.

This course covers FHSAA rules and compliance issues, explains how to use the "positive coaching" model and how to explain rules and expectations to players and parents, among other lessons. It also covers the many responsibilities a coach assumes, including equipment purchasing and inventory, care of athletic injuries and eligibility reviews.

In its first weeks, Lipovetsky said the program has run well. "It's only been positive feedback."

It's also "about time," board member Cynthia Armstrong said.

She and other board members said they spend a lot of time on calls with parents complaining about athletics issues, often involving coaches. If such training were in place before now, board member Alison Crumbley said, "a number of things could have been avoided or prevented."

Superintendent Kurt Browning suggested this program, now only required for new coaches, might help with veterans, too.

"I think you can make the same mistakes as an older coach as you can as a new coach," Browning said.

Assistant superintendent Ray Bonti, who oversees athletics, said schools might require the course of struggling veteran coaches. Otherwise, he said, schools are recommending but not mandating it for those who have been around a while.

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