SHERIDAN — Most high school coaches don’t coach full time; they work as teachers and lead athletic teams as a second job, putting in extra hours before and after school, late at night and on the weekends. Having a supportive family and community has proven vital for coaches to perform at the highest level.
Janelle Manore lives in Sheridan with her husband, Matt, and their two kids, a 2-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter. Manore teaches math at Tongue River High School and is the head coach of the volleyball team. She said without the support of her husband, she would not be able to coach. Manore even jokes during volleyball season, her husband operates as a single father.
Brent Moore teaches physical education at Sheridan Junior High School, coaches the boys and girls swim teams and oversees the swimming club in Sheridan. Moore’s wife coaches the junior high school cross-country team. With both coaches busy after school, the Moores found they had to multitask; luckily practices were close enough together that their children could bounce between the track and the pool at the junior high.
As their children become older, they become more independent, Moore said, requiring less constant supervision. Independence also comes with children joining their own activities. During the fall when Moore and his wife are both busy with practices after school, the children have their own youth sports practices.
This is where having a solid support group helps, Moore said.
DJ Dearcorn is the defensive coordinator for the Sheridan High School football team. Dearcorn said it is pretty common that his children and the other football coaches’ children are watched by one of their wives.
Coaches spend at least three to five hours a day during the work week involved with athletics. During the weekends, coaches travel across Wyoming for events, often spending the entire day away from their families. Dearcorn said coaching requires sacrifices on the part of the families, not just the coaches.
Spending time away makes setting aside time for their own families even more important, the coaches said. SHS Activities Director Don Julian, who recently retired from coaching the Sheridan Broncs football team after a career of coaching, said coaches with children make sure they spend time with their families whenever they have a chance.
For example, Moore said family dinners allow his loved ones to come together and focus on each other. The 30 minutes of connection can go a long way to help the family stay in touch.
Dearcorn said he has the advantage of working in the private sector, where his daily schedule has more flexibility than coaches who work at schools. He will take the time to go eat lunch with his children at their school and spend those 20 or 30 minutes with them there.
Coaches will also have their children join in some team events or show up at practices. The wives and children of the football coaches are at every team dinner on Thursday nights, Julian said.
Dearcorn said the coaches’ children will also show up to the end of some practices and spend the final 30 minutes with the team.
Manore said during the summer, her children will be at camps, open gyms and summer lifting sessions. Before games, her son will sit in the volleyball basket and toss balls to the players while her daughter helps shag balls. Her children are little gym rats, she joked.
Julian said he does not see any harm in having children around during practices. As long as safety is maintained and coaches are able to focus on their athletes, there is no reason why children cannot be playing with a ball in the corner of the gym or running around the track during practices.
Coaches’ children and athletes see benefits from the experience, too. Moore said the amount of athletic knowledge his children have picked up from just being around sports all the time is impressive. They already understand nuances some high schoolers are trying to learn.
Dearcorn said it is important for the athletes to see the coaches as more than just coaches. Interacting with their own children in front of the athletes allows the players to see that coaches are people too and it teaches the importance of family. Dearcorn’s children also see him operate in a leadership role. He can set a good example for his players and his children.
Julian said the players also end up adopting and mentoring coaches’ children. Children look up to the high school athletes and players gain experience as role models for the next generation.
Manore said she gains 20 babysitters during home games. Manore’s husband and children attend most of home games, where junior varsity players will often watch the children.
Even with the planning and flexibility in schedules, there are limitations to how much time a person can spend away from their family. Julian said each coach needs to find how they balance work, family and coaching. For some, they might take a step back.
Moore said he has already reduced the number of camps and conferences he attends during the year. When it was just he and his wife, it was easier to spend a week away, but with two children, it does not make as much sense to spend that much time away from family.
Manore said she might consider coaching more sports than volleyball in the future, but right now, while her children are younger, volleyball is more than enough.
Dearcorn said he is very family-oriented and wants to make sure he is present at all of his children’s activities. At least one of his parents was at every one of his activities all the way through his college days. He wants to provide the same support to his children. That might mean reducing his coaching responsibilities in the future.
While coaches face challenges in time management and balance, they all cope in different ways and find comfort and support in family.