Full-Time Status Benefits Coaches and Students
• With the recent promotion of two head coaches to full-time status, WPI’s roster of full-time coaches now includes almost all sports (the only exception is cross-country, which is under the umbrella of track and field), says Charles “Rusty” Eggen, WPI’s associate athletic director and sports information director.
Recent years have seen promotions of several head coaches to full-time status, bringing several benefits to student athletes and coaches alike. Full-time coaches are on campus all day, can monitor students’ academic performance, teach WPI’s physical education classes, and take on more responsibility with events and groups like the Poly Club, WPI’s athletic alumni group.
“This helps in multiple ways,” says Eggen. “The immediate benefit is being able to see the student athletes during the day.” Having full-time coaches, instead of head coaches who often balance other professional commitments with their coaching, keeps WPI aligned with other schools with similar athletic and academic programs, he says.
Accessibility is a big plus for current students, but also helps recruitment efforts. When prospective students stop in to see WPI and talk about a sport they want to play, the coaches are now more available to meet them during normal daytime hours instead of trying to fit a meeting in among other commitments.
Full-time coaches are also faculty members and each coach teaches at least one physical education class. With enrollment at WPI up and a mandatory physical education requirement, having enough faculty to teach is important, says Eggen. Coaches often teach a class in their own field, but may also teach other classes, which introduces them more students.
Brian Kelley, WPI’s newly promoted full-time men’s soccer coach, says instead of only seeing students during the intense 90-minute soccer practices, he now has the ability and the time to get to know his players and other students, as well. “I get to see the players and they get to see me in an everyday setting,” says Kelley. The more casual interactions help with overall communication and build respect. Students observe Kelley in a more professional setting, and he sees the rigors of their academic environment.
Kelley enjoys teaching soccer to students who don’t play on his teams but who enjoy the sport. “It’s really genuine,” says Kelley, and he says it helps promote the academic mission of living a healthy lifestyle.
FIFTH SEASON FOR HALL
Steve Hall’s new promotion kicks off his first year as a full-time wrestling coach, but his fifth season leading the team. Hall says the new status gives him more opportunities to be with his team and to meet new students.
As a WPI alum, Hall’s new duties with the Poly Club give him the opportunity to reach out to alumni and represent his alma mater at the same time. But his additional teaching of racquetball and squash give him a new perspective of current student athletes. “I like being with the students,” he says, noting that the casual atmosphere of classes is enjoyable for everyone.
Full-time coaches are also responsible for event management tasks. For instance, they can avoid scheduling games and late practices during certain registration periods, and they act as representatives during other games, says Eggen. As full-time coaches, they make sure officials at games have what they need, ensure the scoreboard is working properly, and check on the fans.
For the coaches, the new responsibilities make them more involved and more a part of WPI’s day-to-day rhythm. “I get to give back to WPI in a general way,” says Hall, “and I am really having a blast.”