Mike Fogarty is eager for the 2009-2010 high school basketball season to begin, and he’s not alone.
“I’m excited about it, and the kids are real excited about it, too,” said Fogarty, the boys varsity coach at Houlton High School. “As soon as soccer season ended, I started getting text messages from them asking when open gym was going to start.”
It wasn’t until this fall that Fogarty knew that he would be back with the Shiretowners, but thanks to an amendment to the Maine Principals’ Association Sport Season Policy, he’ll be able to coach both the high school boys team this winter and his daughter’s travel team next spring.
Under the amendment approved by the MPA’s Interscholastic Management Committee, a coach is now allowed to coach his or her high school son or daughter on an out-of-season team as long as there are no other athletes from his or her high school on the team or any opposing teams.
Fogarty has coached the Houlton boys varsity squad for the last three years, and he has coached his daughter Amanda’s travel team during the spring even longer.
But when Amanda entered Houlton High School as a freshman in the fall of 2008, for Fogarty to coach his daughter’s travel team became in violation of the MPA Sport Season Policy.
That policy limits high school coaches to coaching student-athletes from their school in a particular sport only during the MPA’s assigned season for that sport — which for basketball is between the date of the first preseason practice in mid-November and the last Saturday of tournament week during February vacation.
So while Fogarty did not coach his daughter’s high school team, because she played basketball at the same school where he coached the same sport he could not coach her in that sport out of season.
Fogarty appealed his case to the MPA, but when the appeal was denied he resigned his high school post so he could continue to coach his daughter.
The IMC did agree to review the policy at the time, and when Fogarty heard subsequent rumblings that a change might be coming, he eventually reapplied for the Houlton job.
His return to the boys varsity post ultimately became a reality thanks to an amendment that seems like a reasonable middle ground taken by the state’s governing body for interscholastic sports.
First, it retains the rationale behind the Sport Season Policy, which is to prevent coaches from coaching their high school teams beyond their designated seasons, thus freeing student-athletes from the pressure of any coach who might want a player to concentrate on a particular sport at the expense of other sports or activities.
But it also accommodates the parent-child relationship, so that a parent-coach and child-player can maintain the unique bond that can come through participating in sports — so long as there are no other players on the offseason team from the school where the player plays and the coach coaches during the interscholastic season.
One of the larger challenges within the educational community involves the gradual disconnect between many middle school and high school kids and their parents and how it affects the youngsters both in and out of the classroom. Here’s one small step for family values.
“The end result is that I’m able to coach,” said Fogarty, “and I’m able to still be involved with my daughter’s activities. The long and short of it is that I’m very happy, and now it’s time to put it behind us.”