Difficult decision to quit coaching

By Jim MacKay August 14, 2009 01:04 pm

This letter is in response to the Opinion letter in the Aug. 12 Observer by John Deal. While everyone deserves to have an opinion on anything they want, Mr. Deal chooses to mislead the public and to smear my name in the process. Until that letter came out I had never heard of John Deal let alone known him well enough to have that kind of conversation with him.

It is important that the public be made aware of the misleading statements. First, the district has been forward and upfront with the public about all cuts made. Had he or anyone else contacted me a very different picture would be seen than the one that he painted.

Since taking the position as supervisor I have put in a minimum 40 hours a week doing maintenance work. This has included coming in on days off and weekends to see that things get done. The supervisory part is on top of my current work load, and yes many hours have been put into that as well. The on-call consists of being available 24 hours a day 365 days a year. This is to respond to any emergency that occurs after hours, on weekends or holidays. It may surprise you just how often we are called in through the course of a year’s time.

The other part that really needs to be responded to is the part about my decision to quit coaching. This was one of the hardest decisions of my life. I consider the name “coach” second only to that of “Dad” in honor. I have more than 20 years as a high school and college basketball coach. As a coach you put in countless hours that you are never compensated for. You do continuing education to keep up with changes in your sport and you are available to your players and their parents at all time no matter whether you are in season or not. This in not to mention the many years that I put in as a Little League and AAU basketball coach as a volunteer as so many in this community have. The rewards are not financial. But, as anyone who has done this knows, they are boundless and will touch not only your heart but your entire life if you get to know the kids.

No one is a greater advocate of sports in this community than I am. The insinuation that I place a “cushy job” over it is extremely offensive. In order to be transparent I will let everyone know why I resigned as the girls basketball coach. Yes the new responsibilities require so many hours that it would have been almost impossible for me to continue. The second reason is my personal health. I was recently diagnosed with cancer as so many people have been these days.

I have to consider my health, the treatment options, and time with my family. It literally tore me up to make that decision as it is my youngest daughter’s senior year and I won’t be there to coach her. I will be in the stands with all the rest of you supporting not only her but all of our athletes, win or lose.

If Mr. Deal or anyone else wants to actually talk to me and ask me what I really do, what my job position entails or my qualifications for the job, then they are welcome to ask and I will answer openly and honestly.


Jim MacKay is a La Grande resident.