Coaches who never played the sport they coach

Cheerleaders huddle together during a competition. Credit: Mylani Rivera.

By Ariana Lopez ’18

The concept of ‘coaching’ is often associated with guidance and experience. Coaching, as defined by, is “a process that aims to improve performance and focuses on the ‘here and now’ rather than on the distant past or future. Sports coaching is most prevalent at Pritzker, which is when a teacher that is an expert or has become in a sport offers to guide the team. But what if the coach(es) had little to no experience?

 This is not uncommon here at Pritzker.  Andrew Wetmore, PE teacher, JV Basketball coach, and Baseball coach, began coaching the JV Boys’ Basketball team just this year without having played while he was in high school. Wetmore stepped up for the role after a need was expressed. He stated, “I decided to coach because Mr. Rychlik needed somebody to coach and I figured it would be a fun [opportunity].” Wetmore, who allegedly tried out for his high school basketball team twice and didn’t make the team, coached his best throughout the morning practices and Saturday games.

Michael Barcenas, a sophomore on the JV Boys’ Basketball team, felt very confident in Wetmore’s coaching skills as a new coach, stating, “I feel like he’s a great coach because he has a lot of patience with the team.” Barcenas even believes that he was “pushed to [his] best throughout the season.”

Another coach who hadn’t taken part in the sport they coach was Sarah Cross, Cheerleading coach and P.E. teacher. Cross was never a cheerleader in high school because she spent her time focusing in synchronised swimming and wasn’t “particularly interested in cheerleading at the time.” Cross explained that her interest in cheerleading began to develop when she realized that most of her hobbies, like partaking in a circus, were similar to cheerleading. While Cross doesn’t necessarily regret not joining cheerleading, stating she was “very happy as a synchronized swimmer,” she did believe it hindered her ability as a coach. Angel Franco, a senior on the cheer team, stated that he believes that Cross is a good coach for the team.

Both coaches have expressed that they were at some sort at disadvantage having not played that specific sport. However, in terms of growth, both coaches also felt as if they grew. Wetmore stated that he “is really happy” with his progress as a coach. Along those lines, Cross also saw growth within her abilities, acknowledging that Pallardy, also coach of the cheer team, was a great help and motivation.

Overall, Wetmore and Cross expressed feeling very content with their individual teams and their contribution to the team. For first time coaches, it is important to remember that it is going to be a struggle initially. As Wetmore said, “Coaching is a lot of work, but it can also be very rewarding. Be ready to dedicate a lot of time to watching videos and reading up on techniques to be better.”