Clear eyes, full-time, can’t lose

Coaching at Pierce College is a numbers game. Zero is the number of full-time athletic coaches currently employed at Pierce College. One is the number of schools in the state that don’t have a full-time coach on staff. The last full-time position was occupied 10 years ago.

Despite Athletic Director Bob Lofrano’s yearly efforts to open up full-time positions to the 12 sports teams on campus, Pierce has yet to do so.

California mandates that all full-time coaching positions within community colleges must be held by someone with a masters degree in their field or an AA degree with six years of professional experience.

Those who have earned only a bachelor’s degree, even with professional experience, will not be considered for the hiring process of a full-time position.

Currently, all the coaches at Pierce do not have a masters degree and therefore are part-time.

“My thoughts are every time somebody asks me from the state, when I tell them we don’t have a full-time coach on staff, people don’t believe me. They tell me ‘there is no way,’” women’s volleyball coach Nabil Mardini said.

To men’s volleyball head coach Lance Walker, it is clear that having coaches on campus full-time would have a positive impact on athletes.

“It would be unbelievably amazing because ideally if you are full-time, you’re here,” Walker said. “You are available for your athletes that have questions.”

If a full-time coaching position were to be opened up, the person that would fill such a spot would also be expected to teach with no requirement that they must still coach. This has posed some roadblocks in the past, according to Lofrano.

“The problem has always been when coaches get positions in a school and within a short period of time stop coaching. Then, they hold that kinesiology teaching position,” Lofrano said.

This type of scenario blocks dedicated coaches from holding a job as both a professor and a coach. Also, the athletic department must hire walk-on coaches to be in charge of Pierce’s sports teams, according to Lofrano.

However, the biggest conundrum that the athletic department faces now is whether or not they are prepared to let the 11 coaches who are currently employed at Pierce go and replace them with those qualified to be full-time.

“None of those people are qualified to get a full-time teaching position here because none of them have a masters. If they said right now that we could hire five [people full-time], five people would be out of a job as a coach,” Lofrano said.  

“That is what it would come down to and it’s a shame because we have a really good group of people here,” Lofrano said.

While it is true that none of the existing coaches on campus meet the requirements, in the past there have been potential candidates who have applied and been denied, according to Mardini.

“The baseball coach, he ended up moving to Texas with his family because he didn’t end up getting the full-time job. And, I am talking coaches who have their masters,” Mardini said.

According to Mardini, the reason many colleges are opening up full-time positions for their volleyball teams, is the addition of beach volleyball.

“As much as I love this place, it is my baby and I have been here for so long, I built the program and it is hard for me to leave. But it is getting to the point where I can’t be competitive anymore unless we add beach volleyball,” Mardini said.

One of the main reasons why Pierce has held off on hiring full-time coaches is the lack of funding, according to the Vice President of Student Services Earic Dixon-Peters.

“Community colleges are not like four-year schools,” Dixon-Peters said. “We are not like an NCAA school. We don’t generate millions of dollars from our athletic programs. Having an athletic program doesn’t have the same outcome that a four-year would have.”

However, Mardini’s suggestion is that if Pierce were to add beach volleyball courts, the college could create extra revenue and serve the athletes at the same time.

“Every high school in the state of california is adding beach volleyball. And guess what? They don’t have the space to practice in,” Mardini said. “So, we could actually generate money by renting out the courts.”

“To me it is really a question to the administration. I don’t know what their intentions are,” Mardini said.