As the Denver Public Schools teachers’ strike started Monday, its results were already being felt by high school sports groups throughout the city — specifically those whose head coaches are getting involved in the walkout.
While the district announced university video games are being played as scheduled, “coaches who are instructors and are part of the strike can not coach,” DPS media relations director Will Jones stated. That’s requiring numerous groups, such as Thomas Jefferson boys basketball, to rapidly draw up a contingency strategy.
“I typed up a practice plan for my freshman coach and my non-paid volunteer coach, and they’re going to run the university practice (Monday),” stated Spartans university coach and striking instructor Grant Laman. “I might have to have our freshman coach at Tuesday’s university video game.”
The concern of whether to stand company with fellow colleagues on strike — as more than half of DPS teachers did today amidst unsolved wage settlements — or keep working amid the strike ends up being more mentally complicated for teacher-coaches. Basketball is in the last week of the routine season and fumbling has its local round Saturday.
“If this goes into another week and we’re in the postseason, I’ll have to make a tough choice about whether to cross the picket line,” Laman stated. “It would not be to deteriorate the teachers’ position, but just to coach my basketball group in the postseason. My seniors and my team should have that.”
Many of the district’s big-school varsity coaches aren’t teachers and have full-time jobs outdoors of the education system, limiting the effect of the strike on programs. However at Denver North, women basketball coach Erin Olson described how her program and Vikings sports overall are “in a more unique situation than others.”
“In girls basketball, all six paid positions and the 3 volunteer coaches are DPS teachers,” Olson said. “One of our two-days-a-week volunteers will coach the C group, and the JV coach has decided to continue to work and coach the JV. For the university, we have someone entirely unaffiliated with our program who is scheduled to coach the games on Tuesday and Thursday night.
“So during (Tuesday’s) game, the varsity will have someone who has never went to a practice and never ever been on our bench as our main coach. That’s undoubtedly not an perfect situation.”
Less than perfect, too, is the pressing issue in North’s wrestling space, where senior heavyweight Max Tayofa is coming off a title at the city champions over the weekend. But due to the fact that Vikings varsity coach Gabe Aguilera is also a striking teacher, Tayofa is now down both a coach and a drill partner.
The Vikings don’t have another heavyweight student-athlete to take Aguilera’s place in the practice room, so the school is bringing in an outside coach to work with Tafoya. Even still, Aguilera’s heart is heavy for a wrestler who he said has gotten rid of a lot of off-the-mat misfortune for the severe opportunity to make a run at certifying for the state tournament.
Aguilera, like Laman and Olson, desired a workaround to the strike’s no-coaching rule by potentially training with Tafoya on non-DPS home. But he was informed by his athletic director and his union representative that he couldn’t have any contact with his wrestlers throughout the strike or act as their coach in any manner. Coaches must have one complete day of teaching under their belt before they can resume responsibilities with their team.
“It’s difficult, since for the past 3 months I’ve been his partner, coach and mentor, and the most significant week of his life is coming up and I feel like I’m letting him down,” Aguilera stated. “But at the same time, I’ve got children in district and I’ve got to do this for my household.”
While other DPS preparation professional athletes may be less affected than North’s are, other prospective issues remain. Some referees set up to work basketball video games throughout the strike have pulled out, Laman stated, mentioning their assistance for the instructor’s union. Questions linger regarding how games will be staffed considering many ticket takers, authorities scorers and scoreboard operators are likewise striking instructors.
Plus, there’s the issue of how athletic eligibility will be imposed when many of the district’s trainees didn’t come to school Monday, with some leaving between classes and not returning.
“One, are the (substitute) teachers going to be mindful of who is in attendance and who’s not?” Olson stated. “And 2, throughout the regular season, I’m the one who is regularly monitoring to see if my gamers are in school prior to they’re playing or participating in practice. I’m not sure the safeguards are in location to make sure that’s taking location, specifically if the coach is striking.”