About the only job missing from the following list is an one-armed trapeze artist. So think of the next paragraph as the occupational melting pot.
Church pastor. Bouncer. Cop. Taxidermist. Bartender. Backhoe operator. Fisherman. Chemistry teacher. Librarian. Tribal council leader. Horse shoer. Cattle rancher. Pool man. Dairyman. CPA. Carpet cleaner. Garbage collector. Vineyard owner. Mortgage broker. Truck driver. Social worker. Stay-at-home dad. Tree trimmer. Used car salesman. Caterer.
So which one of these men coaches high school football in the Empire? All of them.
Come as a shock? It certainly did to Thad Owens, Kelseyville?s head coach.
Owens had coached in Texas and New Mexico, where a high school administrator looking for a head football coach would first consider a candidate based on his ability to coach. If he was a teacher, it was a bonus.
?Here it?s the other way around,? said Owens, who teaches construction, computer drafting and turf and landscape management. ?When I found out you got a $2,500 stipend to coach here, that just blew me away. At a small school in New Mexico you could get paid anywhere between $11,000 and $16,000 to coach. Obviously the emphasis on football is a lot different there than here. It?s been a little bit of an adjustment.?
Bob Cazet, Rincon Valley Christian?s head coach, once worked in Smith Station, Ala., where the athletic director/head football coach made $90,000.
?Smith Station doesn?t have more than 1,500 people in it and doesn?t even have a main street,? Cazet said. ?Yet there would be 13,000 people in the stands for every game. They just attracted people from all over the county.?
Well, this ain?t Texas, folks, or Alabama either, since we don?t have good barbecue or a reason-for-living football obsession. But it is still high school football and given that fact ? football is the most popular sport in America ? a perception exists that is far, far from reality.
Do the fans who follow any of the 32 football-playing schools in the Empire know the sacrifices, not to mention the occupations, of the coaches?
?Absolutely not,? said Mike Roan, El Molino?s coach, a physical education teacher at the school and former NFL player. ?They think we make thousands and thousands of dollars. It makes it tough to interact with parents sometimes. We are here for the kids. That?s it. We are not here to relive our youth or any success we?ve had.?
The skeptical, demanding parent may shrug off Roan; after all, what else is he supposed to say? Yet the evidence is overwhelming that working with kids can be the only reason. It can?t be for the money.
?Yeah,? said Gary Galloway, head coach at St. Vincent, ?and I?m saving up so I can retire at 75.?
Galloway laughs like his quarterback just tickled his feet.
Bill Nobles, head coach at Anderson Valley and pastor at the Assembly of God church, said he loses around $1,000 a year by the time he pays for kids? meals on road trips and the like. When Jeff Donaldson hears Nobles? story, maybe he won?t feel so bad.
?Just for the heck of it,? said Donaldson, Willits? head coach and garbage truck driver, ?one year I figured out how much I was making an hour. It was 2002. I got a stipend of $1,800. After all the hours I put in every year, it came out to 13 cents an hour. I told myself I would never figure it out again.?