High school coaches are under appreciated and underpaid, but their roles as mentors can't be undervalued. On average, coaches spend 40 to 50 hours a week mentoring for a measly amount of money.
"I would tell guy, make sure you look at everything you're getting into," said Hillsborough High football coach Earl Garcia. "Because the money is embarrassing."
"If you put pen to paper, you figure out what the hours are, you're looking at 10 cents an hour," he added.
It's not the paycheck that brings Earl Garcia to the field. Hillsborough County's longest-tenured football coach is about to kickoff his 39th season. His passion to mold young players is what keeps him in the game.
There aren't many like him. Garcia has seen a 50 percent turnover in head coaches in the last two years alone, and sees more retirements on the way.
"Old guys like myself. Mike DePue, he's retiring after this year. Robert (Weiner) is really a young guy. Sean (Callahan) is not so young, but he's got a few years left. After that wave gets out, I don't know. I honestly don't know. Those are dinosaurs. It's not going to happen again unfortunately, unless something is done," he said.
In Hillsborough County, head football coaches top the pay scale, earning a $3,700 stipend compared to $1,000 for golf, tennis and cross country coaches. Money is a major factor why a lot of coaches don't stick around.
But in Texas and in Georgia, top football coaches can earn six-figure paychecks.
"Some places in Texas and in Georgia, you don't have to teach a class," Garcia said. "You are just the head football coach. That is very attractive."
For Garcia, the grass is greener in Tampa Bay.
Plant's Roy Harrison has lead the Panther girls to 25 consecutive state appearances, including nine state championship titles. It's certainly not the money that keeps him running.
"It's not why I got into it," Harrison said. "I knew that coming in that I wasn't going to make a lot of money doing it and I accept that."
"I don't know how they find cross country coaches," Garcia said. "I don't know how they find swimming coaches. I don't know how they find coaches at all."
Coaches come for the kids, and there are the real rewards.
"The kids are my heroes," Garcia said.
"When I see kids on Bayshore that I coached 20 years ago, I still see them out there still running. This is a life time sport. It's not like a lot of high school sports that they stop when they are done. The kids run by and say, ‘Coach I'm still running.' It's 20 years later. That's what makes me feel I've done my job," Harrison said.
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