JANESVILLE

The coaching carousel continues to spin at Janesville Parker.

Last week, baseball coach Brian Martin became the third head coach of a spring sport to resign after the 2018 season, joining girls track and field head coach Kristin Collins and softball coach Steve Heilman.

Those three resignations came on the heels of two resignations after the winter sports season. Keith Miller resigned as boys basketball coach, while Danny Jackson stepped down as the wrestling coach.

The athletic programs will also be under the leadership of a new athletic director as Clayton Kreger takes over for John Zimmerman. Kreger is Parker’s third AD in the last three years.

By the end of the upcoming 2018-19 school year, 14 of the 22 athletic programs offered at Parker will have had a new head coach since the 2016-17 school year started. That’s a 64 percent turnover rate, and that seems alarmingly high.

So what gives? Why can’t Parker seem to hang onto coaches long term?

Most resigning coaches have cited a need for spending more time with family. That’s certainly a valid reason, especially because many sports are becoming year-round commitments for athletes and coaches alike.

But could there be more to the story? After all, many head coaches in the area juggle family obligations with their coaching duties, and at no other area school do I see the amount of short-term coaches as I see at Parker.

If it’s not all about family, what else could be the culprit chasing away people who seem to be well-qualified coaches?

Meddling parents certainly deserve part of the blame.

Too many parents see their kids as the next LeBron James, Aaron Rodgers or Mike Trout. That puts extra pressure on the head coach to make sure he or she is “showcasing” parents’ children without sacrificing for the good of the rest of the team.

“Parents expect it to be a year-round and 24-hour thing,” Collins said of being a head coach.

“I got numerous calls during dinner, on weekends, etc. It doesn’t end. It was always somebody needing something.

“Another problem, and not just in track, was getting athletes to come out for sports. It’s really hard to do all of that work and finish toward the bottom of the conference.”

Losing certainly makes things tougher on any head coach. And Parker has seen its share of bad times the last several years.

Very few Vikings teams finished above .500 in the 2017-18 academic year; those that did were baseball, boys and girls golf, and co-op girls hockey.

Collins puts part of the blame on the administration at Parker.

“Longtime coaches like (former girls basketball coach Tom) Klawitter that brought success were ran out because administration doesn’t care how our sports programs do,” Collins said. “It makes it tough for a coach if you’re not on the same page as the administration.”

Hopefully, the coaching carousel at Parker is full and no one else looks to get on board.

If not, a school that prides itself on a long and storied athletics tradition will be known as a school that can’t keep a coach.

John Barry is a sports writer for The Gazette

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