For Coaches Should I leave this coaching position after only one practice?

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gympanda

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Apr 14, 2009
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I've recently left the gym job I have been at for almost 9 years. Love the kids and like the program, but was offered one of those "amazing" opportunities. I could help start a brand new gym. Wouldn't have to put up any money and could just coach and help start a program with a couple of other people who I felt shared the same ideals of gymnastics as I do.

However, upon starting the program, I've learned I might have been slightly misguided. I'm not the "head coach" and have found that our HC has some very real issues with anyone making decisions or judgments without specific sign-off from him. I asked a L8 gymnast to try a different leap pass on beam. It was OK...something to work with, and he started yelling at me in front of the kids while I was coaching. I asked if we could discuss later, and he said no he wanted to discuss now. I said I wouldn't discuss now, as there were kids on the floor and completely able to hear. He said, "no we will discuss now" and then proceeded to yell at me in front of the kids, simply for allowing a child to try a different dance series during her beam practice.

This was our very first practice in our new gym and I feel very upset by this. I have a full time job outside of gymnastics and coaching and judging are simply my labors of love...I don't do it for the money, but rather the enjoyment I get from gymnastics. I was also told by the owner after the practice that I needed to sign a non-compete contract, which would disallow me from coaching in a gym within a certain number of miles of this gym should I leave. My husband and I (and my attorney) are uncomfortable with the idea of signing a non-compete, especially since I was yelled at by the HC in front of the kids (at the very first practice)...which in my entire professional and adult life I'm having a hard time coming up with another time I've been actually yelled at. (Talked with about a situation, had a consultative conversation...but never, ever had a voice raised and yelled at.)

My question is: 1) Is it normal for HCs to yell at other coaches in front of gymnasts? 2) Is it normal for coaches to sign non-compete contracts in the gymnastics world? I've been coaching at my other gym for so long that maybe I've lost touch with the business aspect of gymnastics in other gyms. My inclination is to quit after the next practice if I feel the same type of hostile environment is being presented to me (I wouldn't stay in an office environment with a hostile boss...why would I stay at a gym with a hostile boss?) I'm also going to let the owner know the non-compete is not something I would be able to sign. The owner had indicated to me that doing critics or judging consultation at gyms within the radius would be considered a violation of my non-compete.

Am I being over sensitive or is this just how the gymnastics world is?
 

dunno

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Apr 28, 2009
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get out! run as fast as you can to somewhere else. and of course you won't sign a non-compete.
 

Linsul

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Sep 19, 2008
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Don't walk, RUN. Inconsistencies topped off with complete lack of respect for you or the athletes, *plus* the intent to isolate you into submission. Sounds like their business plan is modeled after textbook abusive relationship guidelines, get out! If you're doing this purely for love of the sport and not to pay the bills you are negotiating from a place of power most don't have. Don't throw it away on this place!
 

bogwoppit

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Feb 26, 2007
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Leave now! He will NEVER become more respectful, do not sign a non-compete.
 

gymdog

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Jul 5, 2007
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My first thought was considering you're a judge, you were probably more experienced than him at evaluating the skill (especially considering it was a beam skill! I'm just saying. I know many great male WAG coaches, but very few coach beam dance or refuse to defer to experienced female coaches on it).

This would concern me. Many HC/owners would love to have the experience of a judge. To yell at them for letting a kid try something different that might improve the score of the routine, in front of the kids, on the first day - this is not someone I would want to work for. That's not reasonable behavior.

I have seen people sign contracts before with non-compete clauses, that in itself wouldn't necessarily drive me away, only the other behavior combined with it. It would depend on what it said, my understanding is that ones that indicate a period of time after termination of employment where the person still can't work for competitors are rarely enforced, but something like not being able to do judging critiques while still employed would probably be upheld as a legit reason for termination (if you're not in an at-will state, in which case if that's the opinion of the employer and they don't want you to do it, it might not even matter). In fact I've seen that very situation. The reason for termination (officially, it's not like there weren't others) was giving privates at another gym. Of course I would consider judging critiques more neutral than that myself. But I'm guessing in terms of the contract this could be enforced.

None of that is legal advice (seriously. don't try to take legal advice from me). Just some thoughts on the subject from what I've seen in the gymnastics world. My old HC has contracts with some non-compete elements (again, not after termination) and I'd work for her in a second if I was living there, she is upfront and professional.
 
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coachmolly

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Jan 18, 2009
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I had to sign a non-compete contract at my first coaching job and boy did I regret it! The HC/owner gave me a ton of crap- cutting my hours (sometimes as little as 3/week), giving me all TNT classes when I had been hired to coach girls artistic, hiring new coaches and giving them more hours/better positions even though when asked he told me I was doing a fine job and he respected my work greatly. I could not coach at another gym in a certain radius (50 miles maybe?) and was just stuck. I didn't want to leave as I love gymnastics and coaching, but it was rough.
I just started at a new coaching job (2,000 miles away, so I'm safe!) and the experience is totally different! You know what coaching can and should be like so if this is not meeting your expectations or making you feel uncomfortable or that you will not be able to work to your potential, I say run! There are too many programs out there that just do not have their priorities straight, no matter what kind of picture they paint for you at the start. If all of this happened within the first day, I hate to even think about what is to come down the road.
You would certainly be a valuable contributor to any program, don't settle for one that does not respect you.
 

gymdog

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Jul 5, 2007
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Again, if someone has put you in a position saying when your job is terminated you cannot find another similar position - i would consult a lawyer or your state law if it comes to that. They may not be able to really enforce this. I have heard in some states basically you can't really uphold a restriction like if the person can show they can't find other employment. I'm certainly not a lawyer so I can't really say with certainty or details, and employment laws vary across states, but I would just suggest anyone in that situation look into it before accepting the employer's word. I don't think it's unreasonable necessarily to contractually agree you will not do work at other gyms WHILE you are employed (and ethically, contract or not, i don't believe you should do so without the understanding of both gyms) but to me someone trying to get you to sign something that has restrictions on you after termination is too much. I don't think that's a reasonable restriction. There are problems, people go ways, as an employer they need to maintain their employee situation without using something that is almost a threat. That just seems suspicious to me. Like why do they have to put such restrictions on their employees?
 
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gympanda

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Apr 14, 2009
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Thanks so much for all your responses! I went in and let the owner know that it was not working out...so just wanted to let you all know that I did quit and feel SO much better!!! Thanks!!!
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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Jan 21, 2007
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Good to hear.

Always disappointing when an opportunity that sounds so promising doesn't work out.

Best of luck with everything!
 

bogwoppit

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Feb 26, 2007
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Glad you were able to do that. Another position will come along where your many talents will be appreciated and you will be able to work with some coaching professionals.
 

gymcoach34

Member
Apr 5, 2010
339
GymPanda,
That stinks, but I'm glad you went with your gut and left right away. Are there lesson plans at this gym? If not, how COULD you know what do do???????? And considering this is the off season- the coach should have been happy you were trying new things!

Its horrible the way you were treated! It would have just gotten worse (if that's at all possible-lol!) not better! What did the owner say after you quit after 1 practice?
 

gympanda

Coach
Coach
Judge
Apr 14, 2009
247
Country
USA
GymPanda,
What did the owner say after you quit after 1 practice?

The owner was very understanding and super nice about the situation. I didn't really go into detail, just let her know it wasn't going to work out and I wished them all the best. Much easier than I had anticipated and I definitely look forward to seeing her again. I did offer to tell HC myself that I was leaving and she felt it was best if she took care of it...leading me to believe he had probably spoken to her after practice 1 as well. So, I'm leaving with the understanding that some people just aren't meant to coach together and I'll likely go back to my other program at the end of the summer. I've decided to take a few months of only having one job and maybe spending time at home! Crazy! Not sure what I'm going to do with all this time...not sure how my DH will react to me being home at 5:30, but that in itself will be a new adventure!
 
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