Coaching your own children requires walking a fine line |

Mike Beale has been the Freeport Area boys basketball coach for 23 years.

He’s also coached his two sons. The youngest, Ben, will graduate in the spring.

Beale said it’s a fine balance between the role of coach and the role of dad, but it has worked out well for his family.

“For my sons, I was coaching before they were born,” Beale said. “As they grew up, coaching was a big part of our lives.”

Many schools across Western Pennsylvania have coaches like Beale, who coach teams their children are on, but it’s up to individual districts to decide if it’s allowed and to deal with any issues that may come up.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association and the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League don’t have any jurisdiction over whether parents can coach their children and don’t require any specialized training.

Apollo-Ridge is the latest district in the Alle-Kiski Valley to allow volunteers to coach their children. Paid coaches have been able to coach their kids, and that policy will remain.

District officials said they recognized that community members are interested in contributing services without compensation.

At Apollo-Ridge, the head coach of each sport must initiate the move to have a volunteer coach approved.

Athletic Director Ray Bartha and the building principal then must review the volunteer coach’s credentials and make a recommendation to the school board.

Once a volunteer coach is approved, he or she gets written assignments outlining duties and responsibilities. Volunteers won’t be covered by the school district’s insurance carrier.

David Eavenson, president of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association, said changes are coming for the training coaches have to go through. Beginning next year, all coaches will have to pass state-approved coaching education courses to be a coach.

“Unfortunately, Pennsylvania was one of the last states to mandate coaching education,” Eavenson said. “So far, I think it has proven to be very valuable.”

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