A simple message, accompanied by a simple motto: #PayFLCoaches.
The movement officially started back in December, action taken after years of frustration over the lack of investment in Florida’s high school football coaches.
James Thomson, head football coach at Winter Haven High School and Clinic Director/Co-founder of the Florida’s Coaches Coalition, had heard enough from peers in the state to realize that there was a need for unity.
“The consensus amongst coaches for the last 20-30 years has been that they are drastically underpaid,” he said in an email this week. “Dr. Andrew Ramjit, the Brevard County AD, decided to start thinking about solutions. I hooked up with him and we sat down and thought about the different ways to approach the issue and most importantly where to start.”
“We felt uniting coaches was the first thing to do.”
A 2019 article by News4Jax, titled “Sad state of pay,” illustrated the disparity between the Sunshine State’s coaches and those located elsewhere — one coach located in Florida made $4,699 for 12 months of work, while 35 miles away in Georgia, a counterpart was making $30,000.
From the article:
The highest football supplement available in the 11-county News4Jax Florida coverage area is Clay’s at $6,370. That total ranks third-highest in the state. The lowest head football coaching supplement in the News4Jax south Georgia coverage area is Charlton County’s at $14,000. Charlton is a Class 1A program with an enrollment of fewer than 500 students.
On an apples-to-apples comparison, that’s a $7,630 difference.
That’s the reality that coaches in Florida face. And they don’t have to look too far to see how disproportionate the sad state of pay is in arguably the best place in the country for high school football talent. Coaches can cross the state line and head to Georgia, where teaching and coaching pay are both significantly better.
“We’re focused on seeking to increase compensation for all coaches in Florida, raising the quality and competence of high school athletic coaching and administration through leadership development, educational programs, and training sessions, promoting professional standards and providing Liability Insurance and representation for members,” Thomson wrote.
It’s that unification philosophy that helped inform the thought process behind this year’s inaugural Florida Coaches Coalition Clinic, which is welcoming coaches from across the state and the southeast to participate in a convention that features some of the bigger names in high school and college football.
It’s a chance for education, with collegiate coach speakers including Florida State defensive coordinator Adam Fuller, Florida A&M head coach Willie Simmons, Indiana Hoosiers head coach Tom Allen and USF head man Jeff Scott, as well as Billy Napier and Mario Cristobal.
It’s also a chance for validation, with head coaches from several Florida high schools set to take the podium, ready to share their experiences and philosophies, all with the intent of forming a stronger network of coaching throughout the state.
“This initial clinic allows us the platform to lay out our plan to our colleagues,” Thomson added. “It’s an opportunity to just get together and hang out amongst each other. Coaching is a fraternity and we certainly love just being around each other.”