December 5, 2003
In an effort to better serve its student body and to expand job and personal enrichment opportunities for graduates, the University of Maine at Fort Kent has added a new coaching minor to its curriculum.
The 18-credit hour option was developed by the athletic department after hearing interest from numerous students who wanted to coach sports when they leave the institution.
"I don't believe there is enough training for coaches as far as psychological issues, sports injuries and real theories behind coaching are concerned. This seemed to be the right direction to take in terms of better preparing our growing number of students who are interested in this area," said Sara-Kay Pittenger, UMFK's certified athletic trainer and one of the driving forces behind the implementation of the new minor. "There is a demand in the State of Maine and elsewhere for coaches. We felt, as the athletic department, we could fill this void by offering, with faculty support, a coaching minor."
Pittenger and others, including Donald Raymond, UMFK's registrar, worked together to develop a specific curriculum for the minor, which encompasses theories of coaching, skill acquisition, and management techniques.
Specific classes proposed included principals of coaching, kinesiology, basic athletic injuries, and exercise physiology. Among the electives that are planned include sports nutrition, women and sport, and physical conditioning.
Once they prepared a plan for the minor it was forwarded to the natural and behavioral sciences division for approval. Once approved, it then was brought before the academic council (a subgroup of the entire UMFK faculty) for review, endorsement, and approval. Final approval came recently from the vice president for academic affairs.
The coaching minor will now be available to students enrolled in any bachelor of science or bachelor of art program. The university requires all students in these programs to complete both a major and minor before graduation.
New and current UMFK students interested in declaring coaching as their minor are being encouraged to speak with Pittenger, Raymond and their academic advisor.
"The coaching minor has special benefits to two groups of people. First, for those students who are enrolled in our teacher preparation programs, the minor will provide them the background for future athletic coaching positions in the public schools. Second, for public school personnel, or those who aspire to become athletic coaches, the minor will assist them in obtaining the required credentials to become a coach," said Raymond.
The registrar, who works closely with UMFK teaching graduates who apply for teaching positions, believes that in some cases the coaching credentials will give the Fort Kent applicant the "leg-up" for certain positions in school districts.
Although, the new minor dovetails nicely with the university's education program, it will be available to students in other programs.
"For the institution this is a great area of growth academically and in terms of preparing our students for the future," said Pittenger.
Students will be offered coaching as a minor for the first time in the upcoming spring semester.