Bob Bateman has been teaching at Carson High School since 1978. He has also served as head track and football coach. For the past several years, he has served as athletic director. Recently he shared some thoughts about his career as a player, coach and administrator at Carson High.
Q: Talk about your playing experiences?
A: I played Little League. In high school, it was football and track. I was pretty good. I played defensive back and flanker. I played two years at Pierce Junior College in Los Angeles and then went to San Fernando Valley State (now Cal-State Northridge). I played one year and blew out my knee. Out of high school, I had some big schools looking at me.
Q:How has sports changed since you played?
A: It’s changed in the sense that kids played to represent their school and community. The change is that you see an attitude where the sport “owes” them a scholarship. Before, you never heard that. You played for the pure love of the sport.
Q: Do you cover scholarships and playing at the next level in your annual parent meeting?
A: I tell parents and kids to enjoy the high school experience because it’s over in the blink of an eye. If you really enjoy it, there is a place to pursue it, a place to go play.
Q: Kids get a lot of recruiting letters. Where did your first one come from?
A: UCLA. I still have the letter. I’m not sure who the coach was, I think it was Tommy Prothro.
Q: Do you see kids/parents doing more of their own recruiting?
A: Yes. There are a lot of different websites they can go to, much more than ever before. Kids will go to different companies that put together highlight films. A lot of our coaches played in college and they are a great network to reaching out and telling people about our athletes.
Q: You stepped down as assistant football coach to spend more time with your family. Are you enjoying being a grandfather, and are you through coaching?
A: I love it (being a grandfather). I get to spoil them and watch them grow up, and I don’t have to get up at 2 a.m.
I miss coaching tremendously. I’ll never say never.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I don’t think there is anything I don’t like. It’s why I enjoy the job so much. If not for athletics I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have a college degree.
Q: What is the toughest part of being an athletic director?
A: Nowadays it’s dealing with the budget. Things are so expensive now. Football helmets cost between 200 and 300. That presents a problem. Given the nature of head injuries in the NFL, you don’t skimp on protective headgear. We want the best equipment for our athlete. They are representing our school and community. We want the best equipment and the best uniforms. We turn over uniforms and pass them down every couple of years.
Q: How much interaction do you have with parents? How much do you get involved when it comes to playing time?
A: It’s a process. Our policy dictates that a parent first goes to the coach. That’s in our policy. There is always a 24-hour cooling off period. You don’t speak to the coach after a game. If the parent and coach can’t resolve the differences, I meet with the coach and parent(s). Most of the time, 80 to 90 percent, the situation works itself out. If they are still not happy there is a meeting with the coach, parents, myself and the principal. It’s a policy we talk about at the very beginning. The key is establishing communication. I tell parents they should be advocates for their kids. There is nothing wrong with living vicariously through your children. When they are hurting, you are hurting.
Q: How much change can an athletic director affect change at a school or in a region?
A: You have a lot of input in change. The first thing on my agenda was to establish random drug testing. We were looking to be the first school to do it. McQueen did it, but for football only. We’re the first ones to do it for all sports. The following year Douglas started its program. Some programs in Washoe County have already dropped their programs. If you can save or make a difference with one student-athlete, it’s worth it. We’ve gotten a lot of financial help from the Drug Alliance. We haven’t had to charge student-athletes. When a person is chosen (at random) for testing, there is a questionnaire that is left on the table that they can fill out anonymously. It’s totally voluntary.
Q: Anything you would like to change in regards to the facilities at Carson?
A: I would like to upgrade the softball facility. I’d like to get a press box built there. Our facilities are great. We got the wrestling room and new weight room built the last couple of years, and our football and baseball fields are some of the best, if not the best around. The track facility is the best in the state.
Q: Has community support, in terms of attendance at games, waned over the years?
A: To a degree, yes. There are more high schools around here and so some of the rivalries have been diluted. There used to be rooters’ buses to football games or basketball games. We’ve not had a rooters’ bus literally for years.
Q: Carson is fortunate in that it has and/or had a lot of on-campus coaches. How important is that in the educational and athletic process?
A: When a job is opened, it goes through the high school first and then through the district. I like the policy. When you are on campus, you see the student-athlete as students first and athletes second. That may not always be the case with off-campus coaches because they are only seeing the kids at practice and games. That being said, you can’t run an athletic program without off-campus coaches. There are so many teams nowadays. There aren’t many coaches who have been around for 20 or more years. I’m a dinosaur. I think coaches burn out for a variety of reasons.