When a private school unearths a quality head coach it has the resources to retain the coach. That's not always the case in the public sphere.
Witness the situation at Menlo-Atherton High School. Adhir Ravipati announced last week that he was stepping down as head football coach due to the commitments required by his day job, building products for a tech startup company, and his responsibilities as the head football coach at M-A.
Coaches at the high school level come and go. There is extremely high turnover due in part to the low pay and high time demands. Coaches get paid a stipend -- $5,200 for the head football coach at M-A. For an on-campus faculty member, that's in addition to regular salary. For an off-campus coach, like Ravipati, that's it -- payment for a supposedly part-time job with full-time responsibilities and commitments.
Obviously in Silicon Valley, or anywhere else for that matter, that's not enough to live on.
What makes the Ravipati situation noteworthy is the fantastic job he did at M-A. He won a state championship last December. If he did that at a private school a position could be created for him, paying a livable wage, just to coach football. After all, a successful state-champion football team provides great publicity, is a great marketing tool for a school. But that's not something that can be done as easily at a public school.
"At a private school they could raise tuition or go into their endowment or ask for donations to create a position,'' Menlo-Atherton athletic director Steven Kryger said. "It's something the principal and I discussed, 'what could we do to keep Adhir as football coach and as a positive influence on our kids?' But our hands are tied. At a public school all staff has to be credentialed. Private schools don't have to do that. And at public schools all positions have to be negotiated with unions.''
The challenge now for M-A is to find someone to replace Ravipati who will keep the program performing at a high level and try to avoid the downturns that followed previous coaching changes.
M-A won a CCS title in 2002, but coach Martin Billings, priced out of the local housing market, left after that season. The program gradually declined and three years later the Bears were 1-9. M-A won another CCS title in 2008 with Ben Parks and Phillip Brown as co-coaches after Bob Sykes resigned mid-season. A new coach from out of the area was brought in for the 2009 season and M-A went 1-9 with its one win by one point.
Sione Ta'ufo'ou took over in 2010 and stayed five years, compiling a 30-28 record. Ravipati was on that staff and was promoted to head coach in 2015. In four years his teams went 38-15 with two CCS championships and one state title.
"We've received three resumes, all from people very knowledgeable about football,'' Kryger said on Monday, three days after Ravipati's resignation. "The question is, who is the right person for M-A, to provide on and off the field support?''
The infrastructure Ravipati helped create was a big part of the team's success.
"We built a real solid academic foundation,'' Ravipati said. "A year-round study hall, our Huddle program to help support 50-50 kids, college counseling, SAT preparation, and our personal development program, Built for Life, which was based on what the University of Washington does.''
The result was far fewer athletes being unavailable due to academically ineligibility. In the 2018 postseason M-A had 70 players suited up, an almost unheard of number in these days of 30 to 40-man high school football rosters.
Another factor in the program's success was the terrific staff Ravipati assembled. A dozen or so assistants, most all with deep ties to M-A and the M-A community, particularly in the East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park areas where a large number of the players reside.
"The new coach should be able to bring in his own people, but will hopefully keep most of this current staff,'' Ravipati said. "They are a bunch of good guys in it for the right reasons.''
Some outstanding seniors depart such as defensive tackle Noa Ngalu and linebacker Daniel Heimuli, both headed to Waashington. But a huge amount of talent returns, including players like cornerback Justin Anderson and wide receiver Troy Franklin, both already with numerous Division I scholarship offers.
"Adhir has created an extremely high bar,'' Kryger said. "What he has created, with help from his assistant coaches, administration and parents, is an amazing infrastructure. Our desire is to keep all that going. Whoever our next coach will be will inherit a lot of support and a lot of talent.''
This story contains 840 words.
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