At the end of the school year, high school athletic coaches can count on a three-month vacation break from their daily routine.
But for many the break is far from a vacation.
They are busy working summer jobs.
Some land work as summer school teachers, but others are forced to search outside of the schools for employment.
"Normally we spend the other nine months of the year looking for summer employment so we can help make ends meet," said Gary Shair, who coaches boys basketball and girls softball at Chatsworth High.
While many of the activities of the coaches might fall in the mundane category, there are exceptions.
Carson assistant football coach Saul Pacheco, for instance, spends his summers as a U.S. Customs officer at Los Angeles International Airport; and Jerry Marvin, Palisades boys basketball coach, passes up work. He is generally abroad, this year in Paris, thanks to a house swapping arrangement.
Then there is Shair, who is a pool manager at a park in North Hollywood; Tom Carroll, athletic director and baseball coach at Damien in La Verne, who is summer janitor at the school, and George Rosales, assistant football coach at St. Francis in La Canada, a summertime house painter.
Exciting or not, you won't hear many complaints from coaches. Most are just happy to have a job that will help pay their bills until the new school year starts.
Carroll is the first to admit that his summer job doesn't sound too appealing.
"I'm a janitor--landscape engineer if you want to make it sound better," he joked.
No, mowing lawns, sweeping up trash, pulling out weeds and painting buildings is not for everyone.
But the 55-year-old Carroll, who has been a janitor at the school for 14 years, doesn't seem to mind.
"I still enjoy it," he said. "Some days it gets so hot that it becomes a difficult chore. But I really enjoy the physical stuff. There are days when I ask myself, 'What the hell am I doing this for?' But it pays the bills and that's what it's all about.
"This is survival for me. You have to make house payments and feed your family and this is the best way for me to do it. There's not a lot of money in this but as long as nobody (in the family) gets sick . . . it's OK."
Carroll, who has been the school's athletic director for 13 years and a coach for 31 years, is used to working hard over the summer. One of his first summer jobs was as a construction worker. He also spent two summers working as an asphalt layer. "That was tough work but the money was good," he recalled.
If anything, Carroll says that doing maintenance work is a nice change from the pressures of his work during the school year.
"It gets me away from the necessities of planning for every day during the school year," he said. "I don't have to ask myself, 'Did I order enough tape? Do we have enough equipment?' It's hard work but there isn't as much pressure as there is during the school year. I can do things at my own pace."
Pride in His Work
It may not be as taxing as being an athletic director or coaching, but Carroll maintains a lot of pride in his work.
"It's nice for the kids (at Damien) to come back in September and see their school looking good," he said.
Two of his major tasks this summer have been planting grass on a new athletic field and helping to repair part of the school's football stands.
Carroll usually takes two or three weeks off before the school year starts, but he does so with hesitation. "My biggest worry is that when I leave, nobody will cut the grass. That means more work for me and my crew (of one other janitor and several student workers) when I come back in the fall."
Compared to his work as a coach and teacher during the school year, Shair's summer job is like a refreshing dip in a pool.
The 50-year-old Shair acknowledges that his job as a pool manager is not the most demanding in the world--and that's just the way he likes it.
"It's a great break from coaching and teaching," Shair said. "I don't know how some people can work at the same thing all year. It's a refreshing change and the hours are very flexible. This summer is even better because I'm only working nights."
Shair has been working around swimming pools for as long as he can remember. His first job was as a pool locker attendant at age 15. He has also been a lifeguard at pools and beaches.
For most of the last 20 summers, however, he has been a pool manager.
Shair said his job was a little more difficult the previous five years, when he had to deal with youth gangs while managing the pool in Paxton Park in San Fernando.
No Serious Problems
"We never had any serious problems," he said. "Occasionally there would be graffiti sprayed on the walls but that was about it. I didn't have many problems but I'm 6-5 and over 200 pounds and that made a lot of difference compared to the last manager. He had some problems but he was only 5-8."
Shair said one of the worst problems occurred the night before his first day on the job.