Patrick Weider doesn't have much time to rest during the first few months of each school year.
During the week, he wakes around 6 a.m. and makes the drive from his Mountville home in Lancaster County to William Penn Senior High School in York City, arriving sometime around 7 a.m.
After spending the school day there working as a special-education teacher, Weider drives to Small Field, where he spends the next three hours coaching receivers and defensive backs on York High's football team.
He eventually makes it back home by 7:30 p.m.
He also spends a couple of hours Saturday breaking down game film and a few hours Sunday meeting with the other football coaches to prepare for the Bearcats' next opponent.
Now in his seventh year as a teacher in the district and sixth year as an assistant coach with the Bearcats' football program, Weider wouldn't have it any other way.
"You do it for the kids a lot of times. And I love football," Weider said. "I'm a little selfish in that right. The X's and O's, that's fun. I love that. It's a lot of fun just breaking down film and preparing for an opponent like a chess match."
As much as Weider loves football, though, he does appreciate being compensated for the number of hours he puts in for the program.
Unfortunately for the 33-year-old Ohio native, Weider had his stipend of roughly $4,000 taken away this year as a result of budget cuts to various York High sports programs.
The Bearcats' football program went from nine paid coaches a year ago to four this year. Weider is now one of four volunteer coaches with the team.
Donating their time: While volunteer positions have been around for decades, more people have been donating their time as coaches in recent years at programs throughout York County.
And if not for them, several head coaches and athletic directors feel student-athletes would suffer as a result of the fiscal constraints that have forced a reduction in the number of paid assistant positions.
"We've been very, and I underscore very, fortunate to have volunteers come forward," Susquehannock athletic director Chuck Abbott said. "And they're there for the right reasons. They've been there as a player and they want to come back and help."
The Warriors cut 14 paid assistant coaching positions in the 2011-12 school year.
But Abbott said his programs have survived thanks to volunteers. It should be noted that all coaches, whether paid or volunteer, have to pass background checks as part of state law.
One Susquehannock volunteer is Brian Sweitzer, who will be an assistant for the boys' basketball program this year after recently coaching at the junior high level.
Since head coach John Zerfing holds practices in the evening, Sweitzer said the gig fits with his work schedule as the public works superintendent for Shrewsbury Borough.
"I used to coach the junior high program, and we had practices right after school," Sweitzer said. "That was hard for me to leave work early and get to practice on time. There were times when I had to leave work, go to practice and then come back to work."
Loyalty: Many volunteers are former players of the program they're coaching, including Cortni Rentzel, a 2008 Northeastern grad who is starting out as a volunteer assistant with the girls' volleyball program this year.
The Bobcats lost a paid assistant coaching position last year as part of 14 total positions that were cut overall from the athletic budget. The Northeastern girls' volleyball program now has two paid coaches and three volunteers this year.
"Truthfully I just want to enjoy it," Rentzel said. "I'm still young, so I'm not tied down with anything. And I just like playing volleyball and now that I'm not playing every day, this is the other way to go with it."
Future: As for the future of some programs that rely on volunteers, that still appears to be murky.
"I don't know, to be honest with you," new Dallastown boys' basketball coach Mike Grassel said.
Grassel has been with the program for five years as an assistant but is stepping into the head coaching role this year. The program lost one paid assistant last year as a result of the 14 paid assistant positions the Wildcats cut in various programs.
"The problem is there will be a different person (volunteer) stepping up in maybe two or three years from now," Grassel said. "So you don't have the stability you had five or 10 years ago. There will probably be more turnover because there's no monetary compensation for them."
"It covers the gas and everything that you did," Weider said. "It's not a lot of money but it's enough to make it worth it to put up with the other stuff that you're doing. Coaching I love, but it's the other things you deal with that makes it tough."
- Reach John Walk at jwal firstname.lastname@example.org.