Temperature, Time, and the Structure of a Perfect Universe

For the past year SoftballOne has in the process of sponsoring a work visa for former Olympic player Wen Li-Hsiu of Taiwan.  Fortunately the petition was approved February 18 and we are expecting her to make her teaching debut very soon.  To make a long-story short and get to the point of this newsletter shortly, after submitting the I-129, or the last phase in the H1-B visa application process, the USCIS sent back a Request for Evidence (RFE) before their recent approval.  A RFE is issued to request additional information on the pending application.  In our case, we applied for the H-1B Specialty Occupations visa.  In order to qualify for this type of work visa the job must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:

  • Bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position
  • The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree
  • The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position
  • The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.

For the beneficiary (the person to be employed) to qualify to accept a job offer in a specialty occupation you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have completed a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
  • Hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation
  • Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification which authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment
  • Have education, training, or progressively responsible experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty.

The following is taken directly from our RFE.  Basically they claimed the position of a coach did not require a degree and therefore could not be considered a specialty occupation.

A baccalaureate or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum requirement for entry into the particular position;

The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH).(a publication of the United States Department of Labor), indicates that Coach is an occupation that does not require a baccalaureate level of education in a specific specialty as a normal, minimum for entry into the occupation. There is no clear standard for how one prepares for a career as a Coach and no requirement for a degree in a specific specialty. The requirements appear to vary by employer as to what course of study might be appropriate or preferred. As a result, the proffered position cannot be considered to have met this criterion.

Therefore, provide additional evidence to establish that the proffered position qualifies under one or more of the remaining three criteria:

Fortunately the USCIS allowed SoftballOne to respond to this claim and provide sufficient evidence for an approval.  My initial reaction to the claim was pure disbelief followed by a, “here we go again.”  How can coaching not be considered a specialty occupation in the eyes of the federal government?  Considering we clearly described the job duties that would be performed, the type of students she would be coaching, the nature of our business, and determined the prevailing wage for the LCA from the same OOH.  It wasn’t that they were saying only softball coaches didn’t need experience or a degree they were implying all coaches in all sports in the private market were not professionals requiring a degree or equivalent experience unless they were coaching at the University, or get this, the high-school level.  Unfortunately there are softball coaches in our profession, especially in our area, that lack any softball experience let alone went or finished college.  I know a couple that never even handled a baseball for their local high school teams and may or may not have a high school diploma.  However this isn’t the norm in other more advanced regions of the softball community and it is highly unusual in the overall industry of the private coaching sector.  It surely isn’t standard for other sports like football, basketball, soccer, volleyball, or baseball.  Because of the professional opportunities some players have in baseball, football, or basketball you may find coaches who have NBA, NFL, or major league experience and not a degree, but their professional playing experience prepares accordingly to teach and adequately enough to be approved for an H1-B visa by the USCIS.  It just appears our young female softball players are more susceptible to poor coaching and acceptance of low-end industry standards than other BIG money sports.  Daily I attempt to defend the quality of our game in our area and guard our children by explaining the many benefits of hiring a coach not only with college softball playing experience but a college degree under the belts.  My response to the RFE seemed easy enough.  The journey began.

Through my month long voyage of research and preparation I discovered why the USCIS held this position.   It is very easy to compose an opinion based on emotion, motive, or even worse convenience.  Decisions should be made based on sound facts and data.  Especially when you are talking about an industry or profession where profit is derived from servicing children. Was I communicating effectively to the community exactly what it means to hire a professional coach and what it takes to be a professional coach?  I discovered many of problems and risks our athletes face are a result of a lack of education and insight.  Maybe I needed to up my game and provide resources to parents, coaches, and children, better defend the profession of coach, validate coaching in the private sector, better protect our children, and ultimately increase their individual performance.  Was I explaining all the sport sciences applications used in daily instruction?  Maybe I needed to up my game with my curriculum.  Was I preventing injury the best of my ability even when it means telling people what they don’t want to hear?  Was I taking a strong enough stand for my profession and athletes?  Maybe I needed to up my game period and show with my actions and the actions of our staff instead of preaching and expecting everyone to simply just take my word for it and understand.  What does it mean for your child to be coached by a non-professional? Maybe I needed to provide proof.  Maybe a solution was due.

I invite you to read my response to the RFE.  One .pdf describes the nature of the position and the other describes the nature of the business.   I will also be adding links to the evidence I included for viewing.  There are many interesting articles regarding risks to our players because of the age, gender, and type of sport they play. There are also some examples of conditioning elements to help performance and  prevent injury especially for our pitchers.  You will also find information about nutrition, obesity, and eating disorders.  There is also a compare and contrast section between the various types of coaches in softball.  Below is the first paragraph…

Nature of the Position: Lead Defensive Coach (softball)

 

Coaching Children is not a commodity it is a Specialty

To address why the work to be performed in the proposed position is considered a “specialty position”, let us briefly examine the unique distinctions and trends of this industry (age, gender, and sport/softball), the risks associated with coaching such athletes, suitably define the legal and ethical responsibilities of coaches and businesses in the occupational field, and then explore the complexity of the service to be performed within this occupational field.  There is much more to this position than one would expect.

Nature of the Position.pdf

  • Packet 1 – NCAA graduation rates.
  • Packet 3 – examples of common training practices to prevent injury
  • Packet 4 -examples of common nutritional training and assessment
  • Packet 6 – examples of sports psychology training

Nature of the Business.pdf

  • Packet 3 – sections from the Indiana High School Athletic Association By-Laws regarding softball and softball coaches limitations.
  • Packet 5 – additional training material of SoftballOne.


SoftballOne, Inc
3810 N ST RD 267, Brownsburg, IN 46112
317-965-1079

Serving the Avon, Brownsburg, Indianapolis, Zionsville and Anderson fastpitch communities, SoftballOne provides fundamental softball training to youth and college players.

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