They fly under the radar. For every basket scored, touchdown thrown, goal kicked, and out made someone else is responsible for making sure the bus was scheduled, the team equipped, and the scorekeepers and officials arranged.
The players and fans can tell you who the coach is or what other sports the pitcher plays but they might not know who the Athletic Director is or everything they do to make that game happen that night.
In recognition of their diligent work Rep. Fred Keller (PA12) and California Rep. Nanette Diaz Baragan put forward legislation to proclaim Tuesday, Dec. 15 Interscholastic Athletic Administrators’ Day.
In a release about the legislation Keller said, “I’m proud to recognize the wonderful work that high school athletic administrators do in promoting excellence in our student-athletes both on and off the field. Athletic administrators serve a crucial role in our schools, motivating students to push themselves in the classroom and on the field while also teaching them valuable lessons about the values of sportsmanship, cooperation and fair play—the benefits of which last a lifetime.”
Locally athletic directors serve in the capacity while holding a pseudo-administrative role, as most districts do not officially recognize the position as an administrative position. Many of the athletic directors hold various other positions within in their district.
Forest City Athletic Director Brian Durkin and his counterpart at Montrose Area Joe Gilhool are both Social Studies teachers in their respective schools; Elk Lake Athletic Director Tony Blaisure also serves as the school’s transportation coordinator; and Blue Ridge’s Scott Summers is a certified athletic trainer serves the district in that capacity. Susquehanna’s Roxann Lloyd also serves as part of the high school office staff.
Mountain View’s Jan Price serves exclusively as the athletic director, as she is a retired elementary teacher.
We talked to the six athletic directors in school districts in the county about their experiences and the importance of high school sports. The questions and answers (in italics) follow:
Elk Lake School District
Years as an Athletic Director: 30
Sports played in High School/College/ and Coaching experience: Basketball and baseball High School. Basketball in college. Varsity softball coach at Elk Lake 36 years; 12 year Varsity Girls’ Basketball Coach; 4 years Boys’ Assistant Varsity Coach
Memorable moment (from high school or college career): In high school, winning two playoff game for Division titles against Montrose in both halves.
Why do you believe Sports is an important part of the education process? It helps keep kids in school and also teaches a lot of life lessons.
Forest City Regional School District
Years as an Athletic Director: 20 years
Sports played in High School/College/ and/or Coaching experience: Played High School Basketball at Carbondale Area. I had every intention to coach basketball after college. However, I was given the opportunity to become Athletic Director. I continue to put all my energy into this but do hope to coach in the future at some capacity.
Memorable moment (from high school or college career): Being on the Carbondale Area State Championship teams of 1993 and 1994. The 1993 game is arguably one of the great games in PA State Championship history. Point Guard Leo Skorupa made a last second scoop shot to beat George Jr. Republic, which was a heavy favorite.
Why do you believe Sports is an important part of the education process? Sports are important in that they help student athletes develop teamwork and collaborative skills to apply throughout their lives.
Student athletes learn to balance their academic and athletic responsibilities, which helps them learn another life lesson of prioritizing tasks.
Team practices help athletes understand focus and determination, while athletic competition helps them build self-confidence through their wins and build resilience in their defeat, all of which are important qualities in both the classroom or in the realm of sports.
Student athletes become part of their community as representatives of our schools and athletic programs. This makes them an integral part of creating community spirit, which is strong in the Forest City Region. These student athletes develop a sense of pride and motivation which can be carried into the classroom.
Montrose Area School District
Years as an Athletic Director: 20
Sports played in High School/College/ and Coaching experience: Cross Country, Basketball, Track
Memorable moment (from high school or college career): In High School District Playoff game versus Scranton Prep in Catholic Youth Center (Now Lackawanna College Student Union Center) to qualify for a state game. Honesdale, my high school, was not expected to compete let alone win against the powerhouse team from Scranton. Honesdale was down by 3 points with 45 seconds left. I made 2 foul shots with 25 seconds to cut the deficit to 1. With just seconds on the clock, I step to the foul line and made 2 more foul shots to beat Scranton Prep by 1 point to qualify for the state tournament.
Why do you believe Sports is an important part of the education process? I believe that sports help develop a strong work ethic and leadership roles for the futures of athletes. Athletes need to manage their time well and work in loud and hectic environments all while achieving in the classroom. Most athletes are leaders in their schools. Being an athlete, forces people to be develop working relationships with other personalities which will be beneficial in real life situations. Sports have many positive attributes that people carry for the rest of their lives. Some of these attributes unfortunately might be considered negative, but I see them as an experience to learn from, not as bad. I do think sports inspire athletes to work together to achieve goals which will lead to possible job opportunities in the future.
Mountain View High School
Years as Athletic Director: 10
Sports played in High School/College/ and Coaching experience: Basketball, Track & Field, Volleyball. Played Field Hockey in college. Coached varsity softball and over 30 years coaching girls’ and boys’ volleyball at Mountain View. PIAA official in volleyball and basketball.
Memorable moment (from high school or college career): The enthusiasm and excitement that the Girls Volleyball team displayed when they won their first match during my first year of coaching that sport.
Why do you believe Sports is an important part of the education process: In education, students need to study, plan and execute what they have learned to carry on.
Playing sports is much like the ups and downs of everyday life. It helps athletes learn how to deal with various issues that occur, and it can help relieve everyday stresses.
In academics students learn how to succeed in their studies, similarly, practicing and playing sports, athletes can find satisfaction in their playing abilities. It teaches them perseverance and can give them pride in their accomplishments.
Scott Summers, LAT ATC
Blue Ridge School District
Years as an Athletic Director: 4
Sports played in High School/College/ and Coaching experience: Basketball 4 years, Golf 3 years. Basketball in college. Assistant Basketball Coach at Marywood University and Mountain View High School.
Why do you believe Sports is an important part of the education process? I believe sports provide another avenue for students to learn outside the classroom. It teaches student-athletes valuable lessons in teamwork, discipline, sportsmanship, and determination. It also provides students with an activity they can be successful in, building their self-confidence and character.
Susquehanna Community School District
Years as Athletic Director: 9
Why do you believe Sports is important part of the education process? I believe sports are an important part of the educational process because the approach for a student athlete to be successful on the mat, court, field, etc. can be the same approach they use in the classroom. Just like in the classroom a student athlete is exposed to a variety of concepts and terminology based around the focus of the practice.
The student athlete then applies that terminology and concepts through repetitions just as a student learning a new math concept. The same drive and focus students use to be successful in sport is the same used to be successful in the classroom.
Outside the classroom itself, sports also allow students to grow in the social and emotional realm of the educational process. Being part of a team creates a sense of belonging and generates the school spirit we all know and love.
Apart from the sport itself, sports open the door for more opportunities for students to be involved in (cheer squad, pep squads, mascots, team managers, scorekeepers, etc.) further increasing that feeling of belonging and school spirit.