The life of a high school athletic director is anything but dull

Indiana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association conference helps ADs deal with the many issues they face on a daily basis.

Posted on March 30, 2014 at 6:00 p.m.

An athletic director's day is never boring.

He or she is kept busy with managing staff, athletes, scheduling, facilities, events, finances and dealing with parents, officials, media and so much more.

"You are always going from one thing to another," says Concord High School AD Dave Preheim. "That's part of the challenge. It's a new situation everyday and you have to learn to adapt.

"You've got to have Plan A, B, C, D. Hopefully, you don't get into double letters."

Preheim is charged with looking over a staff of about 80 coaches (paid and volunteer) and around 500 athletes.

"You have to stay on top of things," says Preheim. "When something goes wrong, where do everybody's eyes go? — the the person in charge."

First-year Jimtown High School AD Nate Dean said he is a sponge, soaking up the daily duties of his job.

"If I'm doing my job correctly and smoothly, others won't know what I do," says Dean. "Communication is the key, especially this time of year."

Dean has come up with a checklist for when a contest needs to be changed. There are 13 people on that list.

To get help with all these tasks, many athletic department staffers attend the Indiana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, which concluded a four-day run in Indianapolis last week.

Elkhart Central AD Brian Buckley was there learning best practices and swapping ideas with others in his profession.

"It's great to learn from your peers," says Buckley. "Any time you get a little education, that's a positive."

Among the many topics discussed was an AD coaching his coaches.

"That's what I try to do all the time," says Buckley. "You mentor them and be the guy they can talk about any issue. You try to give them sound advice."

Buckley asks all his coaches the same question: Are you giving your best effort?

The inquiry covers many areas, including hospitality toward opponents, respect for game officials and treatment of players.

First-year Elkhart Memorial High School AD Jacquie Rost used the IIAAA conference as a chance to network and learn techniques she can use to help her department.

"As a new AD, I've so much to learn," says Rost. "I learned about how to run a good meeting with your coaches."

Rost, Memorial's long-time head volleyball coach, sees her role as AD as a "servant/leader" and she strongly believes in the team concept.

"We are better off coming together as a department," says Rost. "(But) coaches must take accountability and ownership of (their individual programs)."

Rost and Buckley, under the guidance of Elkhart Community Schools superintendent Rob Haworth, are working to forge a stronger bond with elementary and junior high administrators and coaches.

That means reaching out to junior high athletic directors — Betsy Tepe at North Side, Jeremy Satterfield at Pierre Moran and Steve Greenlee at West Side — and letting them know the expectations at Central and Memorial while also working to serve the needs at the lower levels.

"We are Elkhart Community Schools," says Buckley. "We need to embrace that. We're all in this together.

IHSAA executive committee member Dean attended the first meeting of the IHSAA's sportsmanship task force while at the IIAAA conference.

Task force members brainstormed, looking to see if more can be done than sportsmanship posters and public service announcements. That includes penalties for schools who routinely have sportsmanship issues.

The IHSAA does require, game officials must now file an unsportsmanlike report within 24 hours of an incident.

One of the highlights of the IIAAA conference for Preheim is interaction with the IHSAA staff, including commissioner Bobby Cox who presented legislative updates.

While the IHSAA board will not set specifics until its May 5 meeting, the Indiana Legislature passed a bill requiring all football coaches to take a class on concussions.

Coaches proposals will also be acted upon in May. Before that, the IHSAA executive committee will meet and there will be principal/AD meetings throughout the state.

It's all a part of educating athletic directors and other administrators to help them face their anything-but-boring day.

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