This month, the NFHS is kicking off its National Communications Campaign entitled “#MyReasonWhy” with the goal being to drive participation and strengthen support for high school athletics and activities while showcasing the outstanding work of the 51 NFHS-member state associations.
Two of the most significant leadership positions in high school athletics/activities administration across the country are local high school athletic directors and directors of the state high school athletics/activities associations.
Following are comments from three high school athletic directors and three executive directors of state high school associations indicating the reasons they chose high school athletics/activities administration
as a career.
Dr. Steve Amaro, CMAA
Athletic Director, Tennis Coach
Freedom High School
Careers in education are tremendously rewarding. When we work with students, we get a glimpse of the future and provide leadership for the next generation. Academic classrooms may give skills to students
to navigate the world around us, but athletics give students passion.
I chose to work as an athletic administrator to foster passion by teaching and giving students the opportunity to demonstrate the six pillars of character. On a daily basis, I get to see teamwork, camaraderie
and dedication to excellence in our students and coaches all while promoting trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. These experiences become the foundations of future success and serve as a bridge to unite communities. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing our students succeed, and I can’t think of a more worthy career than to help challenge students to push their limits and find their inner greatness.
Richard Barton, CMAA
Richfield High School
My high school coach was also the athletic administrator at my high school. He was a man of integrity, honor and emulation. I aspired to have the same service characteristics that he possessed and gravitated to the career he served in. That is what initially got me into this career. What kept me in was the nature of the job and professional development, networking and offerings available to everyone found in the NIAAA (National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association).
I have found my service lane in being a part of this great occupation. It is behind-the-scenes work that is others-directed and others-inspired. Being on the ground level and seeing first-hand how sport transforms and changes lives is something that makes me excited to want to come to work on a daily basis.
Athletic administrators are servant leaders who are all about leading and helping today’s student-athletes to fulfill their potential and become future leaders in our society. There are a lot of other occupations that one can aspire to but none more fulfilling and satisfying than that of an athletic administrator.
Tennessee Secondary School
The overwhelming reason that I chose interscholastic athletics/activities as a career is because I have a genuine love for young people, and I care about what happens to them. My joy each day comes from being able to make a difference in the lives of our youth. Being involved in interscholastic athletics has given me not only a tremendous responsibility, but also an opportunity to be a positive role model and to help students become successful in life by enhancing their education through participation in extracurricular activities.
Over the years, I have been able to see that some of our youth do not go to school to learn – they learn simply because they are in school. It is a blessing to be able to provide athletics/activities that will get and keep these students in school. My ultimate goal has always been to help our young people grow up and mature into successful contributors and citizens in society.
Dr. Karissa Niehoff
Connecticut Association of Schools
Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference
I learned early in life that athletics and activities not only help build lives, they also can literally save lives, and for that reason I chose a career in athletic leadership.
Studies have shown that youth participating in sports and activities, when compared to peers who do not, exhibit higher grades, expectations and attainment; greater personal confidence and selfesteem;
greater connections with school; stronger peer relationships; greater family attachment; more restraint in avoiding risky behavior; and greater involvement in volunteer work. Athletics and activities can promote development of a strong sense of morality and an appreciation of diversity. They help to grow the five “C’s”— competence, confidence, connections, character and caring.
Apart from the research, I think that athletics, arts and activities are arguably the greatest agents for social change. They can engage an individual who might otherwise slip through the cracks; they can unite a team, school or community; and they can be national and international catalysts for conversation, collaboration and celebration.
To enjoy a career in athletics and activities is truly the greatest privilege!
Susan Robbins, CMAA
Yarmouth High School
Athletics has been an integral part of my life. I was very active as a child and played anything with a stick or a ball. Playing sports was the outlet I needed as I got older as motivation to do well in school, which is why it is so ironic that I work in a school every day. I simply love my job and the impact I have on students every day. I chose a career in athletic administration because I wanted to share my experiences and the lessons I learned through sport with others. All of us are driven for various reasons and I strongly believe that interscholastic athletics is an essential piece to a quality and meaningful education.
Successful athletic directors must be able to build quality relationships with all constituents whether they are student-athletes, teachers, coaches or the community at large. I learned early on that you must work collaboratively with students to gain their trust and respect.
One of my favorite parts of my job at this point in my career is being the advisor to our school spirit club. I meet weekly with students to plan events such as homecoming and student assemblies. We design a spirit item each year; this year the students decided on bucket hats. At our first school assembly this fall, the students led cheers, brandishing the new logoed bucket hats, and we sold out shortly thereafter! Our school spirit is at an all-time high, which only makes our school culture more positive for learning and student engagement each day.
New York State Public High School Athletic Association
Latham, New York
My Reason Why I chose interscholastic athletics as a career is because I want to help young people build the necessary skills to be successful in life. Almost 20 years ago, I entered the education profession with a passion to positively impact kids. Interscholastic athletics has the extraordinary ability to teach students the value of teamwork, the meaning of dedication, the significance of loyalty and the importance of responsibility – not only to a team, but also to a community.
Lessons learned on the field or on a court uniquely demonstrate how to win with dignity but also to handle adversity in defeat. My start as a middle school teacher and coach in Central Texas taught me those same values, and now today I am honored to work on behalf of 600,000 student-athletes in the great state of New York. A career in interscholastic athletics is filled with new and exciting challenges to solve each day; no two days are ever alike. There is no better career than one in which a coach turned administrator has the incredible fortune to help people achieve their dreams and aspire for greatness – greatness not only for state championships, but more importantly their future careers and quite possibly, our next coaches or school administrators!