Less change is good for local athletic departments

Jim Novar.

Larry Jose.

John Thompson.

Bill Chilman.

Jose, again.

Chris White.

That is just a sample list of the athletic directors Chippewa Hills has gone through in the past 16 years.

That list doesn’t include the latest member of the group, Chi Ethridge, who has taken over the duties after White took a position in the Perry school district to be closer to family in the beginning of June.

Every school wants to be the best, be it academics or athletics.

The way this happens is with stability at the top — and in this case the athletic director.

An athletic director has many duties such as facilitator between the school and coaches as well as parents, athletes and coaches. The athletic director also has the duties most of us are accustom to, scheduling opponents and getting officials.

Some athletic directors are in charge of fundraising and making sure the school keeps up with the latest changes from the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

They often are the most visible person of the athletic program.

But when that person changes from year to year, it is hard for anyone to know who is running the show.

This is when breakdowns in communication occur. This is when you hear ‘oh that isn’t how so and so did it’ or ‘so and so said I could.’

Chippewa Hills is not the only school that has experienced an overhaul at the top of the athletic department. Big Rapids’ Nick Scheible, Reed City’s Monty Price and Morley Stanwood’s Clark Huntey have been on the job for less than five years.

The overwhelming theme for the turnover of athletic directors is money. School districts are trying to cut budgets while trying to keep academic programs.

School boards are asking personnel to do a full time job on top of the full job they currently have. That leads to long days and nights which leads to burnout.

That Chippewa Hills has been able to enjoy the success it has the past few years is amazing considering the turnover at the top and is a tribute to the coaching staff and athletes who have been able to keep their eyes on the overall goal.

Just in the past year, the Warriors baseball team reached the quarterfinal round for the first time in 27 years. The girls track and field team has won more than 70 straight duals. The wrestling team reached Battle Creek for the team tournament and has produced individual champions.

The football team reached the playoffs and the cross country program continues to be one of the top teams in the state.

There are many more accomplishments, this being just a small sample of the success Chippewa Hills has enjoyed.

The question is, could the athletic programs have enjoyed more success with an athletic director who was on the job longer than a couple of years? There is no true way to answer that other than it couldn’t hurt.

But it has to start at the top with an athletic director who is going to stay, put things in place and keep the athletic programs focused on the big prize.

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