New Lebanon AD ‘a Breath Of Fresh Air’
Lebanon — Zac Stevenson may not be sitting in his chair in the Lebanon athletic director’s office yet, but he is already at work.
Lebanon’s new AD is getting a jump on the job — and his proposed Jan. 21 start date — by working the phones and talking with administrators from his Michigan home.
That kind of dedication, according to members of the Lebanon School Board, is exactly why they hired him on Wednesday night — and exactly why he was nominated in a 16-0 vote and then accepted by the board in an 8-0 vote.
“Everybody who met him said he stood above all the other candidates hands down,” said board member Bob McCarthy. “I think we’re lucky to get this guy. We hit a grand slam on this one. It’s about time we got our average up.”
Board Chairman Jeff Peavey, who also served on the selection committee and met with Stevenson, also was impressed. “When he starts working here, people will realize what we saw in him,” Peavey said. “His interest in the students really stood out. He is a student-oriented person.
“He was the ideal candidate. Like I said at the (Wednesday board) meeting, he’s a breath of fresh air.”
Committee members were impressed with what they saw in the Woodhaven (Mich.) High School athletic director, who also served as assistant principal, and Stevenson was impressed with what he saw of the community during his interview visit.
“From the lifestyle standpoint and the professional opportunities available for us, this was a good match,” Stevenson, 38, said in a telephone interview. “The positive impressions I had from a distance turned out to be the same up close as we met with the people,” he said. “As I did deeper research — on the success and history of the programs, the commitment of the community — I knew this was what we were looking for.”
And it appears he was the man the board was looking for. And he offers more than sports expertise.
“He has the experience, 10 years as an athletic director,” Peavey said. “He’s also been an assistant for a number of years. But more, he has a strong background in music that makes him such a well-rounded candidate.”
That varied background will help Stevenson in his position dealing with co-curricular activities. “I’ve been involved for years in competitive music programs as well as the arts,” said Stevenson. “I have done this for many years, worn many hats. … I am comfortable in doing what needs to be done.”
Stevenson is preparing to meet with his staff and coaches. As the new guy on the block, he understands how important it is to make the right moves early on, even as he begins to put his personal stamp on the job.
“I am looking forward to meeting folks and find out where we are and where we need to go,” he said. “It’s very important to converse with the folks up there, to find out what’s important to the staff and the community.
“I plan to just sit back and listen. You can learn a lot from just listening. I want to get the staff to share the ideas they may have. I don’t think I’m coming in to reinvent things. I am just bringing a fresh set of eyes.”
In his years as an athletic director and school administrator, Stevenson has worked in schools the size of Lebanon High School, and at schools two and three times bigger. (Woodhaven High has 1,200 students to Lebanon’s 716.) And while he is looking forward to returning to a smaller school and community, he sees little difference in his attitude toward the job.
“Kids are kids, no matter where you are,” he said. “While the names and faces change every year, the basic issues stay the same. It’s our job to help them make good decisions and find positive role models.”
In the next few weeks, Stevenson and his wife, Theresa, will be working on making the 600-mile move east.
“We’re coming from a very urban area — lots of cement and steel,” Stevenson said. “But before this, we lived in a place very similar to Lebanon with the same kind of culture and atmosphere.
“We are hoping to get back to that style of living.”
Don Mahler can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3225.