Ever Wonder What an AD Does? Just Ask His Wife
What does an Athletic Director do, anyway?
They are the ones who set the tone in all the athletic endeavors in a school — teaching sportsmanship, hard work as its own reward, being gracious in victory and polite in defeat.
But what it really means is that they line fields, take calls from irate parents yelling about their kids’ lack of playing time, go to scheduling meetings, count uniforms, talk frustrated coaches off ledges, investigate cell phone pictures of drunken kids who signed contracts promising not to drink, chase missing uniforms down, try to talk unsuspecting teachers into coaching next season, listen to irate parents on their voicemail yelling about their kids’ cell phone rights being violated, order supplies for med kits and set up for the games on that day.
I have met ADs from all over the country, so these issues are universal.
The person they spend the most time with is not their secretary — if they are lucky enough to have one — or their students if they also teach. No, the person they associate the most with is the bus manager.
This is because in rural areas like the Upper Valley, schools play other schools of comparable size, a task that can entail driving great distances and, therefore, the buses need to be deployed. The bus driver gets free coffee in lots of places, which seems small consolation for riding in a contained space with 30 pairs of teenage feet.
ADs go to scores of meetings since there are many sports and many levels from 7-12; soccer, football, golf, lacrosse, track, field hockey, basketball, skiing (nordic and cross country), baseball, softball, hockey, swimming, tennis and cheerleading, no, that is not a typo, it is a sport, sorry Gloria Steinem.
The meetings are to establish opponents and dates. ADs also have to get coaches, assistants, referees, uniforms, buses, equipment, EMTs and police sometimes, depending upon the sport and the deportment of the fans.
Problems can present themselves off the field, as well.
Once my husband was driving back to school from, you guessed it, lining a field, when he happened to see a student athlete A.W.O.L. from school, smoking.
The kid looked up, their eyes met, and they both knew the
game was up. It just so happened that a scout from a college was coming to see that kid play in the next week or so, but rules are rules and the kid was off the team.
Man, talk about intercessions. Our phone rang like the ’08 primary season. Before dinner, after dinner, then during dinner as the important date loomed closer. My husband was always polite, “Yes, I understand, but the school rules state that…”
Finally, one night, my husband expressed frustration in front of the kids, who were little at the time, and they said something like:
”Mommy, why is daddy saying bad words?”
And I said, “Well, daddy is having a hard time at work these days.”
“Why?” they asked.
I said “Daddy is the athletic director, remember?”
“What does that mean?” they asked.
“Well,” I said, “that means daddy’s job is to ruin kids’ lives.”
Athletic directors are the folks standing way off to the side of any school sporting event, not saying much, scanning the horizon. They are trying to assess where the ball will go up, excuse the pun. Are the fans rowdy or disrespectful? Is the official going to be safe getting to his car after this game? Was that a casual bump or will the player need to be assessed for a concussion?
It never ends.
There are a few perks: free stuff. It used to be just T-shirts, but they’ve upgraded to golf shirts with logos for each team, then bags and sometimes even lightweight jackets — all in school colors.
This is a good thing and a bad thing. When two or more AD’s are gathered together they stand out because they look like walking U.N. flags. I have to specifically request a non-logo outfit when we go places so we can dine in peace.
To sum up: to be an AD, one must love all aspects of athletic contests, be a world class planner, be able to commit to a long-term relationship with bus drivers, endure hostility and still deliver bad news to people, know the exact measurements of a football field because one can’t unpaint grass, have the willingness to wear anything with the school colors on it no matter how tacky, and be hated by gaggles of teenagers and their parents at least until the next season or progress reports come out.
Deb Beaupre, wife of Newport High School athletic director Doug Beaupre and mother of three athletes, has been dodging sporting events for 23 years. Her column will appear once a month.