Oxbow AD heading home for Spaulding job

  • Derek Cipriano, seen on the sidelines of an Oxbow High football game in 2019, is heading to Barre’s Spaulding High as its next athletic director. Valley News file — Tris Wykes

  • Derek Cipriano, Oxbow High athletic director on the football sidelines on Sept. 21, 2019, in Bradford, Vt.  (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.  Valley News — Tris Wykes—

  • Injured Oxbow High football player Cooper Smith and athletic director Derek Cipriano on the sidelines on Sept. 21, 2019. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Tris Wykes—

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/10/2022 10:08:09 PM
Modified: 6/10/2022 10:06:02 PM

Oxbow High athletic director Derek Cipriano will leave his position to take the same job at Spaulding High School in Barre, Vt., he confirmed to the Valley News on Thursday.

Cipriano, who has led the Olympians’ athletic department for the last four years, is a Barre resident and said he wanted to move closer to home. While Oxbow competes in VPA Division III, Spaulding is a Division II school for most sports and is in Division I for ice hockey, which Oxbow does not sponsor. The Crimson Tide also field teams in several other sports that Oxbow does not have enough students for, including field hockey, volleyball, golf, swimming, wrestling, skiing, lacrosse and tennis.

“It was just a career opportunity to be able to move to a school that is closer to home and take that next step in my career,” Cipriano said.

While working in Bradford, Cipriano oversaw the girls basketball team being named co-state champions in 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the semifinals and finals. The softball team, a perennial power, won a state title in 2021 and will play for another on Saturday.

Outgoing Oxbow principal Jean Wheeler, who helped hire Cipriano, said the two had a strong working relationship, but she was not surprised to see Cipriano depart for a larger school closer to his home.

“He’s done a wonderful job leading the athletic department through the whole pandemic, and prior to that, he had worked really hard to create a leadership council with students and was able to meet with students on a regular basis,” Wheeler said. “He’s done a consistent job recruiting and evaluating coaches and looking out for what’s best for Oxbow and the students.”

Cipriano had to replace the head coaches for every fall sport during the summer of 2019, hiring new bosses for football, cross country, and boys and girls soccer. Chad Wescott (football), Andrew Fisher (boys soccer) and Cassie Saikin (cross country) are all still in their respective positions, but girls soccer coach Dan Thomas was relieved of his duties following the 2021 season. Stephen McManus, previously an assistant at Stevens and the head coach at the now-shuttered Black River High School, has been named to take over the girls soccer program.

Girls basketball head coach Barry Emerson stepped down in March after nine seasons, and Cipriano said the search for his replacement is nearing completion.

In his letter of resignation addressed to Wheeler and superintendent Emilie Knisley, among others, Cipriano said he will do all he can to prepare for the next academic year and “will be happy to help whoever comes into the position in their transition to the role.” Cipriano said he does not expect to be involved in the search process for his successor.

“Obviously, it’s easy to (remember) the championships. Those will always be great highlights,” Cipriano said. “But it’s always the little things that will really stick with you, when you think back on those connections with the kids. Even in the low points, even in losses, to be able to see those kids who work hard and put in effort to get those little rewards, those are always going to be things that I’ll remember as well.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.

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