A day in the life of a high school athletic director | Sports

CITY OF MORE HEAD — The title “high school athletic director” sounds a lot more glamorous than it is.

When West Carteret athletic director Michael Turner showed up for school at 7 a.m. Thursday, he began a long list of chores that fill his weekdays in the building.

In the morning, it’s time for paperwork. This means sorting through a pile of physical data, recording family identification data and entering information into the new DragonFly program, ensuring CPR and concussion course certifications are up to date, and searching, printing or copying any number of forms needed for the 295 athletes registered in the fall. sports.

There’s no way to get through the pile of papers on his desk, but he can at least put a dent in it.

As the morning begins, the paperwork gives way to setting up the gym for that night’s volleyball game against JH Rose. The 44-year-old is also the school’s volleyball head coach as well as the DA. This season will be his 14th as the program’s head coach and his fourth as a DA.

As he sets up chairs and adjusts the height of the volleyball net, his fellow coaches trickle in and check in for the day. After a quick chat with Assistant AD Troy Smith, Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach Cory Noe and Cross Country Coach Shelton Mayo, it’s time to get back to work.

There is going to be a jayvee football game that night, so Turner grabs the athletic department golf cart and heads to the football field. Before they get there, however, he checks in with DB Ballou, who is helping fill a sinkhole in one of the school yards. The projects never stop in and around the school.

As he walks around the sports field, it’s hard for Turner to feel less than completely comfortable in his role. A graduate of West and UNC Chapel Hill, he has returned to his alma mater in Morehead City since 2007 after a seven-year stint in East Carteret. His wife, Jaime, works as a counselor at the school, his son, Brayden, goes to school there and plays for the football and baseball programs, and his daughter, Jayne Bailey, will also be coming to school. .

“This is my home, really,” Turner said. “I consider it a huge privilege to be here. I’m one of those people that even now, decades later, I still think it’s an incredible honor to wear West Carteret on your uniform.

When he arrives on the football field, Turner joins assistant football coach Sammy Teague in removing the vertical pads and distance markers, while football coaches Daniel Barrow, Troy Smith and Buck Evans work to paint the lines and figures of the field.

These are just game day responsibilities. Before the start of the fall season, at the only football facility, Turner must ensure that the bleachers are pressure washed and free of biting insects, the press room is cleaned and the equipment of lawn is functioning properly. Not to mention, the school’s coaches are responsible for keeping the nine acres of sports fields mowed year-round.

The list goes on until 5 p.m., when he can finally devote his full attention to volleyball. His college game starts just after 6:30 a.m. and lasts until nearly 8 a.m. After breaking down the gym and starting laundry, he goes out to catch the end of Jayvee’s football game, eventually arriving home between 9 and 10 a.m.

When classes begin, Turner’s AD clock doesn’t start until 11:30 a.m. after he finishes teaching his two advanced math classes. The 23-year-old educator will juggle three classes and AD responsibilities in the spring. During the school year, he will balance these five classes while managing 27 athletic programs involving approximately 600 athletes.

Despite 12- and 14-hour days and endless bureaucratic headaches, Turner is absolutely thrilled to have gotten the job when 15-year-old Craig McClanahan stepped down in 2019. In 2020, McClanahan died of a cancer on June 27. 2020 at the age of 59.

For Turner, who has benefited greatly from McClanahan’s dedication and mentorship, the best part of the AD position is its proximity to all of the school’s athletic programs.

“The sphere of influence this job allows you is the most rewarding thing in the whole world,” he said. “I used to be just Michael Turner, the volleyball coach and teacher. I had a great relationship with the volleyball players and the baseball players, but that was it. Now I know all these kids , and I can invest myself in the work they do and see the results with my own eyes.

He described being able to walk with the school’s golfing boys as they competed in the state competition this spring. No longer bound by a singular coaching position, he is able to casually handle the sideline at football games or sit in the dugout at baseball and softball games.

“I was able to travel with our swim team to regionals and walk into that locker room after losing to 71st and see the level of pain on their faces,” he said. “You see that, and you remember how invested each of these athletes is, how much that means to them. It’s really powerful.

The job certainly comes with its challenges, however. Coaches are only hired on one-year contracts, and personnel changes are an integral part of running an athletics department. That doesn’t make difficult personnel changes any easier for the lifelong Patriot.

“That’s the absolute worst part of this job,” he said. “There is no way to prepare for it. I grew up in this school and know the people here intimately. It’s hard to separate work from relationships, but it’s work.

Another challenge is seeing the athletic department from the perspective of both a coach and an DA. Imbalances are part of preparation sports, but they are harder to swallow in a leadership position.

Turner, for example, wants to be able to hire more than two coaches for cross country, which often has a roster of more than 50, knowing that the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams are assigned four coaching positions each.

Funding is tough for every sports program, and schools in this county are no exception. West’s annual budget is modest at $6,400, but Turner also acknowledged that the NC High School Athletic Association has handed out so much funding over the past two years.

However, each sports program is still individually funded through ticket sales and fundraising. Capital improvements to sports facilities are often privately funded through donors, but season-to-season costs, such as gasoline for road games and equipment, are provided by the sports themselves.

That said, the reality of low- or no-revenue sports like golf, swimming and tennis requires a more involved community approach. In this regard, Turner says the school is extraordinarily lucky.

“The support we get from our community is crazy,” he said. “Our boosters are doing a ton. We’ve come out of COVID and haven’t had to worry about cutting a sport or delaying ordering anything in the last year other than a wrestling mat. That’s huge.”

Last year, the school saw 17,000 paying customers across the fall, winter and spring sports seasons. This kind of revenue is exactly what the program needed, but the outlook for high school sports is still unsettled. Turner expressed concern over the growing influence of club sports on participation in school sports. The volleyball club, for example, recently changed its registration date to the beginning of August, identical to the start of the school season.

“I’m a big believer in education-based athletics because of what it does for kids in the classroom,” Turner said. “There are a lot of for-profit clubs swinging the brass ring of scholarship and stardom, and we can’t compete with that because that’s not what we do.”

The influence of club sports on public school athletics is strongest in metropolitan markets, but the West DA fears that even a hiatus in other parts of the state could irreparably jeopardize the rural preparation sports infrastructure.

“It’s not that important here where we are, but what happens when Raleigh, Greensboro, Durham, Fayetteville, Greenville and Charlotte stop having high school sports like they do?” He asked. “What fills the gaps? How are we going to maintain the same planning network? »

Challenges can also fluctuate each year. In 2020, the biggest hurdle has been the COVID-19 pandemic and the massive effect it has had on the sporting calendar. Last year the hardest part was getting athletes back as numbers dropped at all levels.

This year, the numbers rebounded, but supply chain issues finally caught up.

“A year ago when you needed uniforms, you had the year’s inventory that you could draw from,” he said. “Now you’re a little stuck. We’re supposed to play with Wilson volleyballs, but we weren’t going to be able to get any until September or October, so we had to adapt.

The only normal year of Turner’s time as an DA was in 2019 before the pandemic hit. Its first spring sports season was canceled outright, and the following fall volleyball and cross-country were the first sports to return, followed by a brutal six-month period in which all other sports had to be crowded.

After a short summer, the Patriots returned and had a banner year athletically, winning a host of conference championships and hosting numerous home playoff games.

“I don’t know what West Carteret’s home playoff record was,” Turner said, “but we had to break it last year.”

As a student and coach, Turner saw the ebb and flow of success in West’s athletic department. A summer redevelopment of the trophy case at the front of the school is proof enough of the record-breaking time of the past five years, but Turner doesn’t want to take credit for it. He saw the school’s last AD stewardship pave the way for the current state of the department.

“Craig (McClanahan) was the head of this sports department when we had unprecedented success in all sports,” Turner said. “He put the right people in the right places. I’m just trying to keep it going as best I can. »

Comments are closed.