by Nathan Vlcek
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Starting the year out on the right foot is something everyone strives to do. As a new administrator/athletic director, I had envisioned where I wanted my middle school athletics to go and thought things were already set up for me to take them in that direction. I was unfortunately about to discover some horrible truths.
One of those truths was that when things look like they are going great, they probably are about to crumble. I was hired fairly late in the summer and was shown some of the documents left for me by my predecessor. Most of the documents showed me who my coaches were and what games we were scheduled for and such. I thought the start of the sports seasons would be off without a hitch since things were already established for me. After a week on the job, I decided I better confirm with my coaches. Through that process I discovered that one of my head coaches was indeed not planning on returning. The first monkey-wrench! Soon I discovered that there is more red tape in administration than I had first thought. What could have been sorted out in a day, turned into a month long search that led me to the day before the first practice started before I had my coaches sorted out. That’s not a good way to start the season. Because of the late hiring process, I was unable to have an official meeting with parents and coaches to go over expectations for the season which has now led to further frustrations – stay tuned on that!
Shortly after I discovered the coaching debacle, I discovered that the sports schedule I was handed was also incorrect and that the away and home dates were mostly backwards. The second monkey-wrench! So now I had to re-organize the busses, inform my coaches and referees that the information they had been given was all wrong. Not to mention that some of our games were scheduled during our parent teacher conferences and forensics meets which involved our coaches. Since school had not started, making contact with other athletic directors was next to impossible. I’m a person who likes to lay out a plan well in advance and then follow that plan. The next couple weeks were filled with anxiety as I waited to hear from other schools for confirmation of the schedule and start times for games. I also had to wait on officials to respond on their availability to work our games.
While this school year did not start the way I had intended, as far as the athletics are concerned, I am confident that I will have a system in place to make next year better. I have taken a few things away from all the issues that I have had to deal with. Over-communicating is certainly not something that is possible. I have sent several e-mails and even had conversations with other AD’s about our start time for games, yet we still have schools show up late, not realizing our start time was earlier than they thought. If I had over-communicated by contacting them early in the week to re-confirm the start time, I believe we would have had teams start on time for each event. Even though I didn’t have all my coaches hired until the start of season, I should have moved forward with a parent meeting the first week of school. Even though things have crumbled, being flexible and creative with problems as they arise has helped me in fixing things on the fly. Instead of getting bent out of shape when things didn’t go as planned, we just adjusted the start times of games and the amount of warm-up time. We’ve adjusted schedules so that everyone can make it to games, parent/teacher conferences and band concerts. I’ve learned that more communication is needed and that it opens up the avenue for everyone to have input on how to solve problems that arise.
Nathan Vlcek worked as a music educator in Rice Lake, Wisconsin for twelve years. He became an assistant principal/athletic director in the same school that he worked in during the summer of 2013.