When you see athletic directors at sporting events during the year, they are not just being cheerleaders for the program or figureheads roaming the sidelines.
Far from it.
The seven men in Colum-bia County who run their respective schools’ athletic programs come from different backgrounds and have different strengths, but what each brings to the table – and have in common – is a love for their school, students and student-athletes.
And with that devotion comes long hours and hard work, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.
With less than a month on the job, Lakeside High School’s Jarrett Troxler is experiencing being the man in charge of the whole program for the first time.
At 33 years old, Troxler enters his fourth year as the school’s head football coach. He took the reins of athletic director when Donnie Burch stepped down at the end of June.
“I can already see it in stress levels as far as worrying about sports other than football,” said Troxler, whose team has started conditioning for the upcoming season. “Not that I don’t care about the other sports, but I’ve been geared to football. Now I’ve got to worry about everybody. The good thing is we’ve got a good athletic staff here and I’ve e-mailed out the forms. The biggest thing I see – and I’ve got to do a great job – is communicating about what needs to be done and making sure everyone is in the loop.”
Grovetown’s Todd Booker, who teaches five classes, is the football team’s defensive coordinator and the JV baseball coach, knows what Troxler is starting to experience.
“I think the biggest thing when I first became an AD was just making sure as far as compliance goes that you’re compliant with all the GHSA (Georgia High School Association) rules, the eligibility and the transfer kids, doing all the paperwork on them,” said Booker. “Initially, when I first started out, all the paperwork could just be overwhelming. But now over the years, it’s just something you become used to. It’s like second nature now doing it.”
Booker and Augusta Prep’s Tom Holodak were the only ones initially hired to be their school’s athletic director, but with coaching responsibilities attached. For most, teaching plays a large part in their schedule.
Entering his seventh year as AD and 17th at Evans, Kevin Kenny teaches four world history classes, is the Region 2-AAAAA president and is the head basketball coach.
“It gets difficult teaching all day long, and what a lot of people don’t realize is our No. 1 job is teaching,” said Kenny. “So we have morning duty, we have lunch duty and we have afternoon duty also. Just because we’re the athletic director or coach, it doesn’t mean we get out of those duties also. We’re just like any other teacher.”
Another trait the ADs share is doing what they can to help other coaches.
“I want them to coach,” said Holodak, who enters his 12th year as AD, 11th as head track coach and fourth as cross county coach. “If I have to cut that field and mark it for (football coach) Harry Bacheller, I’ll do that on a Sunday, because I want him to coach. I don’t want the basketball coach sweeping the floor every day before practice. I try to make it the best for them to do the best job they can do without having to worry about little things.”
Entering his 11th year at Augusta Christian, fifth as AD, Marty Griffin stepped down as head basketball coach in large part to concentrate on being the athletic director.
“I just really felt the need to be able to do those extra, above and beyond the baseline descriptions of an AD,” Griffin said. “I’ve got some things in the works. I want to mentor some of our younger coaches, to be able to spend some time with our senior athletes in all sports. Really build them towards the future.”
Harlem’s Adam Fulford, who is in his third year as AD at the school, said the students are the most important thing to him.
“I enjoy interacting with the kids and it’s all about the kids,” Fulford. “It really is. That’s why I’m doing this and that’s why I’m in this. Making sure that our kids at Harlem High School have got every opportunity to succeed as a student-athlete. That’s my job.”
Greenbrier’s Garrett Black has been the softball coach since the school opened. He will teach four classes this year and is in his seventh year as athletic director. He thinks highly of his counterparts and the job they do.
“I’m fortunate to work with pretty good ADs in the county,” Black said. “I really depend on Kevin (Kenny) a lot and Todd (Booker) over at Grovetown. I think all of us ADs, if we don’t know something, we pick up the phone and call someone. I think we’ve all dealt with situations at one point or time to where someone hasn’t dealt with, and we share how we handle things.
“To put that kind of time in, you have to be passionate and love what you do. I know I can say that for every one of those guys that are running their schools. They’re in it to make a difference in their athletic program (and) to help make a difference in young people’s lives.”