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Facilitating smooth transitions.


After nine years as the director of athletics at Eastern Tech High School, I accepted a similar position at nearby Loch Raven HS and, much to my delight, the transition couldn't have been handled any better.

The retiring AD met with me several times for discussions on school policies and procedures, checks of all the storage areas, and a typed report on everything that could be of value to me.

It was all extremely thorough and professional. It was the way things should be done, but seldom are. A lot of incoming AD's are just handed a set of keys, given a brief handshake, and offered not much more than a "Good luck."

Athletic directors are not the only officers who face transitions at schools. Most schools have head coaches leaving and new coaches coming in all of the time. All of these coaches need guidance on how to get started with things such as:

* Completing and submitting eligibility forms.

* Understanding and complying with state, league and school policies.

* Compiling a list of the returning players.

* Getting a copy of the schedule for the upcoming season.

Anytime time you have a new principal moving into your school, he will bring different approaches and agendas that will necessitate change and adjustments.

Superintendents also change positions every few years. This can mean new system-wide procedures, new goals and the possible reorganization of departments. Your new administrators will be grateful for:

* A list of the entire coaching staff.

* A summary of important upcoming events and meetings.

* A briefing of pending local and state issues that may affect the school.

* A copy of your Coaches' Handbook, departmental policies and league rules.

Constant changes are occurring within most athletic departments, and the wise AD will look for the dynamics involved in facilitating smooth, professional transitions.

Not everyone leaving a position is going to do so amicably or by choice, and are not likely to join in any transitional effort with his or her replacement. As the AD, you will be expected to step into the breach and facilitate this transition.

The following ideas will be of help in handling your transition problems:

1. Put yourself in the new person's shoes. What would he or she need to know in order to succeed in the position? This should include absolutely everything that is needed to get started immediately and to feel comfortable in the first day on the job.

2. Provide guidelines and any written material that can aid the new person entering your program or school. These written documents can be retained for reference and will be extremely valuable when questions arise in the future.

3. Recognize that there will be many things to assimilate and that the new person will definitely have a learning curve. This will apply to even the most competent individuals. You may have to repeat some things and provide support until the rookie has mastered many of the details involved.

4. Ask the newcomer for any questions he might have and then go about answering them as best as possible. Once these concerns are addressed, the newcomer will begin to feel much more comfortable.

5. Conduct a tour of your facilities and storage areas in addition to providing written guidelines. If possible, label the keys in order to make this adjustment less daunting.

6. Introduce this new person to the coaches and other staff members, including secretaries, grounds crew and custodians. It will also be advisable to give them a list of names and their positions, as it is unrealistic to expect someone new to master a lengthy list immediately.

In my case, I was given the opportunity to say a few words at a meeting of the coaching staff. This gave the coaches a chance to get to know me a little before the start of the school year. It proved invaluable for all of us. It broke the ice and enabled us to get started with the tasks at hand.

7. Arrange for a meeting with the president of the booster club or other support groups. Getting acquainted as early as possible is a good way to keep things rolling in a positive direction.

8. Offer to serve as a reference when future questions arise. This can be accomplished by providing your phone number and E-mail address.

Hundreds of details have to be mastered when undertaking any new position. Anything that you can do to help make this transition a little less difficult and with much less angst, will ultimately help propel your program forward without missing a beat.

BY DAVID HOCH, Director of Athletics, Loch Raven High School, Baltimore County, MD
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:A.D.Ministration; helping new athletic directors settle in
Author:Hoch, David
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2003
Previous Article:Coaches' corner.
Next Article:Q & A strength/conditioning: part I.

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