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What experience teaches the A.D. (A.D.ministration).

ATHLETIC DIRECTING is a demanding job that requires a huge commitment of time and energy. It can be tremendously rewarding, yet thankless and fraught with pitfalls.

1. You can't please all the people all the time.

Many of us learn through experience and time and error, and we can derive much from the following assortment of basic principles and time-tested tenets.

No matter how widely you consult or how well-founded your decision, there are always going to be people who disagree. By the very nature of your job you are never going to gain the universal support of your school community. But if you can justify your decisions, no one can reasonably ask anymore of you.

2. Back your own judgement.

By all means, consult widely and seek advice from those whom you respect, but in the end make sure it is your own judgement. Ultimately, the buck is going to stop with you, not with those who gave you the advice. Since you are the one who will have to live with the decision, you must make sure you are comfortable with it.

3. Interruptions are an important part of your work.

Your day is full of interruptions. In fact it is often one big interruption-the phone always ringing, the endless procession of staff and coaches in and out of your office, and the scores of e-mails. The key to efficiency lies in viewing the interruptions as an important part of your work, not as a hindrance or distraction. If it is important enough for someone to raise the matter with you, it should be important for you to attend to it.

4. Expect the unexpected.

Athletic directing is never dull. Something is always happening, and more often than not it will not be anything you planned. Expect to come to work with your whole day planned and then have it change entirely. You may not even get to the first item on your "to do" list!

5. Planning.

Much of your job is about planning. While you must react to the things that happen in front of you, you must try to be proactive in your approach. The job involves planning on a daily, monthly, semester, and even yearly basis.

The saying, "Failure to plan is planning for failure," is very applicable to your role. If you fail to adequately plan, you will struggle to keep your head above water. Your "to do" list and monthly and yearly planning calendars are vital aspects of your investments in time.

6. Always have a Plan B.

To be effective, you must always have a Plan B up your sleeve. "What do we do if it rains?" "What do we do if the referee doesn't turn up?" Trying to anticipate what can go wrong and having back-up in case it does, will prevent a lot of heartache and stress.

7. You have to be able to do multiple things at once.

You will always have a dozen things to do and they will all have to be done right now. Being able to focus on what is really important is the secret of great athletic directors.

8. Paperwork is inescapable.

Mountains of paperwork come with the job. You might as well get used to it. Devise systems that will help you maximize your time. For example, try to handle a letter or paper just once, or file only what cannot be retrieved from another source.

9. People don't like change.

Ever had what you thought was a brilliant idea or initiative only to have people shoot you down in flames? More than likely it was because the people concerned didn't like change. Change can be threatening as it takes people, especially an older, more entrenched staff out of their comfort zone--doing what they've always done. It is thus important to manage change effectively. Try to engage the key players in the process and give them ownership over it. This will make the process less threatening.

10. Delegate.

This is one of the most important skills you will have to learn. Beginning Athletic Directors often try to do everything by themselves. This is a sure-fire recipe for ineffectiveness and burn-out. Effective delegation is a key to such problems.

11. See a complaint as an opportunity, not a threat.

A significant part of your role as A.D. is listening to a whole range of complaints. It is easy to view them as a personal attack on your work. They are emotionally taxing and one of the least enjoyable aspects of the job. The trick lies in viewing them as an opportunity to examine what you are doing and what you can do better.

12. Learn to say, "No."

Athletic directors are so multi-faceted, complex, and demanding that the job can very easily become all-consuming. ft's easy to wake up one morning and discover that your job has become your life and that your family has become almost total strangers.

No job, no matter how satisfying, is worth such a sacrifice. Learning how to say "no" without feeling guilty about it is something you will have to learn early on.

13. Keep focused on the big picture.

It is really important not to get caught up in the thousands of little things that go with the job--the nuts bolts issues of running a school athletic program. Never lose sight of the big picture.

14. The three R's-relationships, relationships, relationships.

While administration and organization are significant parts of your role, they are not the most important things. Schools and colleges are essentially human organizations, and your relationship with the administration, your colleagues, the students, and the parents are critical. How you interact with them will ultimately determine the quality of your program.

15. You have the best job in the world.

A friend of mine once gave me a pair of socks with the words: "Your job is safe. No one else wants it," written on them. My colleagues used to laugh whenever I wore those socks to work, but there was probably an element of truth in those words.

There are times when we all feel like quitting, yet every time we watch our students come off the playing field or court with a smile on their face we are reminded of how lucky we are.

Just seeing their faces reminds us that despite the stress, pressure, and demands on us, we have the best job in the world. What a wonderful thing it is to see a happy child!
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Title Annotation:athletic directing
Author:Kotzur, Tim
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2003
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