This year, we welcomed our first school in Vermont to the VNN network: Hartford High School. Located in central Vermont, the rural town of Hartford has about 8,000 residents and 500 high school students. We sat down with Hartford’s Athletic Director Jeff Moreno to talk about his school, his role as AD and how he’s taking advantage of VNN software to connect his community.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m in my 5th year as the athletic director at Hartford. I grew up and attended school here, and I always wanted to get back here if I could. After college, I taught and coached in Alaska for a year, which was an incredible experience. When I came to Hartford, I was the middle school science teacher, then the elementary principal, and then Hartford created the new position of assistant principal and athletic director. I’ve been in this role ever since.
What made you want to be an athletic director?
I love athletics and I love competition. I love the growth that young people can experience through being part of a team and through challenging themselves. I believe that was a large part of what helped shape me – determination, perseverance and grit. I want to help provide those opportunities.
What is your day-to-day like?
My typical work day is 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and longer if there’s a game. I start off everyday with Box Out Sports and VNN. I schedule posts for that day’s games and anything I want to promote or celebrate. It’s so much fun and has elevated our platform significantly – the kids and the parents love it. Then I get out front and greet the kids, see what we have for games that day, check in with the grounds folks, check emails and weather updates, and prepare for next season.
What are some of the unique challenges your school faces?
Face coverings are mandatory in our state. The kids have to compete in them and spectators have to always wear them. This is especially tricky because we play New Hampshire schools that don’t have the same requirements, so we had to make an agreement that their fans and officials would wear them or we couldn’t play. They were great about it. Weather is also a wicked challenge for us. We couldn’t dream of playing football on Thanksgiving because it’s so wet. It’s mid-April before we can even get on our fields so it’s a six-week condensed season every spring.
What do you love most about being an AD?
My favorite part is reflecting on the year and realizing how far the teams and coaches have come. Sitting back, exhaling and seeing how much was accomplished is very rewarding. I got lucky in terms of starting this job at an exciting time. There’s been a lot of construction and infrastructure improvements. We have a new press box and scoreboard on our football field, our hockey rink has been almost completely renovated and they’re finishing up the bleachers right now. There’s a lot of exciting improvements.
How has VNN improved your athletics and community?
VNN gives your programs higher visibility and a higher level of professionalism. It really helps us get our information out into the community. Box Out Sports has helped me create gorgeous slides and posts. This is my first cellphone so I’m really not tech savvy, so for someone like me, it’s so easy to use. Another goal was to single stream our registration and website so we got that down. We’re using Register My Athlete. And right now there’s restrictions on spectators, so we will launch digital ticketing for winter sports.
Do you have any great stories from this year so far?
Cross country is a program we’ve been really working on. When I first got here, there was one boy and two girls on the team. We worked hard to get them back on the map and there are several dozen runners now. Early word with COVID was that cross country was one of few sports that would go ahead. So we built a really gorgeous course and hosted six home races this year – and usually we only host one. We also hosted the league championship in late October and the girls won. That hasn’t happened since 1982. Both of our middle school teams won the league championships, too. It’s definitely a success story.
Big thanks to Jeff Moreno for taking the time to answer our questions. Look for more of these How I Work features each month.