With schools closing across the country due to COVID-19, we’ve been checking in with athletic directors to see how they’ve been handling the time away from the office.
Kevin Bryant, Athletic Director at West Bend East High School, took some time to talk to us about how he’s dealing with these unique times, what he does to stay busy both from a work standpoint as well as a personal standpoint, and how technology helps him work from home.
Tell us about yourself
I am currently Athletic Director at West Bend East High School in West Bend, WI. I have two kids, ages 6 and 8. In my spare time, we all know how much of that exists as an athletic director, I enjoy golfing, working out, and going to games with my kids.
Why’d you get into athletic directing? What gets you up in the morning?
I originally went to college for public relations and marketing. After graduating with a degree in those areas I started working in public relations and marketing for a company that represented NASCAR teams. After a few years in private industry I realized my heart was really in working with high school students and coaching. After getting into education and coaching, I followed a principal I had worked with and became her Athletic Director. Since that time I have worked as an athletic director in North Carolina, a principal in Wisconsin, and now currently as an athletic director in Wisconsin.
What do you find special about West Bend?
West Bend has a lot of unique characteristics about it. We actually share a building and facilities with another high school. It is a model that was developed by many districts across the country in the late 60’s and early 70’s. To my knowledge it is the only school that still exists with this model. It provides some interesting and at times challenging problems that force me to be solution-based in how I run my department.
Another factor that is unique is the amount of athletic sports and clubs we offer. In addition to the sports everyone thinks of we also have mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, and even synchronized swimming.
We’re obviously in a very unique time given everything that’s going on, how are you preparing for the remainder of the school year?
I think the most important thing we can do as athletic administrators is continue to brainstorm outside the box solutions for what we are currently going through. The reality is that there is no playbook for dealing with COVID-19 and the effects it is having on our athletes and their families. I don’t think anyone of us could have expected to be in the current state that we are in but we must remain calm as our coaches, parents, and most importantly student-athletes are looking for direction. In Wisconsin the governor has currently suspended schools indefinitely. We continue to meet as a district administrative team and as athletic directors in our conference to work on solutions.
The most important thing that I would encourage all athletic directors to do is keep communicating! Let your coaches know what the plans and expectations are. Make sure that they know the current rules and that they adhere to them. Also, help them understand that your athletic department is preparing for whatever the future holds. This is where your website and social media platforms can be extremely helpful.
As you work from home, what’s one thing work related that you hope to accomplish?
I have been continuing to focus on this year but I have spent a lot of the last couple of days working on scheduling for next year and even for the 2021-2022 school year. Normally time like this would be perfect to visit and call local businesses and discuss advertising and sponsorship options. With the current economic state, uncertainty, and so many others working from home I have chosen to focus on logistics.
As you work from home, what’s one thing non-work related that you hope to accomplish?
The most important part of working from home in my opinion is to keep your normal routine. Everyday I get up early and work out before I go into the office. I have kept that same routine. Sure, I am now working out 15 feet from my desk I have set up to work from but at least I am able to keep some normalcy to my routine. I think the other thing you have to remember is to shut your computer down at night. Just because you are now working from home doesn’t mean it is something you should do until late each night.
Are you preparing for fall sports more than usual at this time? If so, what are you doing specifically to get ready?
Not really. Fall schedules are already done for me so I am spending more time focusing on Spring 2021 and the 2021-2022 school year. I also have school administrative duties as I do teacher observations, professional development, and oversee the physical education department. Those school administrative responsibilities are still an important part of my day right now.
How will technology help you during this time?
Technology is extremely important during times like this. We are doing daily administrator meetings both on the district and school levels. All of them are being done via technology.
Please share anything else about you, your school, or this unique situation that you feel is worthwhile/other ADs can use in their lives.
It is important during times like this that we are transparent. We shouldn’t speculate but we should be honest about the effects on our athletic departments.
Pay attention to the details that you might not think of. This will affect your budget and could allow you to allocate resources to other areas.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to grow during this time. Below are some items I would encourage you to do as you work from home:
- Read books that will help you develop professionally
- Take online NIAAA courses and work towards certifications
- Set aside time to brainstorm with other athletic directors
- Reach out to athletic directors in other areas of the country and talk about how they are dealing with the crisis but also have them share recommendations to grow as a professional
Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my cell phone at 704-239-6492.
Special thanks to Kevin Bryant for sharing some insight on how he’s handling work and COVID-19. If you’re interested in being featured on our series, please contact email@example.com.