New Albany High School Athletic Director, Richie Wildenhaus, was kind of enough to take some time and talk about his high school, how he works, and how he uses technology to run an extremely successful Athletic Department.
Tell us about yourself.
I am from Ohio (born and raised). This is my 11th year as an Athletic Director (7 years served in Colorado) and I am in my 4th year at New Albany. My wife, Colleen, and I have two children (Julia-14 and Ryan-12). Huge Ohio State fan, avid golfer, and we love to spend our time on the beach in Hilton Head Island, SC.
Why’d you get into athletic directing? What gets you up in the morning about the work?
I got into this career as a way to make a difference in the lives of others. I enjoy the relationships I am able to build with so many different people (students, coaches, parents, community, officials, other administrators, etc). Getting up everyday and coming to the office to work alongside an incredible staff and admin team is extremely rewarding. The culture we have here is incredible and I am fortunate to be part of that.
How do you plan for the future of your department?
We evaluate all of our programs within our department looking at a variety of data points. Working with our head coaches, we put together action plans to address areas of need. Additionally, being a community school, we are able to vertically align with our middle school and youth programs to create relationships and seamless transitions between levels.
Is there something you like the most about VNN? What’s the one thing you wish we could improve on?
The thing I love most about VNN is the customer service. Whether it is on the phone or through the online chat (which is what I utilize the most), the staff is always very helpful and timely with their assistance.
What do you find special about New Albany High?
Without questions, the most special thing about New Albany as a school and community is the people. We have an incredible culture here. Everyone is supportive of each other, there is great pride and expectation for everything we do, and the community support is tremendous. People make organizations great, and in New Albany, we have some of the best around.
If you had one piece of advice about your job for all the other athletic directors out there, what would it be?
My biggest piece of advice is to “embrace the grind.” The hours are long. You make sacrifices to do the job and do it well. The reward is knowing that you are part of creating something bigger than yourself. The programs you oversee are providing skills beyond the sport, and your student-athletes are developing character traits that will carry them through their lives. When your student-athletes walk across the stage and receive their diplomas, please know that your programs have helped get them there, and the grind you embraced is worth it in the end.
You guys have done a great job aligning with VNN’s mission, connecting communities through sport. Why do you think that is?
We look at our VNN website as an extension of our office. We strive to fill it with content that allows it to be a “one-stop shop” of information about our department. If someone has a question about anything related to New Albany Athletics, they know they can head to the website and their questions will be answered. Additionally, the opportunity to share our message and to market our “brand” is invaluable. We celebrate our student-athletes’ successes and provide those messages to our community through the vehicle of our VNN website.
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