CNAA Best Practices – September 27
Prepping for a successful season doesn’t start on the first day of school. Successful athletic directors start preparing over summer; the earlier, the better.
Every athletic director has his or her own approach to getting organized. Regardless of what the process is, however, there’s always something to learn from fellow athletic directors, from picking up a new tip to a complete overhaul of the start-of-season process.
School is almost underway and it’s time to put those best practices in place.
Start Preparations Early
For Adam Callan, athletic director at Marin Catholic, he starts work on the next season before leaving for summer break. Callan tackles schedules first. That includes inputting game schedules into MaxPreps or another system and double-checking all of the inputs to make sure they are correct. Then, he schedules transportation and early dismissals for each.
It’s the same first step Leo Lopolz, Athletic Director for De La Salle and Founder of CNAA, takes. “I want to make sure all schedules are done and confirmed,” he shares.
Callan likes to leave his desk clean before taking off for the summer. That includes getting the website up and running for parents who will be perusing over break, adding and updating coach contact information online so families can contact them about summer practices and touching up any handbooks or website info that needs it. After that, he clears out his inbox and sets an away message so he can catch a break before the new year—a semi-break anyway.
Lopoz uses the time at the end of the school year to turn in all necessary paperwork for the coming season’s games, including ticket taking and selling needs. He also uses June to do all of his facility checks, making sure any necessary repairs are made before the school year starts and to address staffing needs. Taking these projects on early helps him feel at ease that teams will be ready to rock and roll when the school year starts.
For Joe Romano, keeping in touch with his coaches over summer is key, especially coaches who will be jumping into fall sports as soon as the school year starts up again. He checks in by phone, email and in-person sporadically throughout the summer to ensure things are going well. During these check-ins, Romano talks budget (both at the program level and the department level) and other pressing matters.
Balance rest with work
“I try to use the off-season to make sure I had some personal time. You don’t get a lot of chances during the school year to step back,” Callan says.
Callan doesn’t, however, take the entire summer off—and that’s his personal key to success—managing his workload so it never becomes overwhelming is important.
“Before I go on vacation, I might have to grind out some things so they don’t linger all summer,” he said. “Also, I set aside specific time to look at and address work items when on vacation so things don’t pile up too much.”
Romano doesn’t like to leave work for the last minute either. Knowing sports are going to jumpstart the second school gets back in session, he uses the summer to talk about schedules with the coaches. Managing the schedules of every team on campus is difficult work, but a little preparation goes a long way, and the less-busy summer months are a good time to tackle that beast.
Romano doesn’t forget that he, too, needs a break. Sometimes the best way to prepare for the busy school year ahead is to take advantage of the time for a little R&R.
“It is important for me to get away with family and spend some time off-campus,” he said. “It is a creative time-period and one very much removed from the day to day of the school year.”
“Reality is that there is no summer break for anyone,” Lopoz says. “Athletics go all year round.”
His mindset for the kids, however, is different. At De La Salle, summer break is different dates for different sports and only runs 21 days. “I make sure our coaches allow kids to rest and go on vacation.”
Be a Team:
When it comes to athletics, teamwork is key.
Over summer, Callan leans on his coaches to run a successful athletics department. A well-communicating group of coaches creates a well-oiled machine, and Callan knows his coaches will be putting in effort over summer, too. When they all work together, more gets done. He develops those relationships with coaches pre- and post-season.
“Communication and trust are big pieces of delegating responsibility to coaches during the summer,” Callan says. “If you have a new coach or someone that you don’t have full confidence in yet, it’s good to check in via the phone or stop by on occasion to check in with them to see how things are going.”
Romano echoes Callan’s sentiments: “consistent communication,” is how he ensures coaches are doing their part over summer break.