The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

What Some Students Would Like from a New Athletic Director

What Some Students Would Like from a New Athletic Director

In the wake of Mark Conroy’s upcoming retirement, the search for Williston’s new Athletic Director continues.

The ongoing search for a new AD has been narrowed down to five candidates, some of whom began visiting campus the week of March 18.

Conroy announced his retirement earlier this year, and since then, the administration has been working fervently to hire a new AD to take the spot occupied by the beloved Conroy, who served as AD for the past 25 years. With five potential candidates remaining, the search is ongoing. Head of School Robert Hill said a decision will be made “by the end of the [school] year.”

Hill said the search started out with a large field of candidates nationwide, and has been narrowed down by months of hard work by the Williston administration.

“The hiring committee has done a tremendous job interviewing and narrowing down the pool,” Hill said. “Right now, we are sitting at five candidates and are going to continue to it narrow down.”

The hiring committee, lead by Kathy Ouimette, Williston Human Resource Director, consists of Melissa Brousseau, Chris Dietrich, Robert Hill, David Koritkosky, Blayne Lapan, Christa Talbot Syfu and Tyla Taylor. The initial applications were read by a smaller committee, and that group narrowed it down to 10 for the larger hiring committee to evaluate.

“We had a tremendously deep and diverse field of applicants,” Hill said. “This speaks to the character of the school and especially the student body.”

Conroy hopes that the school’s new AD will continue to align with Williston’s values.

“I think that Williston, like all schools, will need to continue to evolve its program to meet the challenges that face athletics today from specialization pressures to NIL to the pressure that comes from sports academies, etc.,” said Conroy. “I hope we continue to stay true to ourselves and our foundational principles while adapting to the changing landscape of athletics.”

The constantly changing environment in sports is a challenging world that will need to be matched by an AD who is able to easily adapt to different situations case by case. The problems posed by sports academies, for example, directly go against what Williston and other NEPSAC schools are all about. Sports academies are boarding schools that, unlike Williston and its peer schools, allow students to specialize in one sport.

Conroy feels strongly that athletics are one of the first things people see and hear about a school.

“I always believed that athletics play a significant role in terms of representing the school, both in hosting opposing teams and representing our school all over New England and beyond,” he said. “Athletics are the single most public part of any school. Often what folks know about a school is through the lens of athletics.  Besides representing the school with great sportsmanship and integrity, I also feel strongly that athletics should bring out the best in us as coaches and athletes!”

Student-athlete Graham Williams feels strongly about having a new AD he and his fellow students can connect with. In particular, Graham would like the student section to play a bigger role in the athletics environment.

“When our teams go into [other schools] they suffer through tough opposing crowds,” said Graham, a junior. “We should reciprocate that energy and make it hard for teams to play us.”

Graham floated the idea of requiring students to attend games.

“I’ve heard some programs have something called mandatory attendance for some games. I think it’s something that is definitely achievable for things like the football whiteout game and the specialty games for other teams too,” he said. “I really think what would help to build our school spirit. I like the idea that we kind of are together as one as a school and it builds energy for the sport and the players.”

Another event Graham would like to see is the addition of a homecoming type of weekend.

“I think also something that I’ve seen you know across state and across the country is homecoming, and I think that’s something that would for sure increase our sense of school pride,” he said. “I like these types of events because it mixes the sport aspect with the dressing up and the excitement of going to homecoming and bringing someone to homecoming.”

Ryan Elloras, a sophomore wide receiver, likes the idea of coordinating student sections, and wants another AD who will let the student section chant and cheer respectfully, as Conroy does

“I would say someone who just gets a good vibe for the games, like lets us have theme games and cheer and do all that kind of stuff within reason,” he said. “Someone who will allow different game events, maybe do something like ‘Friday Night Lights’ and that kind of stuff that keeps the community involved in sports.”

The term “Friday Night Lights” was popularized by the 2004 movie of the same name, directed by Peter Berg.

Williston running back Nate Ellis hopes that the football team gets a jersey revamp and wants Williston students to travel to away games at nearby schools.

“I think a big change is that our football team really needs white pants; we’ve had the blue on blues, but white pants would look really clean,” he said. “Also, for some away games we want our fans to come with us to schools like Deerfield. We could bring a fan bus that’s pretty good for closer games rather than just the Suffield game.”

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