Although there may not be games to play, athletic directors remain busy. It’s a position that varies in its day-to-day operations in any year, but even more so with a pandemic happening.
Just ask Burr and Burton athletic director Dave Miceli.
“As an athletic director, it’s one of the things that just fascinates me,” Miceli said. “It’s what I love about the job, some days it’s what I dread about the job (laughing). But really, there are so many facets to what we do.”
Scheduling games and making adjustments to those schedules may be one of the first things one thinks of when they think of an AD. Especially in New England where the weather plays a big part in all three sports seasons. Miceli refers to these weather-related schedule changes as “urgent rescheduling’s.”
Miceli said that the time away from focusing on the day-to-day game management has allowed him to focus on the “important but not necessarily urgent” tasks that he describes as “the really cool part of the job.” Miceli explained that these tasks often get pushed aside during a normal athletic season due to those urgent rescheduling’s.
Without having to focus on any pressing issues, Miceli had the time he normally wouldn’t to focus on more of the behind the scenes stuff.
“I was able to grab some more concentrated blocks of time to get into some of the deep work that is vital to the direction of the athletic program, but might not be evident for months,” Miceli said.
That deep work includes creating and overseeing a number of athlete-leadership programs at BBA like the student-athlete leadership team. That group at BBA is working to try and figure out how to make matches this winter — if/when they begin — more enjoyable for both the athletes and the viewer with no fans allowed. One idea that the group has proposed is to create “big heads” of BBA athletes and fill the facility with them, making the venue appear less empty.
It also includes a professional development coaches corner the AD holds with BBA’s coaches. These monthly meetings include shared conversations led both by Miceli and various members of the BBA coaching staff,
With things seemingly changing daily in regards to high school athletics throughout the state, communication is important as ever. Mount Anthony athletic director Ashley Hoyt credits the strong relationships Southern Vermont athletic directors share with one another in helping the process keep moving forward.
“We’re friends, everyone’s friends with each other, so we don’t have a problem picking up the phone or shooting someone a text,” Hoyt said.
Miceli called the athletic directors in Vermont “one of the best groups I’ve ever been associated with.”
Especially during the pandemic,” Miceli added. “People’s generosity and willingness to sacrifice, willingness to find common ground, to negotiate. It’s kind of people being at their best in finding a way that makes this work for the kids.”
Hoyt said this time away from game management has allowed for a more thorough review of the fall sports season. During a conversation on Dec. 11, Hoyt said MAU had recently closed up the fall evaluations.
Hoyt joked that “the office work is still there” for AD’s during this time.
“It hasn’t been too much of a change in terms of day-to-day operations, the days just aren’t as long because we don’t have games,” she said. ““It’s just a lack of game management right now, but everything else kind of stays the same.”
Miceli isn’t just taking this time to teach athletes and the members of the athletic department, he’s taking it to learn how he can become better at his job, too. Miceli recently participated in the National Athletic Directors Conference where he enrolled in two four-hour courses. The first course went over inclusion in athletics, while the second gave tips on how AD’s can oversee a successful sports medicine program at their school.
With high school sports now allowed to begin individual workouts, games could be back as soon as this month. Athletic directors are ready to see action on the courts, rinks and mountains once again.
“It’s been challenging, but we’re just trying to do the best we can,” Hoyt said.